The average inside cabin on a cruise ship is around half the size of the average hotel room in the US.
When I cruised on Carnival Magic in 2022, I booked the smallest and cheapest cabin on the entire ship.
I booked a “guaranteed” inside cabin, as I was interested to see what I would actually get for my money.
Choosing a guaranteed cabin 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.
Carnival Magic has 1845 cabins and, at full capacity, can hold a little over 4500 guests.
Carnival has a reputation for fun/party ships- but they have also been in the news recently with reports of “booze cruises” with fights breaking out onboard. I hoped I wouldn’t see anything like that!
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 of the ship.
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.
Which 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 were picking a deck.
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.
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 at night, and as I was laying in bed all I could hear were the faint Christmas carols.
It was quite relaxing, a little creepy – but very festive!
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 that didn’t have any windows once. It wasn’t great, but it was the night before an early flight so 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 Ecstasy, 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.
It is sensible for cruise lines to design ships with as many higher-priced balcony cabins as possible.
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 p.m., but we did find that cabins on our deck were ready earlier than that.
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.
Costa Luminosa has since become Carnival Luminosa – the ships are owned by the same Carnival parent company.
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 we would soon be sailing away from New York City. I definitely didn’t want to miss that sailaway!
I Have a Fix to the “Waking up in The Dark” Inside Cabin Problem
One of the worst things about having an inside cabin is waking up completely in the dark and not knowing whether it is day or night.
I usually pack a little daylight lamp that I use that simulates the sunrise.
A sunrise alarm clock is just a cheap and light little clock – but it’s one of the best things I own. Set the time you would like to wake and It slowly brightens to wake you up gently.
My sunrise alarm clock also gives you the option of having the sound of birds tweeting – or various other sounds too!
The sunrise alarm clock I currently use can be found here:
Find my full review of the lamp here.
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 Luminosa inside cabin.
Looking back at my photos of my Costa cabin, I’ve realised just how alike they are – they even have the same lamps.
There were a few little features in the cabin that I was instantly impressed with – and a couple that could have been improved.
A lot could have been improved by just changing the colours in my opinion. Costa Luminosa’s cabins were very bright and garish – Carnival Magic’s were toned down slightly.
Costa Luminosa has had a refit since I travelled on her and now sails as Carnival Luminosa. Her bright colours have also been toned down. Her original interiors were obviously designed with an Italian cruise passenger in mind.
I took a cruise on Costa’s Mega ship, Costa Smeralda recently. Bright colours were everywhere, and the corridors on every deck were painted a different colour. Find out more about that ship below:
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 actually see the ocean outside – like if I have an oceanview cabin. When I’m in an inside cabin, I forget that I’m on a ship at all!
As long as you don’t get caught in a storm or bad weather, it can be easy 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. I have taken over 50 cruises, and have only felt ill on a handful of occasions.
To learn more about how I prevent and treat seasickness, check out this post:
The Colours Are The Same in All Cabins
This crazy colourful design is pretty much the same across all of the cabin categories on Carnival Magic. If you book an inside cabin or a balcony, the cabins will look very similar.
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.
Find out about Iona’s more modern inside cabins here:
Our luggage didn’t arrive until later in the day.
I had a good look around the cabin, including in all of the drawers, when we got to our 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 later unpacked, we put our suitcases at 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.
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 have cruised 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 into some inside cabins 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 that could be pulled down from the ceiling.
If a cabin is designed for 3 or 4 people, the extra people will either have extra “Pullman beds” that pull down from the ceiling or be on a sofa bed.
Pullman 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 Pullman beds as a child is a lot of fun – but as an adult – not so much!
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 shower has a shower curtain instead of a shower screen, but it was 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 judge a book by its cover.” It might not look great but, practically, it worked better than a lot of the other newer 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 Azamara Onward. The biggest was probably on Sky Princess, where I had a suite with a bath.
Find out more about that tiny “luxury” cruise line cabin and bathroom here:
A bath on a cruise ship is the absolute dream – but it is pretty rare. Normally they are only found in some suite cabins, and I don’t book suites!
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.
Recently I have started packing small, concentrated bottles of squash to add to the tap water in cruise ship cabins. It makes it taste much better!
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:
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 it a couple of times.
If I want the towel changed I place it on the floor of the shower area, and the cabin steward will replace it with a new one.
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 suite guests, but apart from that, if you book a standard balcony or a standard inside you still have access to the same ship.
Find out more about the class system that used to apply on ships here:
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 ship.
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 on the ship is worse than the movement at the back.
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 was travelling with got quite seasick.
On that cruise, our cabin was up high and the difference in movement there compared to lower down in the central Atrium 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 On Carnival Magic 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 p.m. 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 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.
For me though, it was more “interesting” than “annoying.”
If you are somebody who is a light sleeper, and you’re cruising on a line where nightlife is likely to be loud (like on one of the big American cruise lines) it might be worth paying to pick your room.
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:
Before You Go!
I have stayed in some very interesting – and sometimes controversial – cruise ship cabins. I recently took a trip onboard P&O’s Iona, where my cabin balcony looked out onto the Promenade deck. People were walking past my balcony all the time! To find out more, read this article next:
On Celebrity Edge, they don’t have traditional balcony cabins. They have “Infinite Verandas.” These have no actual outside space. Find out more about these unusual cabins here:
Balcony cabins on Costa Smeralda had one very interesting feature! To find out what that was, read this article next: