Perfect cruise about more than destination

Published 10:31 pm Saturday, September 18, 2010

October is “wave month” so let’s start talking about cruise vacations.

Cruise companies will have specials offers and promotions during the month and I’ll share these on my Facebook page

One of the essential decisions that you will have to make when planning your cruise vacation is selecting the proper cabin.

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What kind of cabin you are bunked in and where it is located can play a big factor in how much you will enjoy your journey. Selecting your stateroom depends on a couple factors such as how much you can afford (or want) to spend on it, what kind of lifestyle you lead, how long your vacation is going to be and where you will be sailing.

Unlike hotel rooms where your room is assigned upon check-in, your specific cruise cabin can be assigned well in advance of your departure. By looking at a deck plan you can pinpoint your ideal location.

Choosing a cabin is a very personal decision and should be made based on what is important to you. An experienced travel agent or cruise counselor can also be very helpful in this process. Listen carefully to their advice, but in the end it is still your decision to make.

I think that one of the best ways to select your cruise cabin is to study the deck plans.

These are the colorful printed cruise line brochures that you can pick up at your travel agency or download them from the cruise line’s website.

As you scan the color-coded deck plans you’ll quickly discover a somewhat confusing maze of cabins and prices.

A general rule is that the windowless (often called inside) cabins on the lowest passenger decks are the least expensive and prices increase as you move up to higher decks and outside cabins.

If your room is located way up front or in the back this may also impact your fare.

To me, there are four basic types of staterooms: windowless inside, outside window view, outside balcony and then the suite category. We’ll talk more about these categories later.

First of all, cruise cabins are small. You need to think about what you are really using the space for. A place to sleep, shower and stash your gear. If you’re hung up on cabin size then please look for a land-based vacation and book into a Sandals Resort suite.

Although smaller than most hotel rooms, modern cabins are quite comfortable and well appointed. Besides the reasons you are cruising, there are activities going on outside your stateroom.

Standard inside cabins have amenities that are to that of a standard room of a hotel: a queen-sized bed or twin beds, a satellite TV, air conditioning, a closet and some storage space for your clothes and personal items, a telephone, a hair dryer, and other items.

Inside cabins do not have windows or portholes and the bathroom is small usually having only a shower stall rather than a tub.

A standard outside cabin with an ocean view is generally the same size and offers identical amenities as the inside cabin.

The only difference between the two of them is that the standard outside cabin has a porthole or a window.

However the window/porthole is locked and cannot be opened. But you can watch the world sail by your stateroom’s window.

Modern cruise ships now offer cabins with their own balconies. This cabin type is slightly larger than a standard cabin and usually has a small balcony sitting area. Sliding glass doors open to the balcony.

Some cabins of this type have balconies that only have space for a small table and a couple of chairs. One balcony drawback is that on some cruise ships, some balconies offer no privacy from the neighboring cabins or people strolling outside on deck.

Suites are the largest cabins on a cruise ships. Suite cabins have separate and distinct areas for sleeping and for sitting around. The bathrooms found in suite cabins are also bigger and have bathtubs.

Cruise liners often have special amenities for passengers staying in suites, including butler service.

Cruise ship cabins are also grouped according to their location on the ship. Every location has its own advantages and disadvantages. I like to break these into three categories of forward, midship and aft.

Cabins located at the lower decks are generally the least expensive and normally offers a smoother ride as you feel less motion. However, lower deck cabins are often the farthest ones from the public areas of the ship and occasionally you’ll hear engine and anchor noise.

I feel that they’re a great value especially if you don’t object to taking the stairs or riding the many onboard elevators.

The cabins located at higher decks are the ones closest to the pool, casinos, restaurants and other public areas of the ship.

They do cost more than lower deck cabins and passengers staying in higher deck cabins are apt to experience more rocking motion there.

If you are concerned about motion discomfort I do not recommended these cabins. Middle of the boat on the lowest passenger deck is what you want to look for.

Passengers staying near the bow (front of the ship) and aft (back of the boat) tend to experience more of the ship’s rocking motion too.

My favorite cruise cabin is the least expensive inside on the lowest passenger deck possible. I also look for a room that is located a couple of cabins away from the stairwells/elevators.

The only traffic you’ll experience is fellow guests staying near you. These cabins offer the best value and once I leave my cabin no one knows where I’m staying. For me the cruise experience is outside of my cabin.

Cabin selection is an important yet personal decision. I strongly believe that you will get the most out of your vacation if you choose the perfect cabin to stay in during your cruise.

Talk with your travel agent and they’ll help your chart your course! Bon voyage and hopefully I’ll see you aboard my next cruise!