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The 10 Worst Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid

The 10 Worst Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid

Lots of us choose a cruise vacation to get away from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy some much-needed relaxation. Many also love the excitement of new ports, fine dining, and the variety of entertainment choices on board. But no matter your reason for cruising, we all want the same thing from our stateroom—a quiet, comfortable space to relax in and recharge for the next day. These are the ten worst cruise ship cabins you’ll want to avoid.

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1. Obstructed view cabins

For me, there’s nothing more relaxing than gazing out at the sea. Although I don’t mind an interior cabin without a window, if I’m spending the extra money for an oceanview or balcony stateroom, I’d like my ocean view, please!

(image courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

If you feel the same, don’t book an obstructed view or partially-obstructed view cabin. Your sea vista will be blocked by equipment (usually a lifeboat) or even a portion of another deck. Some obstructed views will be completely blocked, while others might just have a small portion of the potential view obstructed.

While it’s true that you can save money by booking one of these cabins, make sure you’re certain you don’t mind giving up some or all of your beautiful ocean view for that discount.

Tip: Google the name of your ship and your potential cabin number to find reviews of that exact stateroom. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to find a YouTube stateroom walkthrough!

2. Cabins near the elevators

It might sound convenient to book a stateroom right near the elevator—those hallways can be long, especially on the mega-ships. But think twice before picking a room right near an elevator bank.

(image courtesy of Holland America Line)

Not only do people tend to congregate and chat by the elevator banks, some elevators sound a loud ding! each time the door opens. Cruise staterooms aren’t exactly soundproof, so if your ship has dinging elevators, you’re going to hear them every time.

When you pick a room right by the elevators, people will be walking by your cabin at all hours of the day and night to get to their own better-situated rooms, including all the late-night partiers stumbling back after an evening at the nightclub.

Another issue to consider is that larger elevator banks are often located next to staircases. Sound carries even more in those locations from the decks above and below.

Choose a room that’s within a reasonable walking distance from the elevators, and you’ll enjoy a much quieter night’s sleep.

You may also like: 10 Rookie Cruise Mistakes to Avoid When Booking

3. Cabins with a view to public areas

If you book a balcony or oceanview stateroom, you might assume your cabin looks out over the ocean and no one will be able to see into your room when your curtains are open. But that’s not always the case!

On some cruise ships, certain oceanview cabins actually face onto a passenger promenade. So yes, you’ll have that lovely sea view. But you’ll also have other passengers walking right by your window (and maybe peeking right into your cabin—people are nosy!)

In an effort to offer more passengers the chance to have a window or balcony (and to increase revenue, of course) some cruise lines recently have been building ships with inside balconies or even inside windows!

RCI’s Symphony of the Seas features interior balconies overlooking the public Central Park area (image courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

Some Royal Caribbean ships offer interior balconies that look out over Central Park—a public area with restaurants, shops, and galleries. These inward-facing balcony cabins are spacious (and less expensive than ocean-facing balconies) but don’t offer the privacy you might expect.

So if privacy is what you crave, make sure not to book a stateroom with a view to public areas.

You may also like: Port vs Starboard: Which Side Is Better on a Cruise?

4. Cabins above or below entertainment venues

Booking a stateroom one floor above or below the ship’s entertainment venues, like the theater or nightclubs, might sound like a good idea. It’s always fun to be right near the action, right?

If you’re a night owl, you might think that a room near the theater won’t bother you. After all, you’re never back to the room until well after the last show finishes. But, especially if you like to sleep in or nap in the afternoon, know that rehearsals also take place in the theater—these can be just as loud as the show!

Those of us with early bedtimes (or families cruising with kids) should avoid booking staterooms above or below the theater and other noisy entertainment spaces.

5. Cabins above or near the casino or smoking lounge

Much like choosing a stateroom near the theater, picking a room near the casino can lead to lots of unwanted noise in your room when you’re trying to sleep.

(image courtesy of Holland America Line)

But passengers in rooms near or just up a staircase from the casino sometimes notice another issue—the smell of cigarette smoke. Many cruise lines do allow smoking in some parts of the casino. Unless you’re booked on a cruise line with smoke-free casinos (contact your cruise line for current rules), you might not be happy with your cabin’s location.

The same goes for cabins near the smoking lounge or other designated smoking areas. Although many ships’ smoking sections are located in out-of-the-way areas, this isn’t always the case. If you’re sensitive to smoke (or would just prefer not to smell it), check the ship’s deck plans for the casino and smoking lounge locations before you choose your cabin.

