It happens all the time. Someone spends thousands of dollars on a cruise and then they end up not able to sleep at night as the sound of running and chairs scraping on the deck above them keeps them tossing and turning all night long. To avoid being disappointed in your stateroom, we have compiled a list of the top 5 locations you might want to think twice about before booking.
1. Under the Lido deck. This isn’t always called the Lido Deck on each ship, but its the deck that commonly will have the pool, buffet and other deck space. The trouble with having a stateroom under the Lido deck is that there usually is activity happening there all the time, especially under the buffet area. You may hear jumping, chair scraping, and running. This may go on till 1 or 2 in the morning. Then at about 4 or 5 in the morning the crew will be up getting things ready to go. If you are under the kitchen area you may hear the crew firing up the stove and preparing for the breakfast buffet. Cruise ships will often have deck parties on the Lido deck.
2. Near a white space on the deck plan. The deck plans usually only show areas of concern to the cruise passengers. What you don’t see is housekeeping rooms, crew only elevators, laundry rooms, and more. Unless you know what is in the blank white areas on the deck plans it is best to avoid them. In some cases it may be the housekeeping supply room. Cruisers have been awakened very early in the morning as the housekeepers work to prepare their supplies for the day. There can be activity in and out of the rooms and you may hear doors open and close constantly.
3. Over the lounge. The lounges to watch out for are the ones where bands may play and passengers dance. Sometimes these venues run till after midnight. And if you are trying to have some quiet time in your stateroom right above the lounge, you may instead be hearing the beating of the music and the noise from the lounge below your stateroom. When Norwegian Cruise Line moved the Spinnaker lounge on a couple of their ships to the aft on deck 7, the staterooms above on deck 8 (that use to be over a very quiet gift shop) now were over a popular lounge that can be very noisy well after midnight.
4. Over or under the casino. Casinos deliberately use noise to try to attract customers and put them in the mood for gambling. So all those slot machines have their volume cranked up to try to draw you in. The problem is, if you are in a stateroom above or below the casino, you don’t want to be drawn in if you are trying to sleep. Unless you love to go to sleep with the sounds of Las Vegas pounding in your head, we would avoid booking a stateroom near the casino.
5. Under the fitness center. The fitness center usually begins to see activity as early as 5:00 in the morning. While it’s great getting in shape on the treadmill early in the morning, it is not so great for the folks trying to sleep in the cabins below the fitness center.
There are other areas to watch out for, such as near the gangways or other areas with lots of foot traffic going by.
On the flip side there are some good stateroom locations that tend to lead to a much better cruise experience. As long as the following staterooms don’t meet any of the criteria above then you should be good to go. The top 5 best locations are as follows:
1. In between other staterooms. If your cabin has staterooms above, below, and on all sides of it then you are more likely to have a good experience in the cabin. This is not always a guarantee though as you may end up with a neighbor that likes to crank up the TV volume. But normally the other passengers around you are also looking to get some sleep so that they can enjoy the next day’s activities.
2. On the aft of the ship. Aft cabins tend to be very popular because they offer wonderful views of the wake of the ship and don’t usually have a lot of neighbors. You still need to be aware of what is around your stateroom though. On some Princess ships, for example, the aft stateroom might be near a loud exhaust vent that also might be releasing some unpleasant smells (check out the blank white spaces on the deck plans). For the most part the aft cabins are a hit and cruise customers love them.
3. Midship staterooms. A Midship stateroom on an upper deck tends to lead to a better cruise experience. The location can make getting around easier since you are located in a more central location to where you want to be. Some of the ships are very large and walking from one end of the ship to another may give you more exercise than you want. Also because the elevators can sometimes be busy, if you have to use the stairs, this location will mean less stairs to go up or down.
4. Expanded balconies. Sometimes the deck plans show them and sometimes they don’t but some cabins have larger balconies than others. Space is everything on a cruise ship and these extra spaces can make your cruise experience that much better. Instead of sitting on a cramped balcony, these balconies tend to have loungers that allow you to really stretch out. Some of them are covered (protected from the weather and wind) and some are open (lots of sun). Several Carnival ships have expanded balconies marked out on the deck plans. On some of the Grand Princess class ships the last aft cabins on the port and starboard side of the emerald and dolphin decks have expanded balconies.
5. Hidden Gems. There are lots of these on a cruise ship and a good cruise/travel agent will know about them. For example, forward oceanview cabins on the upper decks of some Celebrity ships, such as the Celebrity Summit, are much larger than a normal oceanview and the large porthole window offers some fantastic views of the bow of the ship. On some smaller Princess ships, such as the Dawn Princess, the oceanview cabins on the forward of the Dolphin deck offer a very large balcony sized window. On some Carnival ships, such as the Carnival Legend, some inside cabins on the Main deck actually have french doors that let in a lot of light and some of them actually have a view through the lifeboats.
There is a lot more that we could add to the list. Because cruise ships designers only have a certain amount of space to work with, they can sometimes be very creative in how they lay out the staterooms. Studying the deck plans and studying cabin pictures help to determine what is good and what is not so good, but the best way to know is to actually take an adventure onto the high seas yourself and try out the different types of staterooms.