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Are Cruise Ship Cabins Soundproof? (Thin Walls, Balconies and Travelling Sound)

If considering a cruise you might wonder if the cabin you book will be soundproof.

I’ve been cruising since I was 11 and In this article, we look at this question and highlight things to consider before you choose and book your cabin.

I’ve had cabins with varying degrees of soundproofing!

Are Cruise Ship Cabins Soundproof?

Cruise ship cabins aren’t soundproof. The cabins are prefabricated in a factory and are basically long metal boxes that are slotted into the side of the ship when it is being built.

The interiors – bathroom fixtures and fittings, furniture, carpets, curtains – even pictures on the wall are in place before the cabin reaches the ship!

Although the cruise lines will do the best they can in the way of insulation and sound deadening, the walls are very thin (for weight reasons) so there are limitations to what can be done.

costa smeralda inside cabin bed tv

What are cruise cabins made of?

Cruise cabins are oblong boxes made from metal and steel. The cabin door is metal and if you have a cabin with an interconnecting door to the next cabin, this will be metal too.

Balcony cabins will have a sliding or opening glass door out to the balcony.

The Balcony itself is made from metal, as are the dividers that separate your balcony from that of your neighbours.

Some balconies have a wooden top railing. Balcony railings are usually around four feet high, but they have plexiglass or metal railings further down. This is useful as you can still see the view when sitting down.

The exception to this are Sheltered balcony cabins (as found on ships like the Queen Mary 2) or Cove Balcony cabins (found on Carnival Ships.)

These cabins, as the name suggests, are more sheltered. On The Queen Mary 2 a sheltered balcony is basically just an opening in the superstructure of the ship, so you can’t see much if you are sat down or lying in bed.

Cove balcony cabins have a lower metal wall than that on The Queen Mary. This Cove balcony is topped by a wooden rail.

Because these sheltered cabins are more enclosed than standard cruise ship balconies you are likely to have more privacy.

In Sheltered balcony cabins, you will be unable to see guests on adjoining balconies – you will be less likely to hear them too!

How Thin Are Cruise Ship Cabin Walls?

Whilst cruise ship walls are not paper thin, they are certainly thin enough for noise to travel through from the surrounding cabins. Weight is a great factor when designing a cruise ship cabin, they need to keep things as strong and thin as possible.

All materials used need to be fireproof. Wood is no longer used to any great degree, due to the risk of fire.

emerald princess balcony aft cabin review

Expect to hear the noise of the next door’s toilet flushing, and maybe the sound of the cabin tv. If you have a screaming child in the adjoining cabin, you will certainly hear them!

Cabin Doors

Cabin doors from the cabin to the corridor and made of metal. They are quite heavy and are self-closing.

They are usually very well fitted in the door frame, although you may see some light from out in the corridor coming under your door at night.

You will still hear people walking down the corridors if they are noisy though.

People sometimes use metal doors to their advantage and bring magnetic decorations to decorate their doors for Christmas, birthdays or other special occasions.

disney cabin doors

Cabins with Interconnecting Doors

Cabins with interconnecting doors are great for families.

On my first ever cruise on Norwegian Spirit, we had interconnecting cabins which were really useful as we were in a large family group.

Sometimes though, you may end up with a cabin with an interconnecting door, when you didn’t ask for one.

Although these interconnecting doors will be locked, many people find that they can hear every word said in the next-door cabin through this door!

Avoid cabins with interconnecting doors if you don’t specifically need them.

You can check on the ship’s deck plans to see if there is an interconnecting door in your cabin.

If you are choosing your own cabin location, I would highly recommend studying the deck plans before booking.

  • You will then be aware if your chosen cabin is right next to the lifts/elevators or by the stairs. People often congregate and chat here…
  • You can see if your cabin is reasonably tucked out of the way, or whether it is a thoroughfare likely to be used by many guests.
  • You can also see if your cabin is bigger – or smaller than those surrounding them. Get the best value for your money!
queen mary 2 deck plan of cabin 6198

Doors Out On To The Balcony

Most cruise ships have sliding, patio-type doors in balcony cabins.

It’s more unusual to have one, opening glass door with fixed windows out to the balcony. Ships, like The Disney Magic, or Norwegian Sky have these.

Balcony doors are double-glazed and offer good protection from the weather – and from the noise made by other guests or venues onboard.

On P&O’s Iona we were lucky enough to be upgraded to a “Conservatory Mini Suite.” This had two sets of sliding, patio doors with a conservatory seating area between the two.

This was good because our balcony was on exactly the same level as the promenade deck, so you could hear snatches of people’s conversations as they walked past when the balcony doors were open!

p&o iona conservatory balcony cabin

To hear all about this controversial cabin, watch the video below:

Where are Cabins Located?

Guest cabins are located all over the ship, the more guests they can accommodate, the more profit there is to be made by the cruise lines!

