The average inside cabin on a cruise ship is around half the size of the average hotel room in the US and on my last cruise on the Carnival Magic, I booked the smallest and cheapest cabin on the entire ship.
I booked a guaranteed inside cabin.
This meant that I decided not to pick the specific position of my cabin, this saved me a little money but it did mean that I risked being given what many would consider a ‘bad’ cabin location.
Usually, the cabins that are assigned by the cruise line are the cabins that nobody else has picked, the leftover cabins.
We were sailing onboard the Carnival Magic, a ship built in 2011. Despite the ship not being that old by cruise ship standards, I had heard quite a few things about the cabins being dated and run down.
This ship has 1845 cabins and, at full capacity, she can hold a little over 4500 guests.
I Could Have Been Given a Cabin Anywhere
There are 14 decks that are open to passengers, with more decks further down for crew. I could have had a cabin anywhere from deck 1 right up to deck 10, I could have been right at the front or right at the back.
I was hoping for a cabin somewhere in the middle because I do try to avoid using the lifts/elevators when I cruise. The pool and the buffet were up on deck 10, so a walk from deck 1 to deck 10 would have been a lot. Great exercise, I’m sure, but I still hoped for a cabin in the middle.
The cabin that I was given would definitely have been considered one of the worst locations by a lot of people. It has a couple of features that many guests don’t like in a cabin.
What Cabin Were we Assigned?
Our cabin was assigned to us a couple of months before the cruise and we were given cabin 7421.
As soon as I found this out I headed to the Carnival website to have a look at the deck plans and I found our cabin at the back of deck 7. The main inside spaces were on decks 4 and 5, so 7 was perfectly in the middle – just as I would have picked if I was picking a deck. That was a good start.
I then moved on to have a look at what was above and below our cabin, at first look it looked good as we were just surrounded by cabins, but we didn’t realise at this stage that we were directly above the nightclub and piano bar.
I Haven’t Had a Problem With ‘Noisy’ Cabins Before
I’ve had cabins in the past that were in “noisy” locations and it’s never bothered me, so I hoped that it would be the same on this cruise.
I took a cruise at Christmas a couple of years ago and my inside cabin was right above the atrium, they had a Christmas carol sing-along in the atrium late in the evening and as I was laying in bed all I could hear was these faint Christmas carols, it was quite creepy, but also relaxing.
I Don’t Find Inside Cabins Claustrophobic
Lots of people worry about inside cabins without windows being claustrophobic and I often meet people who say that they won’t cruise in anything below a balcony cabin grade.
Although I do understand the love of balconies, and my last cruise was in a balcony cabin, I decided not to upgrade on this cruise because the cost was almost double that of an inside cabin.
I stayed in a hotel on land which didn’t have any windows once, it wasn’t great but it was the night before an early flight and for the early start it was a good option. I wouldn’t have had any time to look out the window anyway.
Do Modern Cruise Ships Have More Balconies?
Having a cruise ship with as many balconies as the Carnival Magic is a relatively new thing. Even within Carnival if you have a look at the oldest ship that they have that is still in operation the Carnival Ecstacy, it has 1026 cabins but only 152 have balconies. As time has moved on and more guests look to book balconies, the ship designs have changed to accommodate this.
Embarkation Was Very Easy
When we boarded the ship our cabins weren’t ready so we waited a little while on the top deck. Announcements were made saying that our cabins would be ready at 1.30 but we did find that cabins on our deck were ready early.
Our cruise cards were waiting for us in a little envelope outside the door, this isn’t uncommon on cruises.
A couple of years ago I took a cruise on the Costa Luminosa, a ship very similar to this one. I had an inside cabin on there too so I thought at this stage that I knew what to expect but our cabin definitely came with a few surprises.
I was looking forward to dropping off our bags and going to properly explore the ship, we weren’t planning on spending much time in our room and on the first day we were sailing away from New York City so we definitely wanted to see that one.
I Have a Fix to the ‘Waking up in The Dark’ Inside Cabin Problem
One of the worst things about inside cabins is waking up completely in the dark and I usually have a little daylight lamp that I use that simulates the sunrise. It’s just a cheap little light but it’s one of the best things I own and I usually remember to bring it on cruises.
The sunrise alarm clock I currently use can be found here: Sunrise Alarm Clock
My full review of the lamp is here.
This time I didn’t and I was absolutely gutted when I realised. Sometimes it takes not having a thing to realise how much you like the thing and I definitely won’t forget it again.
There were a few little features in the cabin that I was instantly impressed with and a couple that could have been improved, quite a few of the things could have been improved by just changing the colours in my opinion.
The Cabin Was Big For an Inside Cabin
The cabin that we were staying in was around 185 sq ft which is actually pretty big for an inside cabin. That makes it slightly bigger than the average shipping container that comes in at 150 sq ft.
Our first impressions of the cabin were that it was that it felt spacious and that there was a lot of storage space. The cabin reminded me a lot of my Costa cruise ship inside cabin and looking at photos of the Costa cabin I’ve realised just how alike they are, they even have the same lamps.
The colours are different, not really better, but just different.
I’ve never felt claustrophobic in an inside cabin, even one as colourful as this. To be honest I feel more claustrophobic when I can see the ocean outside, like if I’m in an oceanview cabin, rather than an inside cabin. When I’m in an inside cabin I just forget that I’m on a ship at all.
That is as long as we have decent weather; if you get caught in a storm or something it can be hard to forget that you’re on a ship.
I Have Experienced Seasickness in Inside Cabins (and Other Cabin Types!)
I took a cruise on the MSC Meraviglia years ago where I had an inside cabin, we hit a storm in the Mediterranean and I felt terribly seasick. I actually ended up sleeping on the floor which wasn’t much fun but that’s very much the exception, not the rule.
To learn more about how I prevent and treat seasickness, check out this post: 13 Actionable Tips to Prevent and Treat Seasickness on a Cruise
The Colours Are The Same in All Cabins
This crazy colourful design is pretty much the same across all of the cabin categories, if you book an inside cabin or a balcony, the cabins will look mostly the same. I have to say the colours in this cabin aren’t to my taste, but I’d much prefer a cabin that looked kind of crazy but was comfortable than one that looked great but was completely impractical.
Ideally, though, you could have both. The inside cabin I had on P&O’s Iona is probably my favourite. It was smaller than this one, but I liked the design and it was very comfortable.
Our luggage didn’t arrive until later in the day but, of course, I had a good look around the cabin, including in all of the drawers, when we entered the room. There was a lot of storage space and the usual things like a hairdryer, a safe and a fridge.
The Cabin Wasn’t Damaged or Broken, But Definitely Not New
It was easy to see that the ship wasn’t new, but nothing was badly damaged or broken. Some of the drawers did need a shove to close properly but overall my first impressions of the cabin were quite good.
When we unpacked we put our suitcases in the bottom of the wardrobes, there was space under the bed but I usually like to put my dirty clothes straight away into the suitcase so leaving it here made sense. We had lots of storage space to spare and far more hanging space than I’ve ever used on a cruise.
Which Plug Sockets Were There?
One of the biggest complaints I hear about cruise ship cabins is about the lack of plug sockets. I knew that this ship was from 2011 so I wasn’t expecting USB ports, which was good because we didn’t get any.
We did have one European and two US sockets though, which was enough for what I needed. I just wished I’d had my lamp to use up another one of the sockets!
If you’re ever in doubt about which sockets a ship will have, you can search this table on my website: Complete Cruise Ship Plug Socket Guide: Search by Ship
The cabin may have felt spacious because it was so empty. If you’re cruising with a British cruise line you’ll probably be used to having a kettle in the cabin but there’s nothing like that on Carnival cruises.
The TV is mounted on the wall so the area below was free too.
How Many People Fit in This Cabin?
It is possible to fit up to 4 people in an inside cabin like this one, and I have done it in the past. This cabin though was only able to hold 2 passengers and I know this because there weren’t any beds in the ceiling.
