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Video: How to Choose a Cabin for Your Next Cruise

Summary: Learn the differences between types of cruise cabins and staterooms, and get some advice about how to choose the right cabin for your particular cruise.

Video Run Time: 3:39

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Video Transcript:

Cruise ships offer many different categories of cabins or staterooms--but which one is right for you? Here are some basic tips to help you make the best cabin choice.

First of all, understand that on almost all cruise lines, the days of different passenger classes are a thing of the past. The activities, dining halls and amenities you have access to don't vary based on the type of cabin you book (Cunard Cruise Line is an exception to this). So your cabin choice is really just about how you plan to spend your time in your room-and how much money you want to invest in your vacation.

Cabins vary by ship, but there are a few basic types that you should be familiar with:

Inside cabins are the least expensive option, and are exactly what they sound like: windowless rooms in the interior of the ship. If you don't plan to spend much time in your cabin and like the idea of daytime naps in total darkness, an inside cabin is for you.

Outside cabins are rooms with a window or sometimes a porthole (though these generally don't open). Usually only slightly more expensive than inside cabins, outside cabins are a good choice on three-to-five-night cruises. The reason for this is supply and demand: shorter cruises tend to be on older ships that were built with fewer balconies, so you generally have to pay a lot more for a balcony on a short cruise.

Balcony cabins have a door that opens to the outside, and a balcony that usually accommodates a couple of chairs and a small table. They're a great place to enjoy your room service coffee and breakfast, read a book, or just relax and watch the waves. On newer ships with lots of balconies, these cabins don't cost a lot more than outside rooms, so I would highly recommend booking a balcony cabin on seven-night or longer cruises. You'll really appreciate having a private outdoor refuge where you can relax and watch the waves.

At the high end-especially on the newest ships-there are a number of other cabin options. Extended balconies (often at the back of the ship), junior suites, and suites that vary quite a bit by ship and line. Note that some lines do offer a few extra amenities for suite passengers including butlers and preferred boarding. Cruise line web sites generally provide maps, photos and even virtual tours so you can get a very good idea of the accommodations before you book. As these higher-end cabins tend to be limited in number, make sure you book early to get exactly what you want.

Triples and quad cabins are available on most ships for families traveling together-especially those with younger children. This is a good way to both save money, though note that you will be in very close quarters. You might also consider adjoining cabins or even a balcony for the parents with an inside across the hall for the kids. As triples and quads are also limited in quantity, make sure you book these early as well.

Guarantee cabins aren't a cabin type, but a way of purchasing. You pick the kind of cabin you want-e.g., inside, outside, balcony-and the cruise line decides which cabin in that category they want to put you in. In exchange for this flexibility, you get a lower price-and the chance of getting an upgrade to a higher deck. But if you're concerned about your location-for example, if you're worried about the noise of being near an elevator or below a disco, or if you want multiple rooms close together-then this isn't the choice for you.

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