Inside cabin vs. balcony room: Which cruise cabin category should you choose? - The Points Guy (2024)

Many cruise planning decisions come down to cost — and which cabin you choose has one of the biggest impacts on your bottom line. If price is an issue, you'll likely find yourself with the dilemma of whether to book an inside cabin or a balcony cabin. The choice isn't always easy.

For travelers cruising on a budget, a windowless inside cabin may be an excellent option. These cabins are the most economical accommodations, yet they still provide access to all the complimentary dining venues, entertainment, pools and other public areas on the ship. But will you be happy in a room without a view?

Balcony cabins are the most popular cabin type, offering access to more living space, sunset views and ocean breezes from your private veranda. These accommodations are more affordable than fancy suites, but can cost as much as 50% to 100% more than interior cabins, depending on the length and destination of the voyage. Is the higher fare worth it?

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If you're trying to decide which accommodations to choose, here's what you need to know to make the choice between a windowless inside room and a more spacious yet expensive balcony cabin.

Are there differences between inside and balcony cabins regarding size and amenities?

The main difference is that balcony cabins are typically larger — with most, but not all, of the extra square footage going to the veranda. The cabin's outer wall will be floor-to-ceiling windows with a door that leads to an additional seating area outside; the seating area usually consists of two chairs with a small table between them. An inside cabin has no window or access to natural light or fresh air.

Both standard inside and balcony categories are designed for double occupancy, but some rooms in either category can sleep up to four. The cabins will have two twin beds that can convert into one queen-size bed, a small desk or vanity with a mirror and chair, and a private bathroom. Some rooms will also have a small sofa that may be a pullout bed to accommodate additional guests.

Other amenities such as a closet, a flat-screen television, a minifridge, a personal safe, a hair dryer and bathroom toiletries will be similar.

Related: The 5 best cabin locations on any cruise ship

Is a balcony more important on certain sailings?

Inside cabin vs. balcony room: Which cruise cabin category should you choose? - The Points Guy (2)

If you're going on a shorter cruise — such as a three-night sailing in the Caribbean — an inside cabin may be a perfect and affordable option. You'll likely be sipping mai tais poolside or heading ashore to the cruise line's private island during the days, so you won't be in the room other than to sleep and freshen up for the evening.

If you aren't spending much time in the room, it probably won't matter if you have less space and no balcony. You can still see the sunset or watch the ship pulling into port by heading upstairs and taking in the views from the pool deck. Save the extra money to splurge on dinner and a bottle of wine at the steakhouse or a tour in port.

If you're on a longer sailing in a destination such as the Mediterranean and have several days at sea — and plan to spend time in your cabin during your cruise — then you probably want the extra space and the view. It's nice to open the door to have the fresh air if it's cooler outside. You might also enjoy seeing the coastline or cities as you pull into port — without having to go upstairs to view the scenery with everyone else.

You'll also be able to sit outdoors, have a glass of wine or read a book in private. You can order room service and enjoy a quiet breakfast or dinner on the veranda. It's a nice change of pace from going to the bustling lounges for a co*cktail or to the restaurants for a meal.

If you don't feel well and are confined to your room, you'll appreciate the larger accommodation and the option to sit outside on the balcony.

Balcony cabins offer excellent viewing opportunities if you're cruising in scenic places like Alaska and sailing through Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. While you may not be guaranteed all the best views from your veranda — as they may be on the other side of the ship — you can skip the crowds on the top decks and gaze out at the majestic snowcapped mountains and surreal blue glaciers from your private terrace.

Related: Why it pays to upgrade your cruise ship cabin

Should my travel party determine which cabin I choose?

Inside cabin vs. balcony room: Which cruise cabin category should you choose? - The Points Guy (3)

Suppose you're sailing with your spouse, significant other or best friend. In that case, you'll probably have enough space for two people to be comfortable in an interior cabin, especially if you're busy on and off the ship — and it's a short cruise. On a longer sailing, you might use a balcony for alone time with your sweetie or for heart-to-hearts with your bestie — away from the crowded public decks.

If it's an extended cruise and you're sailing with kids, it might be a challenge to stay in a standard interior cabin as a family and remain sane after a week. You might find larger inside cabins offer more space and better sleeping accommodations with a pullout sofa bed or bunk beds. Again, these will cost more than the basic inside room.

If you can upgrade to a balcony cabin, you'll have more room to spread out and store your stuff. Parents will also appreciate the chance to relax on the balcony with an adult beverage after the kids go to bed.

Related: Which cruise ship cabins should your family book?