If a cabin is designed for 3 or 4 people, the extra people will either have bunk beds or be on a sofa bed. The bunk beds are usually pretty easy to spot, and we definitely didn’t have room for a sofa in here.
Sharing a cabin like this with 3 other people definitely isn’t easy and I’d only recommend it for a short amount of time, or if you are cruising with kids.
Staying in these bunk beds as a child is a lot of fun, but as an adult not so much. I have got a cruise next year booked where I’m staying in a bed like this.
The Bathroom Was Basic But Functional
Next on my to-explore list was the bathroom. The design was very similar to my Costa cabin but I actually preferred the colours in this one.
The bathroom was simple and functional and it was always clean.
The shower has a shower curtain instead of a shower screen but it’s definitely one of the better showers I’ve had with a curtain. The shower tray area was bigger than on some and the curtain had enough space to not stick to me. The water also didn’t go everywhere and the shower head was fairly high.
I think this bathroom was a case of don’t just a book by its cover, it might not look great but, practically, it worked better than a lot of the other cruise ship bathrooms I’ve had.
I’ve Had Smaller and Bigger Bathrooms
The smallest bathroom I’ve ever had on a cruise ship was on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady, and the biggest was probably on Sky Princess. A bath on a cruise ship is the absolute dream but it is pretty rare.
One downside of the bathroom was that the water in the sink was always slightly warm and it tasted horrible. It might not have tasted so bad if it was cold but either way, even I didn’t drink it and I’m not fussy when it comes to water.
Can You Drink Water From The Tap on a Cruise?
The water in the tap on cruise ships has to be safe to drink and usually it is fine. I had a soda package on this cruise which meant I had already paid for unlimited soda, so I just drank Pepsi instead of water which suited me fine.
To learn more about the tap water on cruises, check out this post: You Can Drink Tap Water on a Cruise – (Here’s Where and How)
Towels Can Be Changed Daily (I Don’t Recommend it)
On a cruise, you can have your towels changed every day but I usually don’t. I don’t wash my towels every day at home and, the way I see it, I only use the towel when I’m clean so I’m fine to reuse a towel a couple of times.
All Guests Have Access to The Entire Ship
Modern cruise ships don’t work like the traditional ocean liners where different classes get you access to different places on the ship. Some ships have special areas for suites but apart from that, if you book a standard balcony or a standard inside you still have access to the same ship.
We weren’t planning on spending much time in our cabin on this cruise, there was so much to see and do out and about on the ship.
We took this cruise in September and a hurricane was a couple of days behind our cruise. Luckily we really didn’t have much bad weather and we didn’t feel a lot of movement in our cabin despite being at the back of the ship. I usually find that the movement higher up is worse.
I’ve Experienced Seasickness in a Balcony Cabin Too
I took a cruise last Christmas where we had 3 storms, we couldn’t dock at one point and half of the people I cruised with got quite seasick. On that cruise, our cabin was up high and the difference in movement there compared to the lower down decks was really surprising.
We didn’t spend much time in our cabin on that cruise, even though we had a balcony, just because the movement was so much more up high.
Our Cabin Location Wasn’t The Best
We did have an issue with our cabin that many would think was a dealbreaker. Because our cabin’s location was so close to the piano bar and the nightclub, we could hear music in our cabin every night from around 10 or 11 pm onwards. I’m not sure when the music stopped because nothing stops me from sleeping so I did always fall asleep before it ended.
If somebody stayed in this cabin who was a light sleeper though, I imagine how it could be annoying. We could only really hear the bass of the music and only when it was silent in the cabin, but it was enough for me to play a game of ‘what is that song?’ as I was falling asleep.
If you are somebody who is a light sleeper, and you’re cruising on a cruise line where nightlife is likely like one of the big American cruise lines, it might be worth paying to pick your room. For me though, it was more just interesting than annoying.
Was it Worth it?
I paid $76 per night for this cabin (£68) which I thought was a great deal. That included gratuities and was based on two sharing, so we both paid $76 per night to stay here.
To find out what happened outside of the cabin, and whether Carnival lived up to its reputation of onboard fights and parties. Check out this video next:
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