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Get The Best Cabin for Your Budget! Hints, Tips and Examples of How to Save Money Without Downgrading Your Cabin Type

Types Of Cabin Available

In this article we look at the main types of cabins available, and ways to save money without necessarily downgrading your cabin type.

I am a big fan of booking the cheapest inside cabin but there are ways you can sail in an ocean view or balcony cabin and still get a really good deal.

Inside Cabins

  • Inside cabins have no windows, they are normally lower down and are almost always the cheapest cabins available.
    • I have shared an inside cabin with three other people, but I wouldn’t recommend that for a longer sailing, they are pretty small.
  • If there are two or three of you, it is perfectly fine to be in an inside cabin! Don’t let anyone make you feel like you have got to have a balcony cabin to enjoy a cruise!
  • The cheaper the cabin, and the fewer things you have in there, means you spend more time out and about enjoying the ship.
    • You have paid for the entire ship, I don’t really understand people who spend all their time in their cabin, there are so many things out there to see and do!

Inside cabins suit me fine. Sometimes they can be half the price of sailing in a balcony cabin! I would much prefer to sail for two weeks in an inside cabin, than one week with a balcony.

p&o iona daylight alarm clock
When in an inside cabin, I always pack my sunrise alarm clock.

One thing I recommend is a daylight alarm clock. It simulates the sunrise.

One of the worst things about an inside cabin is when you wake up, it is pitch black, there are no windows and you don’t know if it is daytime or night time!

A sunrise lamp wakes me up gently in the morning without stinging my eyes.

Find out more about these wonderful alarm clocks here:

​Sunrise Alarm Clocks​

Ocean View Cabins

Ocean View Cabins are very similar to an inside cabin in size. Many are identical – some are slightly larger.

The things you will find inside an oceanview are the same as in an inside cabin, They all have:

  • Two beds – a double, or two singles.
  • a desk
  • a private bathroom
  • a wardrobe or closet
  • TV
  • On a British cruise line, you will also find a kettle with tea and coffee-making facilities.

You don’t get more facilities if you move up a cabin grade from an Inside to an Ocean-view

  • You will get a window – either a porthole/circle window or a bigger picture window. The cabin is very similar to the inside cabin, but you just get the daylight.
  • You can’t always see much out of the window because of the water spray and the salt on the window. At least you know what the weather is going to be like before you go outside!
MSC Meraviglia Outside Oceanview Cabin
Ocean View Cabin on MSC Meraviglia – Image MSC cruises

Balcony Cabins

  • These are the most popular types of cabins. New cruise ships are built with the majority of cabins being balcony cabins.
    • That wasn’t always the case, go back 20 years and almost all cabins were ocean view or inside, but people do like their balcony cabins.
  • When you think about a cruise, you will probably think of a balcony cabin. They are normally a bit bigger than an inside cabin, and you have your own tiny outside space with a couple of chairs where you can sit and enjoy the view and get some fresh air.
    • They are nice, so if you can afford it, go for a balcony cabin – but don’t think you have to!
norwegian prima balcony cabin
My Norwegian Prima balcony cabin


If you have a bigger budget, suites come in a massive range of sizes, from those similar to a standard balcony cabin up to multi-level suites with slides between the two levels – pianos, butlers, and huge balconies! They do have a premium cost though.

  • If you are booking multiple cabins – multiple balconies or inside cabins, check the price of the suite that holds five or six people.
    • If you can join together and split the cost you may end up with an amazing suite for the same price or less than booking individual cabins.

Obstructed View Cabins

One of my favourite ways to save money without downgrading the category is to book an “Obstructed view cabin.”

  • Do your research, some cabins are hardly obstructed at all – whilst others have a huge lifeboat hanging outside so you can’t see anything!
  • The cabin price can be massively reduced, but you do need to do research and that is where a good agent can come in.
    • They can look at the deck plans for you and explain the obstruction.
    • Tell them you are not averse to obstructed views when you are looking to book.
    • The obstruction might be below or way off to the side. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it is right in your way and you will never see anything at all!

To look at my post with more details about obstructed view cabins, click below:

​The truth about obstructed view cabins​

A few questions to ask yourself before choosing a cabin:

  • How important is natural light to you? Do you need Fresh air?
    • If it doesn’t matter go for an inside cabin, You can spend that money on speciality dining, drinks, excursions – anything!
  • Budget. How much do you want to spend?
    • If budget is the main factor, go for an inside cabin. You’ll still have a great cruise!
  • How many guests are you sharing with?
    • If you have children and are in an inside cabin, they will probably be on beds that pull down from the ceiling or on sofa beds. It’s ok for a short cruise, but you might find it cramped for a longer trip.
  • Do you want a specific location on the ship?
    • For example, do you want to be close to the Kids Club, and close to the pool? You might find that there are only balcony cabins by the pool and the kids club and that will affect your decision.
  • Do you get Seasick?
    • If you are worried about seasickness, then choose a mid-ship cabin on a lower deck.
emma cruises red dress balcony cabin
Do you need to have your own outside space and access to fresh air?

