Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel:
- Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside
- Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview
- Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck
- Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks
All cabins come with basic amenities, such as the services of a cabin steward to clean your room and turn down the beds, soap and shampoo in the bathroom, individual climate control, etc. But certain categories of cabins come with added perks. Suites come with a variety of extras and privileges, everything from priority boarding to in-cabin bar setups. Spa cabins will offer spa-related perks, such as yoga mats in the cabin or a fancy showerhead; concierge-level cabins will give you access to a concierge and niceties like afternoon canapes; and even solo cabins might offer extras, such as the use of an exclusive lounge. How do you want to be pampered on your holiday? Here are some extras you may want to sign up (and pay a premium) for.
Having a personal butler can be a wonderfully pampering experience, and some cruise lines include the butler service as part of your fare when you select a suite or "concierge level" cabin. Look carefully at the difference in the cruise fare, and decide if it's really worth it. Beyond that, look at the services that are offered; some cruise line butlers really do provide extra value. For instance, some can bring you room service from hard-to-get-into alternative restaurants, refill your mini-bar to personal specifications, and serve in-cabin meals course-by-course. Butlers can also unpack and repack your bags, draw rose-petal baths and assist you in preparing in-suite cocktail parties.
Some lines offer gated-access suite complexes where some of the most expensive accommodations are arranged around exclusive deck areas, including private pools, whirlpools, fitness centres, sun decks, restaurants and lounges; MSC Cruises' Yacht Club and Norwegian's Haven are two examples. Norwegian's studio cabins - although tiny inside affairs -- also gain you access to a special lounge reserved just for solo travellers.