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.
Do you have to have a whirlpool bathtub or a walk-in closet? Will you be entertaining and thus in need of a dining table that can seat six or eight? Do you want benefits like priority dinner reservations and being first in line to get on or off the ship? Do you want to be pampered with extra-plush linens and bathrobes, fancy bath products and in-suite coffee and booze? You can find those amenities and more in most of the upper-level suites.
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.
All cabins come with basic amenities, such as the services of a cabin steward to clean your room and turn down the beds, soap and shampoo in the bathroom, individual climate control, etc. But certain categories of stateroom come with added perks. Suites come with a variety of extras and privileges, everything from priority boarding to in-cabin bar setups. Spa cabins will offer spa-related perks, such as yoga mats in the cabin or a fancy showerhead; concierge-level cabins will give you access to a concierge and niceties like afternoon canapes; and even solo cabins might offer extras, such as the use of an exclusive lounge. How do you want to be pampered on your vacation?
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