Inside vs Outside Cruise Cabins - We compare each room type and help you decide which is better for your next family cruise.
We love to travel as a family here at Dadtography.com, but it can definitely be challenging at times. We've now sailed on 9 family cruises together and we've learned a few things during those trips.
One of the biggest questions we receive is, "As a family, should we book an inside stateroom or a window, balcony or suite for our trip?"
Suite, Balcony, Window or Interior? That IS the question for your next family cruise. We will break down the plusses and minuses of each cruise cabin type, specifically from a family travel perspective and help you make the best decision for your next cruise vacation.
Let's start with cruise cabin suites - what are the plusses and minuses of traveling in a suite?
We're going to start with the largest and most expensive cruise cabin types first in this comparison.
Go big or go home, right? 🙂
In many ways, cruise suites are great! They're often the largest rooms on the ship, they offer traveling families plenty of space - sometimes as much as an apartment or condo!
Carnival vs Royal Caribbean Bahamas Cruise Video
Different suites on each of the cruise lines and even from ship to ship on the same cruise line may vary, so be sure to check the details of the room before you book it.
If you're a large family or group traveling, suites can offer a pretty good option to stay together in the same room, depending upon the room capacity.
Often times, booking a suite on a cruise means that you'll benefit from additional perks and extras as well. Sometimes you'll get to board the ship earlier than others, to enjoy more time. Some cruise lines offer special "VIP" check-in processes for suite guests, and the largest suites on many cruise lines even come with your own personal concierge!
However, with all that space and those potential extra perks comes extra expense as well.
When you compare average costs of suites vs the least expensive rooms, you'll expect to pay 5x, 6x or even 10x+ more for the room! It's up to you to determine if that extra cost is worth it. For some it is, for many it's not.
Bottom line: Who should book a suite on their next family vacation?
Less price-sensitive families that are traveling with a larger (4+) number of people and that want to stay in the same cabin, but have enough space to move around.
Next up, cruise cabin balcony rooms - what are the plusses and minuses of traveling in a balcony stateroom?
I'll say it right up front - I am pretty much decided that balcony staterooms are my favorite type of cruise ship cabin.
Most often when my family travels, we're either a family of 3 or 4 - with either 1 or 2 kids and 2 adults.
For us, cruise ship balcony staterooms offer a great balance of space and functionality, but they can be more expensive than the other interior and window rooms.
Again, when it comes to cost, it's up to you to decide how much is too much. Keep an eye on pricing for balcony rooms, though - especially close to the sailing date for a cruise. If not all balcony rooms have been booked, you may be able to get a price break if you book or upgrade close to the sailing date and the ship isn't full.
I really like balconies because they offer a bit more in-cabin space (usually around 50 sq. ft more than interior rooms), and of course they also come with a private balcony. The balconies can vary in size, but they're usually not all that large. They do offer enough space for a couple of chairs and a table in most cases. Balcony staterooms are perfect for those that like to wake up and sip their coffee in private for a few minutes before dealing with others.
Balcony rooms can be less quiet and more noisy than other room types, because they're usually on higher decks of the ship, closer to the decks where parties and other activities are happening. Be sure to be aware of these types of things before you book a balcony room.
Bottom line: Who should book a balcony room on their next family vacation?
Families traveling with 1 or 2 children that want a bit more space, a private balcony but don't want to break the bank.
What are the plusses and minuses of traveling in a window view cabin?
Continuing our cruise cabin comparison, the next level down on most ships typically is an outside room that has a decent sized window, but doesn't offer any outdoor space.
On most ships, window view staterooms are the same size as their interior stateroom neighbors, but that can vary depending upon the ship and room location.
Window view rooms offer families quite a bit more light than interior staterooms. That can be both good and bad depending upon what type of sleeper you are.
If you're like me and you're going on vacation to rest and relax, a near perfectly dark interior stateroom may allow you to sleep better.
In theory, window staterooms offer a view for cruise passengers, but all of the window view rooms I've stayed in didn't really have the best view from the room. Most often times the window was so dirty or cloudy it made looking out more difficult. Oh, and forget trying to take photos out the window.
Bottom line: Who should book a window view stateroom on their next family vacation?
Window view cabins are best for those that don't want their rooms to be too dark and are okay with spending a bit more. If you're claustrophobic, window rooms will be a better option than inside cabins as well.
Last, but not least - inside cabins. What are the plusses and minuses of traveling in a inside cruise stateroom?
Most rooms on a ship are on lower decks (5 or lower) and are inside the ship. It's important to remember that cruise ship capacity is based on head count, not whether or not the rooms are all occupied, so each sailing may have unoccupied suites or balconies.
Of course, the cruise line doesn't want this scenario because they make the least money on inside staterooms.
Inside rooms can be great for some traveling families - they're almost always the least expensive, offering more money to spend on other activities. Inside rooms are dark and can be great for those that struggle to sleep when there is light (like me).
Inside staterooms can vary from ship to ship and cruise line as well. Disney Cruise Line is known for having overall larger rooms, so an inside cabin on a Disney ship may be larger than a comparable room on Carnival, for example.
Some people can be picky about the location on the ship of their inside cabin as well. I've stayed in inside cabins in the front, in the rear, on the side, up high, down low (you're too slow - dad joke, sorry). I haven't noticed significant differences in most interior cabin locations with one exception.
If your cabin is near a main hallway door - where people coming from the elevators or stairways must pass to get to their rooms, your room will be less quiet. The best locations for rooms often book early, so if you know you're going on a certain sailing, book early to get the best room location.
Bottom line: Who should book an inside cabin their next family vacation?
Cost-conscious families of up to 4 people. Families and individuals that don't mind darker rooms or prefer them for sleeping. Families that are interested in spending their travel budgets on more than just the room.
Suite Cabin Summary
- The largest rooms on the ship - but also the most costly.
- Great for larger families (4+) traveling together.
- Depending upon the cruise line and room, can come with additional perks and amenities.
- Almost always on higher decks, a short walk from most activities.
Balcony Cabin Summary
- Offers more square feet that inside or window cabins - typically around 50 sqft.
- Depending upon the ship and sailing, can range for reasonably priced to quite costly.
- Way more light than interior or window cabins.
- Usually on higher decks, closer to the lido deck (buffet and pools).
- Can be quite noisy depending upon the room location on some ships.
Window Cabin Summary
- Rooms are similar in most ways to inside cabins except with a window.
- Less claustrophobic feeling with a bit more light in the room.
- Still pretty quiet and dark, good for those trying to sleep.
- Also on lower decks, with lots of stairs to climb or elevators to wait for.
- Still quite small and can feel crowded for families with children.
Inside Cabin Summary
- Usually the most economical choice. Best for cost-conscious families.
- Spend the money you save on shore excursions or other activities.
- Often quiet and dark - you'll sleep well!
- Usually on lower decks, further away from the "action".
- Often the smallest rooms on the ship - can be tight for a family.