When trying to determine how much cabin you can afford, do not forget to factor in the cost of the rest of your trip. If you have to spend a lot on airfare, pre-cruise hotels and activities in port, you might not be able to afford the fanciest suite; if you are using frequent-flyer miles or do not need to book a hotel, you will have more money for cruise fare; the money you save on airfare can be used to spring for a nice stateroom. Or, look for value-added perks from cruise-line and travel-agent promotions. Offers for complimentary onboard cash, prepaid tips or included airfare can free up some money to pay for other vacation expenses.
In this age of mega-ships, cabins now come in all shapes and sizes. In addition to the typical boxy inside and outside cabins, you can find expansive suites, duplexes and lofts. Balconies also range in size from small affairs barely able to squeeze in two chairs and a drinks table to huge wraparound decks with outdoor dining tables and hot tubs.
For some reason, most cruise lines assign their nicest and most expensive cabins to the highest decks, usually just below the pool deck (most likely because if you have a window or balcony, you have a more sweeping vista). Still, it is the pool deck that often causes the most noise problems, so if you do not want to hear scraping chairs at the crack of dawn or yee-hawing pool parties until the wee hours, go down a level. In fact, when it comes to noise, the best bet is to select a cabin that is both above and below other cabins.
Balcony cabins: These cabins are better, and more expensive, than oceanview cabins because they typically have full glass sliding doors that lead to a balcony. The balcony allows fresh air and light into the cabin and also may have additional chairs or loungers. Balconies tend to be separated by dividers which give some sense of privacy, but be aware that most balconies are not fully private and can be viewed from above or by the cabin next to you. Balconies on new Norwegian Cruise Line ships and Princess Cruise Line ships tend to be smaller and more narrow than balconies on other ships. We will list balcony size in the cabin description. Carnival offers what is called a "Cove Balcony" on some of their ships. These balconies are very popular because they sit lower on the ship (closer to the water line). Expect to pay $200 to $400 a night for an balcony cabin.
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