Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. You need to discover the cruise deck plan first. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it is helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel.
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.
Exception: Carnival has several cabins which are classified as inside cabins but actually have a french glass door which allows light into the room (no balcony, but the door can be opened). Carnival also has some cabins that have a window, but because the window has an obstructed view (that means there is a railing or object in the way) it is listed as an inside cabin. Royal Caribbean has some cabins that have a window but look out over an inside promenade area. These are called "promenade staterooms".
Cabins are priced based on location on the ship. Typically cabins on lower decks are less expensive. Typically cabins midship (in the middle part of a deck) cost higher. Balcony and Suite cabins on the very aft of the ship can also be more expensive than other cabins.