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.
A concierge can take care of all those annoying practical matters you need to tend to on a cruise: making dinner and spa reservations, booking shore excursions, making requests of the front desk. Their services are included in the price of many suites, and on some ships the concierge has a desk in an exclusive concierge lounge where suite guests and high-level past passengers can snack, drink and relax in private. Concierge-level cabins may also come with in-cabins amenities including welcome drinks, fruit baskets or afternoon canapes.
If you tend to get seasick, cabin location is really important. It is a question of engineering, really. The lower and more central you are in a ship, the less roll and sway you will feel. Even if you choose a balconied stateroom, choose the lowest level and the most midship one you can find. The higher decks and cabins at the very front (forward) or back (aft) of the ship will rock and roll the most.
Pay attention to the unique cabin setups on your ship, as they are not all created equal. Disneys four cruise ships, for example, have large standard staterooms designed to accommodate families. Even inside cabins may have a sleeping section that can be curtained off from the living area along with a split bath system. (One bathroom has the shower/tub and sink, another a toilet and sink.) Carnival is also known for having larger-than-average standard cabins, while Silversea, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Seabourn ships feature all-suite accommodations. Norwegian Epic cabins sport the "new wave" design, with curvy walls and separate rooms for showers and toilets; sinks are located in the main cabins. As mentioned earlier, cabins at the very front and back of a ship often have different layouts than the cookie-cutter cabins that run the length of the ship.
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