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The Truth About Obstructed View Cabins – (Photo Examples & How to Find One)

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 most cruise ships, 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?

As the name suggests, an obstructed view cabin is a cabin where an item is obstructing the view from either the window or the balcony.

Obstructions can vary from a very slight obstruction down in one corner – to a lifeboat hanging in front of your cabin, obscuring the view completely!

Common obstructions include lifeboats, machinery, and pieces of other decks.

A lot of people run and hide when they hear the phrase “Obstructed View.” 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.

Obstructed view balcony cabin
My Obstructed View Balcony Cabin on Spectrum of the Seas

When I recently sailed from Singapore to Tokyo onboard the Spectrum of the Seas, I chose an obstructed view balcony cabin.

This was because I wanted to be able to see the wonderful views and the interesting ports from my cabin – but the trip was so expensive, I was looking to save some money if possible.

This obstructed-view balcony cabin seemed the perfect compromise. I still had the views – but at a reduced price. (I did have to stand up to see the views though – but that isn’t a problem for me.)

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 have otherwise.

If you’re somebody who’s used to cruising staying in inside cabins, having an obstructed view ocean view or a balcony can be a real treat.

If The Obstruction Is A Lifeboat, You May Have Days When It Isn’t There!

When I took my latest Asia cruise, the lifeboat outside my room was taken down and used as a Tender Boat when we visited some ports.

On those days, I had a much better view, only the davits (Lifeboat brackets) were left in view.

Obstructed balcony cabin - lifeboat gone

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
  • A Deck below or above

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.”

Many thanks to Xavier for the pictures above of his obstructed view cabin. He sailed with NCL and was upgraded from an inside cabin to an obstructed ocean view.

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

There are obstructed view cabins on most cruise ships and cruise lines tend to be very careful when it comes to selling obstructed views.

The Cruise Line would rather sell a cabin as an “obstructed view” than sell it as a standard cabin and risk the passenger making a complaint about the lack of a view.

They don’t want to have to deal with that problem!

Cruise lines definitely err on the side of caution, and they call lots of things “obstructed” when really I don’t think they are.

There are some cabins onboard P&O’s newest ships Iona and Arvia are separated from the ocean by a promenade deck.

These aren’t classed as “Obstructed View” and are charged at full price. There could be hot tubs, sunbeds – and lots and lots of people between you and your view of the ocean!

Find out what I liked, and what I didn’t like about that cabin in the video below:

What Type of Obstructed View Cabins Are 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 when you wake up, it’s pitch black. You don’t know if it’s 3:00 AM or 3:00 PM – whether the sun is shining or if it’s pouring with rain!

If you’re able to get an obstructed ocean view, you at least have some daylight.

Even if you have a full lifeboat that covers the entire window, you won’t have to worry about waking up in the dark.

If the cabin is at the same price as an inside cabin – or even a little bit more, I would definitely pay extra just for the daylight.

If you do have an inside cabin, my favourite cabin hack is to pack a Sunrise Alarm Clock.

Unlike a conventional alarm clock, a sunrise clock slowly wakes you by lighting up the room gently. You can have optional sounds – like birds tweeting – it’s a far more relaxing way to wake up.

Find out more about Sunrise Alarm Clocks here:

Sunrise Alarm Clocks – The BEST Inside Cabin Hack

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.

View from Obstructed View Balcony Cabin
Wonderful Views from an Obstructed View Balcony Cabin on my Asia Cruise

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 at all.

The problem with the cabin below is that guests are able to walk in 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

Some obstructed-view cabins really are obstructed – such as the one above. In this situation, the cabin window is being used just to get some daylight, you can’t see any outside view at all.

Obstructed View Cabins Often Have Good Locations

Another benefit above and beyond just the cost-saving aspect of getting an obstructed view cabin, the obstructed view cabins often have good locations.

Many are right behind the lifeboats, so a lot of them are right in the middle of the ship.

Some people care more about the location than they do the view from the balcony.

If you’re somebody who likes to be in the middle of the ship for seasickness reasons, 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.

To find out all about the best position to be on a ship to avoid seasickness, read this article next:

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

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, let them know that you are open to obstructed-view cabins.

Then they can have a look at the deck plans and you can chat about how obstructed you would like the cabin to be.

That is exactly what I did when I booked my Obstructed Balcony cabin. To find out what I thought of the cabin I was assigned below:

If you’re somebody who really is into researching your cruises, look 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 travel 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 cruisers.

A friend of mine saved almost $1,000 by switching from a regular balcony to an obstructed view balcony. Her balcony wasn’t one of those 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?

No. It’s important to note that the only way that you’re going to get an obstructed view cabin, is if you book one.

The cruise line can’t assign you an obstructed view cabin if you booked a regular cabin.

Unless you’ve specifically said you would be happy with an obstructed-view cabin, you’re not going to get assigned one.

Before You Go

Find out other ways of getting the best cabin for your budget here:

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

Find out whether it is best to book directly with the cruise line, or through a travel agent below:

Is It Best To Use a Travel Agent or Book Directly With The Cruise Line? (Money-Saving Hints and Tips For Booking, and Much More…)

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