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I Stayed in a Noisy Cabin With a Bizarre Layout

I recently stayed in a cabin with a layout I didn’t know existed onboard cruise ships.

Many people would say that this room has one of the worst locations on the ship, and we’ve had a couple of problems with this cabin, which I never expected, caused in part by the fact I was on an all-inclusive weekend cruise. 

Check out the ship on the Marella website here.

Normally when you look at balcony cabins on cruise ships they all look pretty similar, they might have the sofa in a different position or the balcony might be a different size but it’s normally a bathroom, a bed and a desk area. Our cabin wasn’t like that.

When I booked this cruise I decided to book what is called an “Aft Balcony Cabin” which means it’s right at the back of the cruise ship, looking to where you have just sailed.

My Aft Balcony cabin on Marella Explora 2

I’d never had one of these before and although I’d read reviews about these kinds of cabins being noisy and shaking when the ships docked, I really didn’t think much of it.

I’ve never had a real problem with noise on a cruise before and I was excited to see the views from the back of the ship.

My parents stayed in an Aft Balcony Cabin on Emerald Princess, and they loved the extra space it gave them. Find out all about that cabin here:

A different Aft Balcony cabin on Emerald Princess.

I took this cruise with a friend who last cruised way back in 2008 so I hoped that my choice of cabin wouldn’t cause us any issues. I really wanted this cruise to be good, not just for me but for my friend too. 

I booked cabin 8236 right in the middle of deck 8. This was the only aft cabin available at the time and I paid £59 to be able to pick this room.

I usually let the cruise line pick my cabin to save the cash, but I really wanted to test this one out – I love quirky cabins and the online reviews had got me interested. 

The mistake I made here was that I didn’t look above or below my cabin to see what was around it, if I did I probably would have chosen another cabin. 

Our cabin could hold 4 and there was a fixed double bed. The fixed double bed thing was a bit strange but I assumed there would be a sofa bed or a bed that came down from the ceiling since it said that the cabin slept 4 – you wouldn’t have 4 people expected to share one double fixed bed – that would be terrible. 

My first glimpse of the ship and where my cabin would be came at 8 pm as we boarded the ship in Palma, Majorca.

As soon as we got onboard we headed straight to our cabin to drop off our bags and to explore.

It was very easy to find our cabin because it was right at the back of the ship and in the middle so it didn’t even matter which side we went down.

My mum says that I could get lost trying to find my way out of a paper bag – so this easy-to-remember location was appreciated. 

I’m normally not very good at remembering my room number either, but the end part 236 was written on our cruise cards so I just had to remember deck 8 and even I can do that. 

Walking into the cabin I was surprised by the layout but very impressed with the amount of space. On the right-hand side as we came in was the bathroom and then there was one bed that was fixed against the wall.

It didn’t take us long to realise that my friend didn’t have a bed yet, but we figured we would find our cabin steward or go to reception to ask to have the second bed made up.

It was nearly 9 pm at this point but we weren’t going to go straight to bed, we were too excited to be onboard. 

The design of the cabin did look dated but that’s to be expected. The ship Marella Explorer 2 started life as the “Celebrity Century” for Celebrity cruises way back in 1995.

That makes her pretty old for a cruise ship. When the ship was built she only had a couple of balcony cabins and they added rows of balcony cabins later, which is amazing – I didn’t know they could do that. 

I recently stayed on another older ship, that is still part of the Celebrity Fleet – the Celebrity Infinity, built in 2001. Find out what I thought of her here:

Heading out on the balcony was very exciting, we had a table which is always a bonus and it was when I looked down that I noticed a deck area of deck sticking out below us.

This was actually a smoking area, and it’s located outside one of the most popular bars onboard.

I didn’t know at this point just how much this would affect our cruise but I knew that we were only onboard for 4 days, and that short cruises do tend to be more lively party cruises.

Marella includes alcoholic drinks as standard so I was expecting to hear noise at night – but I wasn’t really prepared for the reality of that.

I’ve had cabins above nightclubs before – but nothing quite as noisy as this cabin.

We quickly had a look around the bathroom which looked good, there was a shower door and a raised part so that the water didn’t go all over the floor and they provided shower gel.

There was no shampoo or conditioner as you might find on other cruise lines – which is a bit odd given that things like cocktails and beers are included – but hey, different priorities I guess!

The cabin had lots and lots of storage too, more than we could ever need for 4 nights, I unpacked onto a couple of shelves and hung up a few dresses, I put my suitcase under the bed and then I was done, easy peasy. 

I did of course bring a “Pac a Mac” because although we were cruising in Spain we were still travelling in April.

We saw plenty of rain on this trip so I’m glad I did. Your British-ism of the week is “Pac a Mac”- a rain mac, it means a lightweight rain jacket that folds up into a bag. It’s always good to have an emergency Pac a Mac when you’re in the UK. 

While I was unpacking my friend was connecting to Marella’s App on her phone, in there we found a section where we could report a problem with our cabin, this seemed much easier than going to the reception desk or phoning housekeeping, so we decided to log that we would like the other bed made up.

We headed off to get some dinner in the buffet and within half an hour the problem had been marked as resolved.

It was suspiciously fast I almost wondered if they had just closed the ticket to get rid of it – but when we went back to the cabin later in the evening the bed was made, that was all very very easy and a great sign.

What wasn’t great was just how hot our cabin was, it was like walking into a wall of heat that smacked us in the face every time we walked into the room.

