Cruise Ships: 7 Tips For Choosing A Cabin

If you’ve not cruised before, you may be wondering why you would want to choose a cabin.  After all, you don’t choose a hotel room!  But you do get the opportunity to make a choice on a cruise ship, and here’s why it may matter to you.

Celebrity Eclipse Aqua Balcony Cabin

Contemporary Style in an Aqua Class Balcony Cabin on the Celebrity Eclipse

Types of Cabin

On a cruise ship, cabins come in a variety of types from suites to balcony, outside or inside cabins.  Prices will generally run in a downward direction from suites to inside cabins.  Suites vary in size and amenities, with many having butler service; some are in very grand duplex or loft style with facilities such as a piano or private gym.  In a suite you will usually have a separate sitting room or sitting area, and in some cases there may be a second bedroom for your children.  Most suites have an outdoor space, sometimes with a private whirlpool tub, and also facilities for outdoor dining.  A balcony cabin will have some outdoor space which varies in size and shape by ship and deck; indoors you will normally find a sitting area alongside the sleeping area.  Outside cabins are normally arranged similarly to a balcony cabin, but feature a window or porthole instead of french doors to the outside.  Inside cabins are again similarly laid out, but feature a mirror or pictures instead of a window.

Celebrity Eclipse Aqua Class Balcony

Not all balconies are equal: this one is twice as big as the picture shows due to the shape of the ship

So how do you go about choosing your cabin?

  1. Do you want to choose?  If you want to save money on your holiday, you can elect to book a guarantee cabin.  This means that you will be allocated accommodation of at least – and sometimes better than – the grade you have purchased.  The benefit is that you save money, and can sometimes end up with a better category of cabin.  The downside is that you have no choice on where that cabin may be located on the ship.
  2. How much time are you likely to spend in your cabin?  If you intend to enjoy all the facilities available to you on the ship to their maximum, and the cabin will be where you change clothes, shower and sleep, then it may not matter to you what kind of cabin you book.  In which case, make sure you use those savings for many more happy holidays!  But if you like nothing better than to chill on your balcony with a good book, then you might want to pay more attention to where on the ship you are located.  Do you want a balcony that given you some shelter from the sun, and one where you are not overlooked?
  3. Where on the ship will you be spending most of your time?  If you love the open decks, and a big ship is your cruise liner of choice, then a cabin on the upper decks will give you quicker access to the sun.
  4. If you would like to restrict the amount of walking you do on a big ship, then choose a cabin near to one of the banks of lifts.  Consider where you will be dining, and look at a cabin with easy access to that part of the ship; it will save you from walking up and down a big ship’s long corridors each evening.
  5. If you like to lie in, think carefully before selecting a cabin at the bow, as you will hear most noise from docking at that end of the ship.  Similarly, be aware of potential noise from restaurants, the gym and theatre when choosing your cabin.
  6. If you suffer, or fear you may suffer, from seasickness, choose a cabin lower down in the ship and in the middle of the boat,  This will minimise any impact of the movement of the ship.  Having said that, it is unusual to feel much motion at all on most cruise ships, and I’ve often had to look outside to see if we’ve yet left port.
  7. Ask your travel agent for their advice.  (And perhaps audition a new agent if they don’t have any to offer!)  There are many variations on the types of cabins available, and you might just find something different that suits your needs.  For example, newer ships have inside cabins that have windows with views over the inside spaces of the ship.  There are bright and funky cabins for solo travellers on the newer Norwegian Cruise Line ships, which have an associated studio lounge where you can meet and chat with fellow solo travellers.  Finally, I have heard of a fantastic inside cabin on board Royal Caribbean.  Its window to the Royal Parade is obscured by the cows from the Ben and Jerry shop below.  So the cabin is decorated in “cow style” and… if you book it, you get free Ben & Jerry’s during your trip.  What a bonus!

P&O Azura Inside Cabin

Traditional style cabins on P&O’s Azura

Oceania Marina Suite Sitting Room

Stylish contemporary lines on Oceania’s Marina

So when it comes to cabins, first choose if you want to choose. And then if you do, choose wisely!

Cruise Quirks: Gentleman Hosts

It has to be said that dance is an integral part of cruising.  From deck parties to Zumba for fitness, salsa lessons, demonstrations by professionals, and the night clubs on board or formal tea dances, there’s an opportunity each day to get your groove on.  After all, it’s a way of compensating for all that delicious food…

What you may not realise is that there are gentlemen (and a lady or two) out there working their passage through a role as a dance host.  We found out about this early in our cruising career, when a lovely table mate on the Queen Mary 2 enlightened us.  I had been watching what I considered to be some rather forward men during afternoon tea the day before.  Afternoon tea includes a session or two from the dance orchestra, and an opportunity to take to the floor.  The gentlemen involved were circling the tables and inviting many different women to join them.  I was torn between thinking them very cheeky and offering them a high five, until I found out about the role of the dance host.

On some cruise lines, including Cunard and Fred Olsen, dance hosts are available to provide opportunities to dance for those ladies who are single or have partners with more than one left foot.  On Fred Olsen’s Black Watch, I believe there is also a lady host for those gentlemen in a similar situation wishing to dance.  We learned lots about their role from our table companion on the Queen Mary 2.  Dance hosts must be good conversationalists, happy to chat away to passengers.  They should not monopolise a single guest, nor should they dance too close (!), and they must be prepared to dance for a significant number of hours each day – perhaps up to 6, which must keep you very fit indeed.  I gained a lot of respect for them; that’s quite some time on your swirling and cha-cha-ing feet.  With the popularity of StrictlCome Dancing and Dancing With The Stars, they must be kept very busy.

And it’s not just the more mature audiences who are loving the dancing on board.  We have seen lots of younger couples hitting the floor and impressing us with what might be dance school knowledge.  You can also learn to dance on the ship, with lessons covering everything from the samba to the foxtrot.  Celebrity Eclipse uses the big spaces on Deck 14 for its dance classes, giving you one of the best views ever while you’re learning.

So if you want to be a dance host, where do you start?  The all-encompassing Job Monkey states that:

Most hosts are retired single men who work for the chance to sail around the world for free, or sometimes for a small salary. Gentlemen hosts must know a variety of different dances, but ballroom, swing, waltz, fox trot, and other more formal dances are preferred. Hosts must be able to dance for several hours almost every night so it makes sense that gentleman hosts are social people with a lot of energy. They must also be good conversationalists and enjoy social engagements as well as some hosts are asked to attend parties and onboard events that do not involve dancing.

Read more:

Ann Brenoff at the Huffington Post interviewed one of the gentleman hosts, finding that his role was not short on romantic overtures from female guests.  She writes:

“According to Alan Benedict, 58 and a Gentlemen Host™ for 20 years, the rules of conduct are clear. The men dress “in uniform” — either a tuxedo or a blue blazer at all times (replete with name tags/badges) and no jeans are ever worn, even on shore excursions. They never dance with a woman who is traveling with a male companion/husband without express permission from him. And, says Benedict, they don’t focus on the younger women on board. “We are here for the 50+ women,” he said. Hosts also make sure that all the women understand that their role is to circulate and not pair off with just one.”

Read more:

So if you are a dancing gentleman, why not consider seeing the world, keeping fit, and gathering a rich selection of experiences?