You may also like: Can You Smoke on a Cruise Ship? The Ultimate Guide

6. Cabins with too much motion

Do you tend to get motion sickness or seasickness? Choosing the wrong cabin location can make your motion sickness much worse, especially if your cruise ship encounters rough seas.

In staterooms that are located on higher decks, or very far forward or aft, you’ll often feel much more of the ship’s motion as it rocks on the waves. Although modern cruise ships are equipped with high-tech stabilizers that eliminate most of the pitching and rolling you’d feel on a smaller vessel, you’ll still notice a significant difference on higher decks versus lower ones, and from midship to far forward or aft.

Instead, choose a cabin on a lower deck in a midship location to minimize the feeling of motion when you’re trying to get some rest.

You may also like: How to Avoid Getting Sick on a Cruise

7. Adjoining cabins

When you’re traveling with family or friends, having adjoining cabins can be lots of fun! These rooms have a locking door in the connecting wall that you can open when you want to hang out, and then close later for privacy.

(image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

However, if you’re not cruising with friends or family in the next room, that closed door can let in sounds from the neighboring stateroom. Cruise cabins generally aren’t very soundproof to begin with, so avoid booking one that features an adjoining door if you don’t need it.

You may also like: Eight Things That Will Surprise First Time Cruisers

8. Cabins near the anchor

If you’re considering a cabin on a lower deck that’s near the ship’s bow, be aware that you might hear lots of loud clanking when the ship anchors.

Cruise ships won’t drop anchor when they dock at a port (they actually tie up at the pier), but they do need to use the anchor at tender ports.

Learn more: Everything You Need to Know About Tender Ports on a Cruise

Even at tender ports, cruise ships usually don’t reach port until after sunrise, so earlier risers won’t be woken up by the anchor chain playing out through the hatch. But it might interrupt your leisurely balcony breakfast by making you jump out of your seat!

Cruisers who enjoy sleeping in should avoid low, forward cabins, especially if your cruise itinerary includes several tender ports.

If you’re booking a small-ship cruise, know that the clanking sound of the anchor’s chain can be difficult to avoid. One morning during my Alaska sailing with UnCruise Adventures, the officers dropped anchor at 3 AM. All of us passengers woke with a start, no matter the location of our cabin.

Tip: If you’re sensitive to noise, packing some noise-canceling earplugs can help you sleep if you accidentally booked a noisy cabin.

9. Cabins just below the pool deck

Unless you enjoy being woken up before dawn by crewmembers dragging the sun loungers around, avoid booking a stateroom that’s just below the pool deck.

(image courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

During warm-weather sailings, the pool deck is where much of the action is on a cruise! All day long, the Lido deck is packed full of happy cruisers enjoying the sunshine, dancing to the party band, and generally being very noisy. It’s a fun, festive atmosphere when you’re up there enjoying it!

But if you like to relax in your stateroom or take a catnap during the day, don’t book a room right below the pool deck—you’ll regret it as soon as you lie down and wonder if elephants are practicing the cha-cha overhead.

Early mornings aren’t any better for the unfortunate souls who book staterooms in this area. Ship’s crew clean the decks at dawn—that means dragging the chairs around, mopping the floors, and dragging the chairs back again.

10. Guarantee cabins

Many cruise lines offer “guarantee” staterooms at a discount. You’ll choose the lowest category of cabin you’d like to cruise in, and the cruise line picks a room for you in that category or higher. Usually, your cabin assignment is allocated just prior to sailing.

Learn more: What Is a Guarantee Stateroom on a Cruise (and Should You Book One)?

Although choosing a guarantee cabin is often the best way to get a free upgrade, you’ll have no say in your stateroom’s location—it could be anywhere on the ship! You could end up with a fully-obstructed view, a room right above the noisy theater, or a cabin all the way aft on a higher deck (not the best choice if you get seasick).

Or you could get lucky and pay for a guarantee inside, only to find out you’ve been upgraded to a spacious balcony cabin—you never know.

If you’re picky about your cabin location, play it safe and steer clear of guarantee staterooms. There’s always a chance that you might end up with the worst cabin on the cruise ship! Instead, pay a little more and choose a stateroom that you know you’ll be happy sailing in.

What are your opinions on the worst cruise ship cabins? Which staterooms do you avoid at all costs? Let me know in the comments below!

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Carrie Ann Karstunen