We are definitely a cruising family, we’ve been cruising with our kids since they were teens; it’s only natural when grandkids came along they cruised with us too.
I remember our very first cruise was a 7 day Alaska Cruise on the Star Princess. At the time I had no clue how cruise fares worked and deciphering stateroom categories was confusing. Choosing the right stateroom was nearly impossible. How can the same type of stateroom have so many different prices?
At the time I told my travel agent that my only requirement was a stateroom with a balcony otherwise my husband would refuse to go. Not knowing any better I happily agreed with all her suggestions. I was told a mid-ship stateroom under passenger cabins is the best most comfortable one; they’re quieter and better for people who get seasick. They are also the most expensive ones. My travel agent got me great a stateroom in the highest category available. I paid top dollar!
Over the years we’ve stayed in balcony staterooms and suites in different categories. We’ve since learned that none of us get sea sick, don’t mind hearing deck chairs being moved above us, don’t mind the long walk to an elevator, and we aren’t in the room enough to enjoy the added luxuries suites have to offer. I’ve learned to decipher stateroom categories, I now tell my travel agent which stateroom and category I want. In short we’ve become savvy cruisers.
Here are my tips for newbie cruisers to help choose the stateroom to fit your needs and budget. I hope it takes away some of the mystery of stateroom types and categories.
Different cruise lines have different names for stateroom categories and different class labels. Some use numbers, others letters, and still others a combination of both. The larger ships have added different stateroom categories such as inside view, concierge class, aqua class, and more.
The reality is there are only 4 stateroom catergories, everything else are sub-categories, meaning they are usually the same size as others in their category but have different views or include extra luxuries.
Every stateroom has a private bath with a shower. Beds can be configured as one queen or two twins. Amenities include bath soap or wash, shampoo/conditioner, blow dryer, TV, limited room service menu (some lines charge a nominal fee for delivery), mini-bar (items consumed will be charged to your shipboard account).
There are many classes of suites ranging from mini-suites to penthouse suites that have 2 bedrooms, sitting and dining rooms. Added luxuries can include butlers, whirlpool tubs, balcony hot tubs, upgraded toiletries, in room meals, and more.
Maximum room capacity on all staterooms and suites is 4. Some staterooms can only accommodate 2 guests.
Having said that here are the 4 stateroom CATEGORIES.
- Inside Stateroom – Four walls and a door.
- Ocean View Stateroom – Same as inside stateroom but one wall has a large porthole (window
- Verandah/Balcony Staterooms
- Suite on Celebrity Ship
Cruise lines have recently added stateroom sub-categories. Royal Caribbean has balcony staterooms that overlook interior public areas, Celebrity has Concierge, Aqua, and Family veranda staterooms just to name a few.
Once you’ve decided on a category you must decide on a class. Staterooms in the same category are generally the same size, the class refers to its location on the ship. Generally, the lower the number, letter, or combination of both, the better the location meaning higher prices. As class numbers/letters ascend the price descends.
Stateroom Classes (example is for Veranda/Balcony Cabin on Celebrity)
Veranda Stateroom Class 1A
Staterooms in the highest classes are located mid-ship beneath non-service areas. These staterooms are closer to the main elevators and stairs and have passenger cabins above them. You may choose a stateroom at time of booking. If you’re prone to motion sickness, need to be close to elevators, and don’t want to hear deck chairs being moved around above you, or want a specific stateroom consider a stateroom in this class.
Veranda Stateroom Stateroom Class 2D
Staterooms in the lower classes can be located forward or aft and beneath service areas. Some staterooms have obstructed views, meaning they are located behind life boats or posts. You may choose a stateroom at time of booking. If you aren’t prone to motion sickness, don’t mind walking farther to the elevator, don’t mind an obstructed view, and don’t mind hearing deck chairs being moved around above you, consider this less expensive option.
Guarantee Stateroom – Most cabin categories have a guarantee stateroom class. It is the least expensive stateroom in its category. You may not choose a specific stateroom at time of booking, a cabin will be assigned to you sometime before the sail date. Guarantee staterooms may be eligible for a class upgrade, stateroom assignments are based on availability. If all you really care about is getting a stateroom on a specific sailing, but don’t care where it’s located this is the class for you.
Staterooms and Upgrades
When booking a guarantee stateroom you may be told that you are eligible for an upgrade. If you’re counting on that inside guarantee cabin getting upgraded to a suite or even an ocean view stateroom you may be disappointed. Upgrades generally refer to a class upgrade, meaning you will be upgraded to a higher class stateroom in the category that you booked.
Any stateroom can be eligible for a class upgrade. You may be notified of an upgrade any time before sailing, they will inform you which staterooms are available. If you don’t like the options they offer you can decline an upgrade and stay in your original stateroom.
One thing to remember when choosing a stateroom, no matter which one you book you will have in most cases access to the same facilities and enjoy the same food, events, and activities all the other guest do. On some ships, such as Celebrity’s Solstice class ships, guests staying in an Aqua class stateroom have access to their own special dining room called Blue, guests staying in other stateroom classes do not have such access.