The selection of your cabin category is one of the weirdest decisions to make about your cruise – it is the SOLE thing that determines how much you pay for your trip, yet you will spend the least amount of time there. Since everyone onboard arrives at the same time, the only advantage for picking a higher category is the perks (aka amenities). Also see Suites.
An inside cabin is usually what people book on their first cruise as it is usually the least expensive cabin. If you will be cruising on an itinerary where there is not much to see (transatlantic perhaps), an inside cabin might be just fine. If you are cruising Hawaii or the Inside Passage of Alaska, however, you may want to see the beautiful scenery outside! Unlike other categories that are usually grouped together, inside cabins are scattered throughout the ship on all passenger decks.
Typically, window cabins have more livable space than an inside cabin, but then again not as much as a balcony cabin. They DO provide you an opportunity to see what is going on outside (especially to check out the weather for the day or just fun pulling into port!) While still in your jammies, you get your first glimpse of the culture of the city you will be visiting that day!
On the newer built ships, the outside cabin categories MIGHT be more expensive than the balcony cabins! Yes, really! Since balcony cabins are in bigger demand and the newer ships have more balcony cabins to offer, they oftentimes can be more expensive. The misconception is that a window cabin would be less expensive than a balcony, so for those NOT in the know, they just ask for a window cabin, but it might be more expensive than if you had that balcony! Bottom line, ask your travel agent.
BALCONY (aka VERANDAH) CABINS
For those that like fresh air, a balcony cabin is quite helpful AND now that there are no smoking rules for guest cabins, you no longer have to worry about smoke from the joker in the cabin forward of you wafting into your cabin!
The added advantage to the balcony is that you can actually go out and experience ‘pulling into port’ right from your cabin! (although you will want to put a robe on as everyone else will be out there in their jammies as well!) or upon your return after a day of sight-seeing, sitting on your balcony with a nice glass of wine.
One of the best deals going on a cruise ship can often be an obstructed window cabin. These are cabins have a window, but some portion of the view is obstructed by either a life boat or other rigging of the ship.
If you’re considering an inside cabin (for the low price), consider booking an obstructed cabin as this at least will get you SOME kind of view without paying the higher price for a full window cabin.
If you are considering a window cabin, on the most recently built ships, the window cabins are generally on the lower decks of the ship, yet the obstructed view cabins are usually midship, so you would have better placement on the ship in an obstructed view cabin than a window cabin category. (Since you are truly NOT in your cabin much anyway, it might save you some money to just get the obstructed view – you will still be able to see out AND get better placement on the ship and save your money for a nice shore excursion!)