Since cruising has become a popular family vacation, more new ships have built "family accommodations" into the actual design. These are often suites, each with a separate room for the kids -- sometimes a small alcove with bunk beds, sometimes an entire adjoining cabin. Families and groups can also take advantage of regular staterooms with third or fourth berths found in pullout sofas or pull-down bunk beds (called Pullmans). If you are going to squeeze your whole troupe into one cabin, make sure the space is big enough to accommodate the lot of you ... and all your belongings.
Inside cabins with no views at all are typically the smallest, cheapest cabins onboard. They are great options for budget-minded travelers who do not intend to spend a lot of time in their stateroom, or who want to sleep all day in absolute pitch dark. They are less ideal for cruisers prone to seasickness, those who need natural light and groups who require a lot of in-cabin space. Not everyone will be happy in an inside cabin; it is worth upgrading if the lack of light will put a damper on your vacation.
Oceanview cabins: These cabins are like inside cabins but usually have a port hole or window. A window is much more desirable than a porthole because the porthole can be difficult to look through. Windows will vary in size and some cabins will even have full floor to ceiling windows. Most window sizes for oceanview cabins are about 4 feet by 3 feet. Be sure to read the cabin description carefully to determine if there is a different type of window. Windows can not be opened. Expect to pay $150 to $250 a night for an oceanview.
Do you need a balcony? Cruise travelers who spend all their time in the public areas -- sun decks, lounges, restaurants -- or on shore may be perfectly happy with standard-size cabins and no private outdoor space. Those who love to avoid the crowds and lounge quietly on their own verandahs or have private room-service meals outdoors will surely want balconies. Do not forget to take your itinerary into account; on a chilly-weather cruise, you might not be spending too much time outside, so depending on how much space and light you need, a balcony might not be worth the splurge.