First Time Cruiser Questions: Should I Upgrade My Cabin?

Grandeur of the Seas

If you’ve come to my blog, then it’s safe to say you know that I love to travel and that extends also to cruising.  I am painfully aware that not everyone has been on a cruise.  In fact, it still surprises me that there are people who are adamant about never going on a cruise.  With over 11 million people worldwide choosing to cruise this year, there must be something appealing that draws these people not only to cruise once, but to then become repeat cruisers.  Getting past the misconceptions of what novice cruisers think a cruise is all about is what the cruise lines work hard at daily to entice those new cruisers into cruising.  Once they try that first cruise, they are more likely to cruise again and again and again.

Oceanview cabin on the Disney Magic

What I hear frequently from first-time cruisers is that they aren’t concerned about their cabin as they don’t feel they are ever going to be in it based on what others have told them.  Picking a cruise cabin is a personal choice and is something like picking a car.  Diehard cruisers have their favorite cruise lines, cruise ships, and cruise cabins.  Some cruisers prefer to be mid-ship on a cabin while others will only choose an aft-balcony cabin.  “Aft” on a ship means the back of a ship and quite often those balconies are larger than regular balcony cabins.  Although I am all for saving a few dollars when you can, the one thing you shouldn’t skimp on is your sanity and here’s why.  Let’s say an inside cabin on an upcoming 7-night Caribbean cruise is $549 per person whereas an obstructed oceanview cabin is $599 per person.  However, a standard oceanview cabin is $649 per person. I know many cruisers who prefer and truly enjoy sailing in an inside cabin because they are absolutely never going to spend one minute in their cabin except to sleep.  The first time cruiser might think that by bumping up to the obstructed oceanview cabin they are treating themselves while saving money.  However, this is where things start to get tricky.

Inside cabin on the Norwegian Dawn

If you book your cruise yourself online and you’ve never cruised, you won’t have any idea about the location of your cabin other than what you see on the deck plan of that ship.  There are great resources online such as the boards on Cruise Critic or Cruise Advice, which can offer you information pertaining to your specific ship.  Check out YouTube as well for video tours that might exist of your cabin.  Why?  Not all obstructed view cabins are the same.  Some might actually have a small obstruction such as a beam to the right of the window of your cabin, but the majority are fully obstructed with some offering little to no light entering the window into your cabin.

Inside cabin on the Carnival Glory

I’m not going to say that this will cause arguments, but it could and when you consider that for about $7 per day per person you could upgrade to a regular oceanview cabin, why wouldn’t you?  If this is your first cruise, don’t you want to have great memories from this trip?  Most people get maybe one great vacation a year or every other year.  If this vacation is wrought with memories of how you couldn’t stand staring at an orange lifeboat perched right outside your window, then only you have the ability to change that.  If money is an issue and you feel as if deserve something better, you should consider your options and see if you can swing the higher level oceanview or maybe stick with an inside cabin and treat yourself to a specialty restaurant onboard instead.

Balcony cabin on the Norwegian Epic

Cruise cabins are small on cruise ships with the exception of suites so don’t go in expecting a cabin the size of a hotel room because you might be disappointed.  On average, they are smaller than 200 square feet and even smaller on older ships.  Some people choose balcony cabins because they get extra square footage with the balcony.  But the truth is that with a view like this, the balcony cabin sells itself.  Many cruisers who have finally splurged with a balcony say that they won’t go back to an inside or oceanview cabin ever again.  In addition to the great view, you can place your room service order the night before and enjoy breakfast or even coffee out on your balcony and watch the sunrise.  Before dinner imagine sharing a glass or two of wine as you watch the sunset. If you want to sit and read a book or just sit and relax, your cabin’s balcony will be your safe haven on the ship.

My overall advice is to always book early to get the best price and best choice of cabins.  If the price drops, contact your travel professional to make sure your rate is adjusted to match the lower rate.  Maybe skip your daily Starbuck’s once a week for a few months in order to save up for that special cabin.  Watch out for cruise sales with free upgrades, reduced deposits, or extra amenities like onboard credit, which is money that you can use while onboard your ship.  Whatever you do, plan ahead and do your research ahead of time to allow you to relax and finally enjoy your cruise once you are onboard your cruise.


One thought on “First Time Cruiser Questions: Should I Upgrade My Cabin?

  1. Marian, I agree with you! Get the best cabin you can afford. I have been in inside cabins with no windows, regular cabins with a balcony and suites. While they all suited our needs, it sure was nice to come back to a bigger room with ample space to hang out.

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