We do talk more in another article about seasickness. I do suffer from seasickness sometimes, but I don’t go on a cruise thinking I am going to get seasick!

Find the article on seasickness here:

What is The Best Cabin Location on a Cruise For Avoiding Seasickness? (I’ve Tried Them All!)

I don’t take my own advice on choosing a cabin location. Price is the most important thing to me, so I tend to book a “Guaranteed Cabin” and don’t choose my own cabin location.

Guaranteed Cabins

I often save money by booking a “guaranteed cabin.” I don’t get to choose the location, the cruise line chooses it for me. You normally get to find out where your cabin is a couple of weeks before the cruise.

It can be £80 / $100 cheaper per person than choosing the cabin location yourself. If you have three people sharing, that is £240 / $300 saving for just not picking your own cabin location!

I don’t mind the location of my cabin, I am quite happy if it is a long walk to the buffet. The walk will do me good! I can think of lots of other things that I can spend that money on.

Watch the video below to find out all about the guaranteed cabin I was assigned on P&O’s Iona.

Increase your chance of getting an upgrade

There is no guaranteed way of getting an upgrade – other than paying extra for that upgrade! Otherwise, everyone would be doing it! There are ways of increasing your chances though.

  • Book a Guaranteed cabin.
    • You might be bumped up to an ocean view or a balcony instead.
  • Bid on an upgrade.
    • The Cruise line might give you the opportunity to “bid” on an upgrade. If you are successful, it will cost less than a normal upgrade.
    • You have nothing to lose by putting in a little upgrade bid. Some people are quite successful with this, but I find it quite hard work. I am never willing to bid as much as others, so am rarely successful!
  • Cruise line loyalty status.
    • I am not loyal to any cruise line, although I have the highest loyalty status with Norwegian and MSC.
    • Some say that if you have a loyalty status with the cruise line, you are more likely to get upgraded. Whether that is true in practice, it’s hard to say.
    • I would say try getting a cheaper deal with another cruise line or different ship rather than staying loyal to one.
  • Ring the Cruise Line before the sailing date
    • They may charge you the going rate, or they might offer you a reduced rate. Sometimes this process links into the “bidding for an upgrade” I do know people who have phoned up just before the cruise and have been able to upgrade for a fraction of the price. Be polite though, and If they say no, accept it!
  • If you live in the USA, monitor for price drops on your cruise!
    • A good agent will be monitoring prices for you, but check regularly to see if there are any big price drops, if so, contact the cruise line or your agent. Sadly this only applies to the USA, otherwise, I would be doing it on every cruise! If the price has gone down, they may give you an upgrade or onboard credit.
  • Ask onboard after the first port for an upgrade
    • On embarkation day everyone wants an upgrade! By day two, they know how many people are on the ship for sure, and you might get a cheaper upgrade.
    • You will have to move and repack, so I am not sure I would bother – unless it was for a cabin that was really special!

Solo Cabins

  • I do have a full article about solo cruising on my website. Normally one person cruising alone will pay the same price as two people, but solo cabins are designed specifically for just one passenger.
  • Solo cabins can be pricey, but not as pricey as having to pay for double occupancy!
  • Norwegian has many solo cabins with solo lounges for single travellers to meet up. Most cruise lines have some “normal” cabins that are set aside for solo cruises.
Solo cabin on Marella 90's cruise
I had a cabin set aside for solo cruises on a Marella 90’s themed cruise

Find out which cruise lines cater best for solo cruisers below:

Best Cruise Lines For Solo Cruisers (Tried & Tested, Pros & Cons!)

I hope that this has given you an idea of where you and your family will fit in on a cruise. Please don’t be put off by the inside cabins or ocean-view cabins…

Book an inside cabin or ocean view – and work your way up to a balcony! If your first cruise is in a balcony cabin you might never want to go down to a lower grade! Try it once!

Before You Go!

To find out more about saving money by booking “guaranteed” cabins, read my full guide below:

I Always Book Guaranteed Cabins on Cruise Ships – (Photo Examples, Regrets & More)

Find practical hints and tips on avoiding seasickness when you cruise in the article below:

13 Actionable Tips to Prevent and Treat Seasickness on a Cruise

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.