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

Inside cabins are often the smallest, cheapest cabins found on ships. From the cheapest to the most expensive – I stay in them all. 

costa smeralda inside cabin bed
Modern Guaranteed Inside cabin – Costa Smeralda

I will start with an inside cabin from one of the biggest cruise lines in the world, Carnival Cruise Line. 

Carnival Magic Inside Cabin – $76 Per Night

I’d read a lot of bad reviews about the inside cabins on the Carnival Magic, but when I saw a cruise for just $76 per night I knew that I had to give it a go.

To keep it as cheap as possible I didn’t pick the location of my room and that meant I could be given a cabin anywhere on the ship – probably one of the cabins that nobody else picked as it wasin a “bad” location.

I was given cabin 7432 right at the back of deck 7 above a Nightclub and Piano Bar. I hoped that that wouldn’t cause me any problems as the cruise went on. Cruise ship cabins aren’t exactly known for being soundproof – you can hear everything going on around you.

Find out more about noise you might hear in your cruise ship cabin below:

Are Cruise Ship Cabins Soundproof? (Thin Walls, Balconies and Travelling Sound)

Walking into the room I was instantly struck by how funky it looked, I think “funky” is the right word, -there was a lot of orange wood around, the floor was bright and even the bed had a skirt/Valance

carnival magic inside cabin review
Carnival Magic inside cabin

The patterns on the desktops reminded me of spaghetti hoops – and I have no idea what the art was on the walls but it was on both sides – the same painting twice.

Carnival clearly liked that particular painting – so they ordered thousands and thousands and thousands of copies of it and put them around the ship.

Inside cabins are usually around half the size of hotel rooms in the US and they can hold up to four people.

Usually, the additional beds pull down from the ceiling – I have done that in the past, but I was happy that there were just two of us sharing this room.

Marella Discovery Tui Inside Cabin Stateroom 3 4 adults pullman beds
A Four berth inside cabin on Marella Discovery – Quite a squeeze for four people

Find out more about the sizes of cabins compared to hotel rooms on land here:

How Do Cruise Ship Cabins Compare to Hotel Rooms?

Every night we did end up playing a game of “What is that song?” as we lay in bed listening to the faraway music. It didn’t keep me awake, but definitely would have disturbed some people. 

In the bathroom I found the thinnest toilet paper in the world, it really was impressive how they could make it so thin – but apart from that it was perfectly fine.

There was a shower curtain which was a little bit annoying, but the shower was good and the bathroom was “in keeping” with the rest of the design – let us say. The floor was a dark blue and the rest of the room was white and green. 

Find out more about that Carnival Magic cabin here:

This ship was actually built in 2008 – so you would expect the design to be a bit dated – but that wasn’t the case in the next inside cabin I stayed – built in back in 2000.

Norwegian Sun Inside Cabin – $126 Per Night

Looking at the website at the Norwegian Sun the cabins definitely looked old.

Coming in at $126 per person per night I decided to book 8 days onboard – I figured the cabins must have had a lot of refits since the ship’s launch.

norwegian sun

I was given cabin 7314 right at the front of deck 7, and the cabin was between an art gallery and a kids club.

It wasn’t a location I would have picked but I did see that we were very close to a bar so I thought that part would be good – even if we might have kids running up and down the corridor. 

Walking into the cabin I was very impressed with the design, it didn’t feel dated at all and we even had a sofa which is a treat for an inside cabin.

It was obvious that the cabin had been updated since the ship’s launch, because we had USBs in the lamps and there was a modern TV. Originally these cabins had bright green floors and it’s much more subtle in design now. 

There were a few old signs of the ship’s age around – like the very old hair dryer – but overall it felt spacious and there was lots and lots of storage.

In reality, a cruise ship cabin is only about 9 ft wide – which is similar to the width of a bus and is pretty similar to a shipping container. It’s strange to think about it like that – living in a shipping container for a week! 

I saw that the lifejackets in the cabin and I decided not to test the whistle – you might think that’s obvious but I’ve seen so many people put these in their mouths, who knows when that part is cleaned, if ever – so don’t do that. 

The bathroom was a pretty decent size, and it was a strange curved shape. It felt like being in a spaceship or a plane and it wasn’t the smallest bathroom on a ship I’ve had by a long shot.

Watch the video below to see what you would think of that brightly coloured bathroom:

Interestingly the worst inside cabin I’ve had was the most expensive, but more about that later. 

Because of the position of the air conditioning in this cabin, it did feel like I was sleeping in a draft. In the middle of the night I’d wake up and feel the cold air hitting me in the face.

I’d much prefer that over one where the air conditioning doesn’t work though – like the next cabin that I stayed in.

Azamara Onward Inside Cabin – $132 Per Night

On a mainstream cruise line it’s pretty typical to find that a third or more of the cabins are inside cabins.

This can mean thousands and thousands of inside cabins on the big ships – but onboard the Azamara Onward there were only 23 inside cabins on the entire ship.

Azamara are a luxury cruise line so when I saw a deal come up for $132 per person per night, I thought this was my chance to try them.

I didn’t pick my cabin location, again to save some money. I knew that it could only be on decks 4 6 7 or 8 and most of the inside cabins were towards the middle of the ship.

We were given cabin 7069 off an internal corridor which, meant that nobody else came down there – which would be important later. 

When we entered the cabin I was very impressed with the design, it looked luxurious and although the ship is advertised as Azamara’s “new” ship, she was actually built in 1999.

Azamara Onward Cabin
Azamara Onward Inside cabin

It isn’t uncommon for cruise lines to sell their ships, the trend really is to build bigger and bigger ships so the small ones get passed down, often to smaller cruise lines.

There were lots of mirrors and a nice sofa, there was also a minibar included.

