From your destination to your itinerary, there’s a lot to consider when booking a cruise. But before you fill your head up with thoughts of what to do, where to go, and what to eat, you might want to consider where you plan to sleep. What many cruise guests don’t know is that their place on a cruise ship can significantly affect the experience.
The specific location of your stateroom could make or break the entire vacation. So which is the best side of a cruise ship to be on? Take cues from this practical guide.
Port vs Starboard: What’s the Difference?
If you’re not used to maritime lingo, the words ‘port’ and ‘starboard’ can seem a little too technical. But simply put, port is the left side of the ship and starboard is the right. These terms were coined sometime in the 16th century as the New World colonization came into full swing.
Of course, you could always just say ‘left’ and ‘right’, but the difficulty is that these terms can change meaning depending on the perspective of the person using them. Port and starboard stay the same regardless of where you look at the boat from, eliminating the ever annoying exchange of ‘my left or your left?’
What is the Best Side of a Cruise Ship to Be On?
The side you choose will heavily affect the kind of views you get during the trip. And because most of your cruise will be spent, well, cruising, it’s important that you choose a stateroom that will give you exactly the kind of picturesque backdrop you’re hoping to post on your Instagram page.
Some cruises will offer breathtaking views regardless of where your room is located. For instance, a trip through the Panama Canal will provide beautiful scenery whether you choose port or starboard. Then of course, there are other routes that might have most of the mountain sides, quaint villages, and shorelines on just one side during the whole trip.
For those who want both calm ocean waves and a view of the locality, closed-loop routes start and end at the same departure port. That means you can get the best of both worlds regardless of whether you choose port or starboard.
Again, it’s all a matter of preference. If you like the sights and sounds of the ocean, then choose a stateroom that faces the wide open waves. Otherwise, you can book a room that faces the unique scenery that you’re scheduled to pass through. If you’re not sure which side offers which, you can always give your cruise liner a call and they should be able to assist you.
Is the Cabin More Important Than Location?
Some people say that it doesn’t really matter what side of a cruise ship you’re on, as long as your cabin provides the kind of comfort, space, and convenience that you prefer. To some extent, that might actually be true. To give you a better idea, it’s important to know the four types of cruise staterooms:
These rooms are the smallest and don’t have any windows that show you the view outside.
Usually the same size as inside rooms, but may have a window or a porthole that shows you what’s going on outside.
These larger rooms have their own veranda that lets you step outside and enjoy the fresh breeze without having to step out on deck.
These are the largest and most luxurious. Bedrooms are separate from living rooms, and some might even have a kitchenette.
If you really think about it, you probably won’t be spending too much of your time locked up in your stateroom. There are a lot of things you can do on a cruise ship, and tons of interesting places to visit on board. So although that room view might play a role, you’re not going to be there 24/7 to stare out the window.
See to it that you also consider the quality of your stateroom. Does it provide enough space? What about any features and amenities that could improve the experience? If you only plan to plop in bed after a day of activities, and inside or outside room might be enough. But if you’re staycationing like nobody’s business, definitely upgrade to a balcony or suite.
How to Choose the Best Cabin on a Cruise Ship
Before you make that booking, see to it that you fully understand what you’re getting. There’s a lot to consider when choosing a stateroom, and there are a few factors that might not come to mind unless you really take the time to think things through. Here are some basic considerations:
Do You Get Seasick?
This could play a major role in your enjoyment. If you find that you often get seasickness on a boat, then you might want to choose a room with a view. Rooms with opening windows or balconies also improve ventilation which can help you breathe much better. See our complete guide on where to stay on a cruise ship to avoid seasickness.
You might also be interested in: Can Seasickness Kill You? and How to Prevent Seasickness on a Boat.
What Kind of View Do You Want?
Again, it’s all about preference. You can always ask your cruise line to find out what kind of view you can expect on either the port or starboard side of their ship.
How Much are you Willing to Spend?
Like airfares, cabin prices can fluctuate dramatically. Typically though, prices tend to drop around two months before the cruise is set to sail. Although it can be risky (especially if staterooms are selling out fast) you can hold on to your luck and wait it out to see if you can snag a discounted deal.
A Room with a View
Deciding on the side of the ship you want to be on depends mainly on your preference and what you expect to do while you’re on board. So, exactly which is the best side of a cruise ship to be on? Well, you’ll be the judge of that. Just make sure to consider your expectations and don’t be afraid to ask so you can get the most out of your cruise ship experience.