It isn’t unusual for cabins of this age to have air conditioning problems so we decided to leave it for the night and to go to the reception desk in the morning to ask about getting it fixed.

Neither of us slept very well this first night to be honest, and I was really hoping that things would improve.

The music from below was very loud until gone midnight and our room was so stuffy and hot. It felt like a room where you’d go to do hot yoga or something like that, we just did hot sleeping.

We couldn’t open the door either because there were people down below in the smoking area who weren’t exactly being quiet – not that they should have been quiet – I didn’t expect them to be.

The point of this cruise was to have a good time and I thought that if we could get the air conditioning fixed, we would be more than happy to deal with the noise. 

When we woke up in the morning we were still sailing. We were due to get into our first port of Alicante at around midday. The sky was blue and being able to head out onto the balcony in the morning was amazing, the views really are fabulous from Aft cabins

We headed to the reception desk to mention that our air conditioning wasn’t working – and within an hour a lovely man showed up to fix it.

It took him a maximum of 5 minutes to sort out the problem, so it’s always worth letting the crew know if something is wrong.

Being in the industry that I’m in I do get sent a lot of comments with complaints about things and the number of people who will complain about something without ever trying to get it fixed is beyond me.

They’ll fix it for you if they can, it’s not like you have to climb up there with your screwdriver and work out what to do, you’ve just got to let them know.

I don’t know what magic the man did to the air conditioning but whatever he did was brilliant and we lived happily ever after in this cabin – well not exactly but we did live at a happy temperature for the rest of the cruise. 

It was around now that we really started to appreciate the benefits of this layout as friends.

If you were cruising with your partner it would be annoying for them having to climb over you every time they wanted to go to the bathroom – but for me and my friend, it felt like we almost had our own bedrooms.

She had her stuff in her half, I had my stuff in my half. Like any good British cruise ship, there was a kettle and there were bottles of water that were filled up for us all the time free of charge, there were water machines on all the decks too so it was easy to stay hydrated. 

The door in the middle didn’t slide anymore, it looked like it used to but had been stuck open. Even still, we both had enough space and storage that we never got in each other’s way.

I’ve been on some cruise ships in the past where even if you do have twin beds you are only 1 inch apart and can wake up with somebody’s face right opposite you – so this layout worked brilliantly for us. 

During the day the cabin was peaceful and quiet, we were hoping that they might not have music below us every evening – but they did.

Normally we would be out enjoying the entertainment anyway but it was really weird to be able to hear everything, we could hear the baseline of course – but also each word of karaoke. We could tell if somebody was good or bad – and most nights it went on until around 1 or 2 am. 

I can sleep through almost anything so it wasn’t a problem, but if you are somebody who needs quiet to sleep I’d always recommend picking a cabin that is sandwiched between two other cabin decks.

There’s no guarantee ever of course of a quiet location but you probably won’t be hearing Uptown Funk or Gangnam style at 1 am like we were! 

One of the biggest criticisms of Aft cabins is that they vibrate and shake when the ship sails away or docks and we did find that.

Sometimes I’d wake up, realise that we were docking – and go back to sleep for a few hours which was good. One day we didn’t sail away until late and when we did the ship started vibrating and juddering a lot.

That was actually good because it woke me up and I remembered to put my phone onto airplane mode so I didn’t get charged a lot for the Maritime Network.

I also leaned over and put my friends phone on airplane mode too, because I know what it’s like to get a big bill when you forget to do this. Not nice at all!

Find out more about using your mobile phone whilst cruising here:

Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Using Your Phone on a Cruise – (Beginners Guide)

The beds were very comfortable and mine even had a little shelf which was very helpful. I’d normally put a bottle of water up there – and luckily for me the ship never vibrated so much that it fell off and landed on me – that would have been terrifying, but it was all good.

The lamp here had a USB in it, and there were two plug sockets over on the desk. 

Because the only plug sockets were on the desk this did make the phone chargers a bit of a trip hazard that I did fall over more than once – but hey that one was on us. 

The beds also have light switches by them so you don’t have to get up to turn the lights off which was good.  

Every night we would find a bedtime chocolate on our pillows along with the next day’s schedule.

On Marella they actually clean the rooms twice a day, once in the morning and again at night to put it into “bedtime mode.”

We did get a couple of towel animals which was nice and the crew were so friendly and lovely. My friend said to me when we walked down the corridor ‘The people on here are so nice, make sure you tell everybody on the internet that’ so here I am – passing along that message. 

I paid around £200 per night for this cabin, not just for this cabin – but also for all of my food, my drinks, my flights and my transfers.

It wasn’t a budget cruise by any stretch but considering all that was included I don’t think that was a terrible price. (For that price it might have been nice to have had some shampoo included but hey – it was worth the price to see blue skies again if nothing else…)

Check out the ship on the Marella website here.

The ship definitely felt her age, but we didn’t have any big issues apart from the noise and vibrations.

I have had problems caused by the ship’s age in the past though, a little while ago I too a cruise on an old ship which was actually cancelled while we were at dinner, we all had to get off and go home.

To find out why, check out this video next. 

Before You Go

Find out what it is really like to stay in the cheapest cabins on a cruise ship here:

What It’s Really Like to Stay in The Cheapest Cabins on Cruise Ships (5 Examples)

Avoid some of the silly mistakes I’ve made on cruises by reading this article next:

8 Annoying Mistakes I’ve Made on Cruises (Some Expensive and Some Just Frustrating)

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