Weekly Wednesday – More Room

When booking a cruise, the most important factors that people consider are the departure date and location, how many nights they will be sailing for, and the destination(s) of the sailing. Once you have found the perfect cruise – for the current moment – it’s time to identify which class of a cabin you’re going to spend your sleeping hours in. Some people book cruise cabins that are plush with furnishings and spacious, while others plan to merely sleep in their cabin, and go for the most basic interior space available.

In this Weekly Wednesday, I am going to uncover the different classes of cabins that are available on the major cruise lines and help you understand what your options are. The most radical part about cruises is that when you foot the bill for your journey, it’s more about the cost of the room, than it is for the ship and all of its amenities. Some cruise lines are more economic to sail on, while others collect top dollar per square foot in the cabin. I’ve included a comparison of the big four cruise lines (Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, MSC Cruises) and the size of their cabins in the referenced stateroom-type.

Interior Cabin

Carnival Freedom Interior Cabin

These cabins are best for the money-conscious cruiser (or those that prefer to nap during the day in complete darkness!). They will typically be the cheapest option a cruise has to offer for 2 to 4 people to sail. They are small in size and will typically include 2 twin beds, which can be combined to form one king bed, and for the rooms that can accommodate 4 passengers, they will most likely include either a sofa that converts into a bed, a Murphy bed, or a bed that can drop down from the ceiling (commonly referred to an upper). Other common furniture items include a desk with chair and a wardrobe along the sidewall. The stateroom will come with the basic amenities including a hair dryer, television, small refrigerator and a safe to store valuable items.

Many of the cruise lines have grown their interior cabins and now offer more stateroom choices such as Spa and Virtual Balconies. The size of the room will remain consistent with other interior staterooms on the ship but will come with a slightly elevated room rate due to the extra amenities they include. Spa rooms will generally include a pair of robes, slippers and upgraded soaps, shampoos and lotions. As a bonus, the Spa stateroom will also get you into the spa areas for free.

Norwegian Studio Cabin – Graphic: ncl.com

Interior Studio Cabin
Not many cruise lines offer this class of stateroom. Until recently, as a single traveler you would be responsible for 200% of the cruise fare, as all rooms were based on double-occupancy. Norwegian introduced Studio Cabins on their Breakaway Plus class ships and Royal Caribbean introduced a similar cabin type on their Oasis class ships. The cabins are among the smallest on the ship (except for crew cabins) and are able to accommodate only one person. The ships that have this class of stateroom typically group the studio cabins near each other.

Porthole Cabin
Very similar to interior cabins, the porthole cabin is small in size and can accommodate 2 to 4 passengers. They have a very similar layout and are typically found in the forward part of the ship, or among the lower decks on some of the older vessels on the water. The cabin will feature one or two porthole windows that have limited visibility when looking out from the room.

Mark sitting in the window space in a Carnival Freedom Oceanview Cabin

Oceanview Cabin
These cabins could also be qualified as an interior cabin and are usually among the cheapest options for 2 to 4 passengers. They offer a similar size to the interior and porthole cabins, though the layout may be different due to the large window the looks out onto the water. Though the window itself doesn’t open, the view is still an improvement over the porthole window. In some cases, there may be a window seat available to perch on so you can see the dolphins swimming alongside the ship or check out the land in your port-of-call before disembarking.

Balcony Cabin

Balcony views aboard Carnival Splendor

While this class of cabin is still young, it has taken the cruise industry by storm. Balcony cabins were very difficult to come by on large cruise ships in 2000. Once the lines started adding balconies to their ships, the interest and demand for an attached open-air, private outdoor space became known. In some cases, a balcony stateroom can have the same square feet as an interior room on that same ship. More commonly, though, the balcony cabin has grown to be a more spacious offering with some of the cruise lines offering multiple balcony classes: junior balcony (with a smaller room footprint), spa balcony (with upgraded amenities offered with the booking), and even extended balcony (with a standard-sized balcony room, plus an extra-large balcony space).

Obstructed view cabin aboard Carnival Miracle

Most commonly, the balcony is the same width as your room (unless extended) and will include a minimum of 2 chairs and a side table. Some of the cruise lines offer an obstructed-view balcony where there may be a lifeboat or support column blocking your view and many of the lines include glass windows on the lower part of the balcony to allow for maximum viewing. It has been often shared that when sailing in Alaska, a balcony cabin is a must!

Cove Balcony Cabin
When Carnival Cruise Lines introduced the world to the Dream class in 2009, it featured the lowest balconies available on any large cruise ship at the time. Located on the second passenger deck, these staterooms are similar in size to an interior room, however they have a balcony attached. The balcony is slightly different than other balcony rooms in that there isn’t a way to connect adjoining balconies and it’s a little more private with how it is closed in.


If you’re looking to treat yourself to a more spacious experience, a suite might be a good option for you. Most of the cruise lines offer suites as a way to pamper their guests. Suites come in a variety of sizes and the amenities will vary between each line. In most cases, the linens and décor will be upgraded to be plusher and more soothing. These staterooms can be just a single room or have several attached rooms with a central living space. Some suites are interior while many have a balcony. The cruise lines are known for taking care of their suite guests by offering priority embarkation and debarkation, priority dining time options, first choice to reservations at specialty dining and shows, etc.

Junior Suite
This category of suite falls between a balcony room and a full suite. The size of these rooms are generally smaller with upgrades to the design and style within.

Ultimate Family Suite on Symphony of the Seas, by Royal Caribbean – Photo: thepointsguy.com

Captain’s/Presidential Suite
Newer and larger ships now offer a plethora of plus-sized suites more commonly referred to as the Captain’s Suite or Presidential Suite. These suites are very large with some occupying multiple floors and even including a private butler to serve you. In the instance of Royal Caribbean, some of the exclusive suites on their Oasis class ships have a slide inside the room that takes you from the second level down to the first. Norwegian offers their larger suites in an exclusive location on the highest floors, forward on the ship. MSC Cruises has taken it a step further with their ship within a ship option through the Yacht Club. There are exclusive lounges, dining options and room features found within this service that cannot be found anywhere else on the ship.


So, when you book your next sailing, where do you think you’ll book your stateroom? Do you think the ship builders should consider creating more room within these staterooms so they’re not as cramped? If I’m looking to get the most bang for my buck, it’s an inside stateroom for me, though I do occasionally splurge and go for the interior spa or balcony room.

Cruise Line Stateroom Comparisons

(range measured in square feet)
CarnivalRoyal CaribbeanNorwegianMSC Cruises
Interior Cabin160-200110-260135-200140-300
Porthole/Oceanview Cabin185-245110-270160-290140-235
Balcony Cabin185-210110-290170-175140-450
Captain’s/Presidential Suite300-475545-1520330-530180-670

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