Sadly the nice sofa meant that we lost the space from the bathroom and the bathroom was the smallest I’ve ever had on a cruise ship.

The shower was really tiny and I just about fitted in it – for anybody taller or wider than me it would be a real struggle. This does explain all the reviews I saw that said that it was ‘unusable’. 

You might think that a luxury cruise line like this might want to change the bathrooms, but the way that cruise ship cabins are made completely formed and slid into the side of a cruise ship means that they can’t.

They do sometimes cut cruise ships in half and add new sections to the middle – but they can’t just make the bathrooms bigger. 

Watch the completed cabins being slid into the side of a new cruise ship below:

The carpet in the rooms shown on the website looked like somebody had dragged mud or something worse through the room – but in reality, it was much nicer.

That was good because I did spend a lot of time down on the floor with the door propped open so I could get the 4G when in port. I didn’t pay for WiFi – again to keep the cost down. 

The door was actually quite musical and it would whistle really loudly. It turned out that it was a problem with our air conditioning – basically putting us in the middle of a vortex of air. They came late at night and turned off the air conditioner so we could sleep. 

It was difficult to explain – so I recorded the sound to play at reception when I went to report the problem.

Find out more about the Azamara “luxury” inside cabin I stayed in here:

Despite the small bathroom and air conditioning problems I was very happy with the price we paid for such a luxurious cruise line. 

Many drinks were included within the cruise fare, so that was an added bonus.

The cabin was very comfortable and in the past, I have paid more for an inside cabin on more mainstream cruise lines – as I did in my inside cabin on the Queen Mary.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 Inside Cabin – $152 Per Night

Coming in at $152 per person per night my stay on the Cunard ship was more expensive than I’d have liked – but the Queen Mary 2 is the last Ocean Liner in the world, and I knew that I had to get onboard to see what the differences were.

We were assigned cabin 6198. We actually found a giant black bra in one of my family’s cabins -It had clearly fallen down the back of one of the drawers, but I just put it in the bin -I didn’t think I’d have much hope of reuniting it with its owner. 

The cabin felt spacious and there was a lot of storage.

Usually I’d say that doesn’t matter too much in an inside cabin – especially if there are just two people sharing the space – but we were cruising with Cunard who are the most formal cruise line.

I had to bring a lot of dresses as Cunard is a very formal cruise line. The extra wardrobe space was very much appreciated!

Find out more about my cabin on Queen Mary 2 below:

Find out all about the differences between Cruise ships and Ocean Liners here:

Cruise Ships vs Ocean Liners – Measurable Differences You Need to Know

There were a few British touches- like the UK plug sockets and the kettle. It’s very rare to find UK sockets on cruise ships, usually it’s just US and European so I bring a universal adapter.

You can find that one on this link:

EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter
$25.99 $19.99

International Power Plug Adapter with 3 USB-C and 2 USB-A Ports, All-in-One Worldwide Wall Charger for USA EU UK AUS

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/23/2024 11:01 am GMT

On this cruise, I travelled with friends and family who had balcony cabins, so I had a direct comparison.

The balcony upgrade was only an extra $120 per person for the 3-day cruise – but still, I’m glad I saved the money and booked a guaranteed inside cabin.

Find out more about guaranteed inside cabins, and why I often book them here:

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

Sheltered Balcony Queen Mary 2 Formal night
With friends on their “sheltered” balcony. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2

Cunard has free room service – which most cruise lines do not. I decided to make the most out of it by ordering it – but that part definitely would have been more fun in a balcony cabin. 

Having said that, the best room service I’ve ever had was in an inside cabin, I flew from London to Barbados and boarded the MSC Seaview in the middle of the night.

MSC Room Service Pizza

I ordered a pizza because I was exhausted – and it tasted so good – it was worth every penny. 

Find out more about that amazing, bargain Caribbean cruise below:

The layout of the cabin on Queen Mary 2 was pretty standard – but the same can’t be said for all inside cabins.

Take the inside cabin onboard Havila Polaris for example. All inside cabins on the ship have two bunk beds and a much smaller footprint than normal, there wasn’t much storage in here but luckily the next inside cabin I stayed in had far more. 

Interior Cabin Havila
Interior Cabin Havila Polaris

Ambassador Ambiance Inside Cabin – $179 Per Night

Ambassadors Ambience was built in 1991, and the cruise I booked cost $179 per night.

The ship was bought from P&O Australia and I don’t think that the cabins have changed much – if at all in that time.

We were assigned cabin 9248 and I thought that the layout was great. Having a separate storage/dressing area made the cabin feel big and we were only planning on being onboard for 3 nights – so I didn’t have a lot of stuff.

We didn’t in reality end up staying that long – through no fault of our own! 

Behind the bed was a curtain that went to nowhere – you could almost pretend that there was a window to the outside – but there definitely wasn’t.

The same way I pretend that the sunrise is real when I use a daylight alarm clock so that I don’t wake up in the pitch black. I should have put it behind the curtain. 

Find out more about sunrise alarm clocks in the link below:

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We unpacked but I avoided the drawers that had gross-looking handles – they looked like rat’s tails.

It wouldn’t have cost a lot to fix the few grubby things like that but for some reason, Ambassador didn’t. It is a bit of a strange one. 

The drawer handles were just the start of our issues on this cruise, we were at dinner when the Captain made an announcement and said that our cruise had been cancelled. It was all very bizarre.

Find out more about that strange “cruise to nowhere” in the video below:

Before You Go

Find out all about the cheapest inside cabin I booked on P&O’s Mega ship Iona below. It was very modern, and I really liked it:

I Booked The Cheapest Cabin on a MEGA Cruise Ship

Find out how to get 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

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.