Crew cabins are situated lower down in the ship in the less desirable areas. They can be very cramped and rarely have windows. Most crew members are expected to share cabins with colleagues.

Officers, Managers and Supervisors may have slightly larger cabins, and some even get porthole windows. The more important your position, the better your cabin is, seems to be the bottom line!

Lots of the larger ships have decks and decks that just contain guest cabins.

If you choose a cabin here, you will avoid being disturbed by people using the public areas of the ship. The payoff to that is that you will have to walk up and down stairs, or use the lifts to get to the buffet, pool, bar etc when you need to.

Cabin locations to consider avoiding if you want a quiet cruise:

  1. Above or below nightclubs
  2. Under swimming pools
  3. Close to the theatre
  4. Underneath the buffet
  5. Close to the Atrium

What Noises Might You Hear When In Your Cruise Ship Cabin?

  1. Other guests in their cabinsYou may hear their toilet flushing, the tv, people talking or arguing, and children crying. Usually, this is just a low background noise that I am aware of – but it doesn’t disturb me. However, you might be unlucky enough to have very noisy or inconsiderate neighbours!
  2. People on their balcony. When using your balcony, be aware that others might be using theirs – and there is only a metal partition between you. Look up and there may be decks and decks of balconies above you. You may find you are surrounded on every side!
  3. People walking (or running!) up and down the corridors late at night. Normally people are pretty considerate when coming back to their cabins late at night. The exception to this was on my cruise on Costa Smeralda, where people stayed out late at night, returning in the early hours talking loudly, with crying children, having no concern it seems for those trying to sleep!
  4. Noise from public venues on the ship We were below the buffet/food court on Virgin Voyages Scarlett Lady. We constantly heard the noise of scraping of chairs and trolleys being wheeled across the floor.

Have I had problems with noisy cabins?

  1. My Carnival Magic cabin was the loudest I have ever had, as it was right above a piano bar and nightclub.
  2. In my cabin on Costa Smeralda, I was kept awake by the White Night Party in the dome above my cabin. My parents were on a lower deck and were regularly disturbed by guests with small children returning noisily to their cabins in the early hours of the morning.
  3. On Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady we were directly below the buffet, and there was lots of noise from scraping chairs and trolleys being wheeled across the floors. I wouldn’t choose that position again.

Other Noises To Be Aware Of:


Depending on your cabin location on the ship, you may be aware of vibrations. The older the cruise ship, the more likely this is to be a problem for you.

Vibrations are often much stronger if you are cruising in an inside cabin, low down.

On some older ships, you may also feel a vibration when on higher decks. I cruised on the Celestyal Olympia who was originally built for Royal Caribbean back in 1982.

The Celestyal Olympia has a bar that wraps around the funnel and in this bar, you are able to feel the vibration of the ship quite prominently.

That said, I actually enjoy it, the vibration reminds me that I’m onboard a cruise ship! 

My parents cruised in the cheapest cabin on MSC Lirica.

When the ship docked or was manoeuvring at slow speed, everything in the cabin shook and vibrated quite alarmingly!

This actually was a blessing in disguise. They were in an inside cabin, only one room away from a door to a deck at the back of the ship.

When it woke them up, they could quickly get dressed and dash outside to see the sail in!

To find out all about cruise ship vibration and other movements you may feel, check out the article below:

You May Feel Movement on a Cruise Ship – Here’s When and Why

What Can You do To Avoid Being Disturbed?

  1. If you are a light sleeper and are disturbed easily, don’t ever pick a “guaranteed cabin.” Although not picking your cabin location is a cheaper option, you will get a leftover cabin – the one that no one else has booked. Fine for heavy sleepers like me – but definitely not for everyone!
  2. Pack earplugs just in case. I always keep earplugs in my washbag, so I am prepared if I ever need them.
  3. Speak to your cabin steward or reception staff if you find your neighbours to be loud and inconsiderate. Ask if it is possible for you to move cabins – of course, if the ship is fully booked, this may not be an option.

I find that people want to help you if you ask for their help politely – don’t ever be rude or demanding! It is unlikely to get you anywhere.

I would advise against tackling the noisy neighbours yourself.

Is The Lack of Soundproofing a Problem?

Although cabins aren’t soundproofed, the noises from the surrounding cabins and public spaces are rarely a problem for me. I am usually out and about during the daytime, and I sleep well at night.

Of course, the cruise line you are travelling with may be a factor in the noise you encounter!

If you are travelling with a traditional cruise line like Cunard, you are likely to notice less noise than if you sail with a “Party” cruise line like Carnival or Virgin Voyages.

I usually book a guaranteed cabin when I cruise. To see the type of cabin I am normally allocated, watch the videos below:

I Booked The Cheapest Cabin on a MEGA Cruise Ship

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.