If you're a solo traveler, you must pay a single supplement for most cabin accommodations. When deciding between an inside or balcony cabin, you'll need to budget for that. The extra cost can be as much as double the cruise fare, so it may affect which cabin you can afford.

Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America and Royal Caribbean offer solo cabins that don't have a single supplement; these include inside, ocean-view and balcony rooms, depending on the line. Expect these to cost more than a standard inside or balcony room but less than the cost of that room with a 100% supplement. Other companies might offer promotions on select sailings with no single supplement, leaving you with the budget for a bigger cabin.

Related: These 8 cabins are great for travelers cruising alone

What are other advantages of booking an inside vs. a balcony cabin?

If you're a light sleeper who needs a quiet, dark space to get a good night's sleep, book an inside cabin. You won't have to worry about bright light peeking through the curtains in the morning to wake you up. You should also set the alarm if you have an early excursion or appointment in the morning since you won't be able to tell what time it is. It's easy to oversleep when it's cozy, dark and cool in the cabin.

If you need natural light for health reasons and are prone to motion sickness — especially if the seas are rough or you get claustrophobic — you probably won't be happy in an interior cabin. Seeing the horizon and having access to fresh air is essential when the ship starts to pitch and roll, so you'd do better splurging on the balcony cabin.

What are the best inside cabins?

Inside cabin vs. balcony room: Which cruise cabin category should you choose? - The Points Guy (4)

Royal Caribbean features game-changing inside cabins with a "virtual balcony" on select ships. The 80-inch, high-definition LED screens stretch nearly from floor to ceiling. They give the illusion of a huge window with real-time views and sounds of the ocean and destination piped into the room.

Carnival Cruise Line's interior cabins are some of the largest in the industry, ranging from 185 to 220 square feet. These cabins include two twin beds or one king-size bed, and the larger rooms can sleep up to five guests. Family Harbor accommodations also offer additional perks with access to the Family Harbor Lounge, which includes complimentary snacks, games, movies and other perks like free specialty dining for the kids.

Disney Cruise Line's interior cabins with Magical Portholes also feature live sea cam views on a circular screen — and an occasional appearance from Disney characters.

Norwegian Cruise Line's studio cabins for solo travelers are inside rooms with a full-size bed, a one-way window onto the corridor, a separate bathroom, sink and shower. It also provides keycard access to the Studio Lounge, where single guests can mix and mingle.

What are the best balcony cabins?

Inside cabin vs. balcony room: Which cruise cabin category should you choose? - The Points Guy (5)

Celebrity Cruises' Infinite Veranda cabins on its Edge-class ships are 23% larger than those on its Solstice-class ships, with 243 total square feet and 42 square feet of balcony space. These versatile cabins allow you to transform your room from a traditional-style balcony cabin — open to fresh air and closed off from the interior portion of a room — to a completely enclosed room with a view and the terrace inside.

How? With the touch of a button, the top half of a floor-to-ceiling window slides down; you can close doors to create a separate veranda or leave them open to bring the fresh air into the entire cabin.

Virgin Voyages' Sea Terraces, at 225 to 265 square feet, feature an additional seating arrangement on the balcony. In addition to the typical two chairs and a small table for drinks, you'll also find a red hammock where you can sit and swing the afternoon away.

Related: The best cruise ship balcony cabins for your vacation at sea

Bottom line

If you're on vacation and having a great time — and not spending much time in your cabin — it may not matter where you rest your head at night. If you can save the extra money and splurge on five-course dinners and more immersive excursions, booking an inside cabin may be the way to go.

If you'd rather enjoy the views from a private balcony — and have a space to escape other cruisers — and you plan to spend more time in your room, book a balcony cabin where you'll be more comfortable. A balcony will also be a better bet if you're trying to fit more than two people in one cruise cabin. If the extra cost is a concern, and you're flexible on dates and destinations, look for deals where balcony cabins will be less expensive.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways cruisers waste money
  • 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Inside cabin vs. balcony room: Which cruise cabin category should you choose? - The Points Guy (2024)


Inside cabin vs. balcony room: Which cruise cabin category should you choose? - The Points Guy? ›

If you'd rather enjoy the views from a private balcony — and have a space to escape other cruisers — and you plan to spend more time in your room, book a balcony cabin where you'll be more comfortable. A balcony will also be a better bet if you're trying to fit more than two people in one cruise cabin.

What is the best category on a cruise ship? ›

Suites: If you're looking for luxury on your cruise, suites offer the most space and best room locations, often with separate living and sleeping areas. They generally feature large balconies, and extra amenities and perks. In other words, a suite can be considered the best cabin on any cruise ship.

