The Truth About Obstructed View Cabins – How Obstructed Are They?


If you’re considering booking a cruise, you might be looking for a way to reduce the cost of your cabin without reducing the cabin category grade.

On every cruise ship, there are some cabins that you can book for a reduced price, but the cruise lines rarely advertise them. These are called obstructed view cabins.

What is an Obstructed View Cabin?

An obstructed view cabin is a cabin where an item is obstructing the view from either the window or the balcony of the cabin. Obstructions can vary from very slight, to a complete obstruction. Common obstructions include lifeboats, machinery, and pieces of other decks.

A lot of people run and they hide when they hear the phrase obstructed view and if you’re one of those people, I don’t blame you, but it can be a brilliant way to save a lot of money and is well worth considering

I like to think of obstructed view cabins as the seats that I always buy in the theater, where you’ve got a bit of a pole in the way, maybe a bar in the bottom third, that’s pretty much what an obstructed view cabin is.

msc obstructed view cabins example

What Are The Benefits of Booking an Obstructed View Cabin?

Obstructed view cabins can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars cheaper than similar cabins without an obstruction. Obstructed view cabins often have good locations and booking an obstructed view cabin means that you could possibly afford a cabin grade that you wouldn’t be able to book otherwise.

If you’re somebody who’s used to cruising in inside cabins, I know I am, having an obstructed view ocean view or a balcony is a real treat.

There is not a lot that I love more than going on a cruise, meeting new friends, and realizing that I paid considerably less than everybody else for the exact same cruise.

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What Could be Obstructing an Obstructed View Cabin?

Common obstructions for obstructed view cabins include lifeboats, machinery, other decks, and even on occasion, things such as crew walkways or whirlpools. The obstruction may not be directly in front of the window or balcony.

  • Lifeboats
  • Machinery
  • Walkways
  • Promenade Deck/Walkway
  • Whirlpools/Waterslides
  • Deck below/above

Technically having something small such as a crew walkway between the window and the edge of the ship is enough of an obstruction that that cabin usually will not be sold at full price and will be marked as obstructed.

Why do Cruise Lines Sell Cabins That Aren’t Very Obstructed as ‘Obstructed View’?

There are obstructed view cabins on every cruise ship and cruise lines tend to be very careful when it comes to obstructed views, they would much prefer to sell a cabin as an obstructed view, and the passenger is pleasantly surprised, than they sell it as a standard cabin and the passenger complains.

They don’t want to have to deal with that.

Cruise lines definitely err on the side of caution, and they call it for a lot of things obstructed, when really I don’t think they are.

What Type of Obstructed View Cabins Available?

Obstructed Ocean Views

When it comes to obstructed cabins, the cheapest cabin you can get is an obstructed ocean view, and these are usually the same price as an inside cabin.

If you’re used to cruising in an inside cabin, you’ll know that one of the weirdest things is waking up, it’s pitch black. You don’t know if it’s 3:00 AM or 3:00 PM.

If you’re able to get an obstructed ocean view, you at least have light. Even if you have a full lifeboat that covers the entire window, you don’t have to worry about waking up in the dark. If it’s the same price as an inside cabin or even a little bit more, I would definitely pay just for the daylight.

A friend of mine, Vinny, actually managed to get an ocean view cabin, an obstructed view ocean view cabin, for cheaper than he would have paid for an inside cabin. So in that situation, it’s a no-brainer at least to me to get that obstructed view, because you weren’t going to have a view anyway.

Obstructed Balcony

Obstructed balcony cabins are a great option for people who usually stay in inside cabins or ocean view cabins.

Even if your balcony is completely obstructed, being able to get some fresh air/daylight is really nice. I personally wouldn’t pay much more than an ocean view price for an obstructed view balcony but it can be worth it in some circumstances.

Obstructed View Cabin Examples

The amount of obstruction within an ocean view or a balcony cabin can vary dramatically.

If you have a look here at the MSC Preziosa, you can see this deck where the windows are behind the lifeboats. The windows on the top-level look out over the lifeboats but are still considered obstructed, because compared to standard ocean views, the view is limited.

obstructed view oceanview cabin example msc preziosa

The below cabin is an example of an obstructed view oceanview, where the view really isn’t very obstructed.

The problem with the cabin below, is that guests are able to walk on this area, so may be able to see into your cabin. That said, if a cabin like this is available for the price of an inside cabin, I think you’d be mad not to take it.

obstructed view oceanview cabin example
obstructed view oceanview cabin example

On the other hand, some obstructed view cabins really are obstructed such as the one above. In this situation, the cabin window is being used for the daylight.

Obstructed View Cabins Often Have Good Locations

Another benefit above and beyond just the cost saving of getting an obstructed view cabin, the obstructed view cabins often have the best locations because they’re right behind the lifeboats, a lot of them they’re right in the middle of the ship.

Some people do care more about the location than they do the view from the balcony. So if you’re somebody like that, getting an obstructed view in the middle can be a really good way to get that location that you want, but without paying the premium price.

How do You Find an Obstructed View Cabin?

It can be tricky to find the right obstructed view cabin. The more research you do into the cabins, the better experience you’re going to have.

If you’re booking through an agent, you’re definitely going to want to work with them, and let them know that you are open to obstructed view cabins. Then they can have a look and you can chat about how obstructed you would like to go.

If you’re somebody who really is into researching your cruises, looking at deck plans. You can find out how obstructed each cabin is and find out which ones you’d be happy with. If you’re booking directly through the cruise line or through some agents, you can see deck plans where you can see which cabins are obstructed view.

how to find obstructed view cabins on a cruise
obstructed view cabin deck plan example

Once you have a cabin in mind, it’s usually a good idea to do a quick web search of the cabin. For a lot of cabins, you’ll find photos from other cruiers.

A friend of mine saved almost $1,000 by switching from a regular balcony, to an obstructed balcony. Her balcony wasn’t one of these where you couldn’t see anything, there was just a deck that stuck out BELOW her cabin!

Can a Cruise Line Assign You an Obstructed View Cabin Without You Booking One?

It’s important to note that the only way that you’re going to get an obstructed view cabin, is if you book an obstructed view cabin, the cruise line can’t assign you an obstructed view if you booked a regular cabin.

Unless you’ve specifically said, you are happy with an obstructed view, you’re not going to get one.

To conclude:

Obstructed view cabins are a great way to save money when cruising. The level of obstruction varies greatly, so the more research you can do, the better chance you have of finding a cabin that suits your budget and you.

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Emma Le Teace

Hey, I'm Emma, an award-winning cruise blogger, and YouTuber. I share cruise tips, tours, and videos on this website to help you master cruising on a budget. You can learn more here: About Me.

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