8 Mistakes to Avoid When Booking a Cruise Ship Cabin
1. Booking a Category 1A Interior Stateroom. As you are researching a Carnival cruise, you might see that the least expensive option on Carnival cruise ships is a Category 1A Inside Stateroom. Although this stateroom category provides an excellent value, guests are many times unaware of the differences between this type of interior stateroom and standard inside staterooms.
On most Carnival ships, category 1A inside cabins feature one lower and one upper berth - essentially bunk beds versus two lower beds that are convertible to a queen. The overall square footage of the cabin is smaller, as well.
It is not recommended that you book a category 1A stateroom if you are hoping for an upgrade to a larger interior stateroom. On some Carnival ships, there are a rare and limited number of smaller, category 1A interior staterooms with two lower beds rather than bunk beds; always confirm your stateroom's configuration with your cruise specialist.
2. Booking a Guaranteed Stateroom. These guaranteed stateroom categories simply mean you are guaranteed the cabin type you have chosen, with no chance of being placed in a lower category. For example, if you book an oceanview guarantee, you are guaranteed an oceanview or higher cabin. This "higher" references a higher category, not necessarily higher stateroom type - meaning, you may receive an upgrade to an ocean view stateroom in a better location but very rarely are passengers upgraded from an oceanview to balcony, or balcony to suite. Final cabin category and location are at the total discretion of the cruise line.
It is not recommended that you book a stateroom guarantee if you are traveling with others and prefer to sail in cabins near one another. There is no way to guarantee that you will be assigned cabins that are side-by-side, or even confirm they will be on the same deck. Also, if you are concerned about being in a particular part of the ship (e.g. mid-ship, or aft) it is not recommended you book a guarantee stateroom. Again, there is no way to put in any type of request if you book a Guarantee Stateroom.
Guarantee Cabins can be a really great deal, if you can accept that you have no control. If you just can't stand the thought of being on the first passenger deck, or at the front of the ship, you will be happier if you choose your stateroom upfront.
3. Choosing the Wrong Location to Avoid Motion Sickness. Modern cruise ships are equipped with state-of-the-art stabilizers, greatly reducing the pitch and roll of the vessel. In most cases, passengers do not feel any movement; however, there are areas of the ship in which motion is more pronounced, especially during inclement weather. The lower and more centrally located your stateroom is on a cruise ship means the lower the possible threat of seasickness.
If you suffer from motion sickness - or are a first-time cruiser and want to play it safe - it is not recommended you sail in a stateroom in the forward section of the ship. The most desirable location is a mid-ship stateroom, or if not available, a stateroom towards the back (aft) of the ship.
4. Choosing the Wrong Location to Avoid Noise. If you are sensitive to noise there are a few cabin locations you can choose from to help minimize the chances of any irritation. It is a common misconception that the higher the category, the better the stateroom. Now, the views are breathtaking, hence the abundance of suites right around the Lido or pool deck, but this is also a high traffic area with late night deck parties and early morning chair hogs scraping loungers across the pool deck.
If avoiding noise is a priority, it is not recommended to select a stateroom underneath the pool deck or dining rooms, near busy areas such as elevators and the ship's atrium, service areas (self-service launderettes, staff storage), nearby show lounges, and staterooms that are very low and at the front or back of the ship (because of their proximity to engine noise and bow thrusters).
So, where does that leave you? The best choice to limit as much sound as possible is to choose a cabin that is between passenger decks. There will be a passenger deck, which is just passenger staterooms, both above and below to buffer noise from public spaces onboard.
5. Choosing the Wrong Location for Limited Mobility. Cruise ships are large, and if you are unable to walk long distances choosing the right cabin location is very important. Be sure to research what public spaces you would like to have the most convenient access to - the pool and spa on the upper decks, or the dining rooms and casinos located more mid-ship. Also, finding a cabin that is near an elevator is a good idea in order to limit the amount of walking down long corridors.
It is not recommended to select a stateroom that is in the very front or aft of the ship if you tire easily or require assistance with walking. Also, please speak with a cruise specialist if you require a handicap accessible stateroom. Standard stateroom door frames cannot accommodate wheelchairs, and there is a step into the bathrooms. There are a limited number of modified staterooms that can accommodate special needs and offer extra turnaround space.
6. Overestimating the Size of Cruise Ship Cabins. While the economical advantage of booking 4 adults into one interior stateroom seems like a good idea on land, when actually out to sea that decision may be regretted. Standard stateroom sizes are comfortable, but not plentiful. Cabin sizes can range anywhere from 120-220 square feet for inside, ocean views and balconies. This is usually more than enough for two passengers, or parents with young children, but with more than two adults it can get a little tight. Especially considering the arrangement is typically two lower beds convertible to a queen with a pullout sofa bed or upper berths for the third/fourth passengers.
It is not recommended to book just one stateroom for multiple adults if on a cruise of 5 nights or longer, or you have not adequately researched cabin size and bed layout to ensure it is acceptable for your party. If a passenger is unable to climb a ladder to reach the upper berth, you may want to reconsider as well.
7. Booking Last Minute for Family Staterooms. Most cruise ship cabins are fit for double occupancy so the number of cabins that will hold three or more guests is limited. However, with the number of family cruisers on the rise, cruise lines are focused on creating more family-friendly staterooms for their new ships. These family style staterooms offer much more space and convenience for families of four or five, such as more square footage, separate bedrooms, privacy curtains or even two bathrooms in many cases. We suggest booking a family stateroom as early as possible; due to limited quantity, these cabins are in high demand.
Another option for families is to book connecting cabins - cabins that are adjacent to one another and feature an inside door providing access to both staterooms. Not only does this provide twice the space, but also twice as many bathrooms and showers! Again, connecting cabins are in high demand and limited quantity, so book as early as possible to increase your chances of the best stateroom setup for your family.
8. Expecting a Free Cabin Upgrade. The best rule of thumb is to book the cabin category you want, the one you're going to be comfortable in. Complimentary upgrades are very rare. Its important to remember that there's no secret formula or witches brew you can drink to get an upgraded cabin. It is usually just plain luck, or being in the right place at the right time.
If a certain category of cabin is sold out, or is oversold (more cabins have been sold than are actually in inventory), the cruise line cannot downgrade passengers who have paid for their cruise. So at random (it really is random), they choose certain passengers and upgrade them to a category with a bit more availability. So luck does play in here.
You usually get what you pay for - if you have chosen a stateroom, or have been assigned a specific stateroom by the cruise line, that will be your cabin for the cruise. But, we can all dream of that Penthouse Suite upgrade!