Is it worth getting a balcony cabin on a cruise? ›

Even on smaller, more luxurious ships that don't feel crowded, a balcony is desirable; if the weather is such that you can spend a lot of time on your balcony, it's like having an additional room.

What is the best cabin level on a cruise ship? ›

The most stable part of the ship is its lowest point of gravity, so on a lower deck, at the center. You'd feel a lot less motion here than, say, in a stateroom on the upper decks a long way forward or aft (towards the back of the ship).

Is an outside cabin better than an inside cabin? ›

Outside vs.

If you absolutely must have natural light or a way to see your external surroundings from your room, an outside cabin is for you. Otherwise, save yourself some cash, and book an inside cabin -- especially if you don't plan on spending much time in your cabin during the day.

Where are the best and worst cabins on a cruise ship? ›

Log in .
  • Ocean-level cabins.
  • Studio rooms.
  • Port or starboard staterooms.
  • Cabins close to popular attractions.
  • Rooms by elevators.
  • Staterooms directly above or below busy areas.
Jan 30, 2024

What is the difference in cruise cabin categories? ›

On cruise ships, the basic cabin categories are inside, outside (often called ocean view), balcony and suite — but there are subcategories, as well. Typically, inside cabins are smaller and cheaper; suites are larger and more expensive.

Which balcony is best on a cruise? ›

The higher you pick, the farther you'll see. If you're after views, the best room on a cruise ship will be a balcony cabin at the ship's rear end.

Which cabin on a cruise ship is best to avoid seasickness? ›

To reduce motion sickness, choose a stateroom in the middle of the ship on a lower deck. You will feel any sway of the ship less in this section. Although it may seem counterintuitive, if you're worried about seasickness on a cruise, book a stateroom with a window or a veranda.

Which part of a cruise ship is best for cabin? ›

The big allure of a midship cabin is its stability. You won't feel the rocking of the sea in a midship cabin nearly as much as you will in a cabin toward the front or back of a vessel. This is because ships are like teeter-totters. They pitch forward and back around a central axis that barely moves.

Is it better to sleep higher or lower on a cruise ship? ›

Choose a cabin on the lower decks. The lower your cabin, the less rocking sensation you will experience. If you are prone to motion sickness, try to reserve one of these sleeping areas for maximum comfort.

Is it worth it to prepay gratuities on a cruise? ›

Depending on the cruise line and type of room, you should expect a daily charge of $16 to $23 for gratuities. There are a couple of good reasons why you might want to prepay, including getting to spend less during your trip and locking in the current rate.

What is the safest cabin on a cruise ship? ›

We have prepared a list of part of the cruise that is the safest:
  1. Mid-ship staterooms. Choosing a room in the ship's centre is the greatest method to prevent seasickness if it is something you are concerned about. ...
  2. Lower decks. ...
  3. Ocean-view balconies. ...
  4. Aft cabins.
Apr 18, 2023

Are inside cruise cabins worth it? ›

Interior cabins on cruises are for anyone who wants to travel smarter. They're usually the cheapest, and the lack of a balcony or window encourages me to explore the ship.

Is it worth it to upgrade to a balcony on a cruise? ›

If you have a standard step-out balcony, it will be furnished with chairs and a small table for drinks. Some larger balconies have loungers and an actual dining table where you can enjoy a private meal. Some cruisers consider a balcony an unnecessary upgrade.

Which cruise room category is less expensive? ›

The standard (and least expensive) room on any cruise ship is typically called an inside or interior stateroom.

What level of a cruise ship is best? ›

The higher the deck, the better and, often, more panoramic the view. Cabins on top decks aren't always the best on the ship, but many suites and specialty cabin categories are typically located on upper decks. Like to be near all the action? Most mega-ships place their lido (pool) areas on higher decks.

What are category codes on cruises? ›

The number corresponds to the type of stateroom (inside, oceanview, verandah) and typically the higher the number the more economical the stateroom is. The letter that follows it (A-E) corresponds to the location on the ship and typically the higher decks have either an A or a B, but that is not always the case.

Is it better to be on a higher deck on a cruise? ›

The higher and further forward (or aft) you go, the more motion you will feel, especially in rough seas. Your View Preferences: Upper decks typically provide more expansive views of the ocean and ports. If waking up to a breathtaking sea view is important to you, consider booking a room on a higher deck.

What are the three basic categories of cruise ship? ›

Some of the differences are subtle, but today's cruise lines largely fall into three basic categories: mainstream, premium, and luxury.


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