10 Scarce But Highly Sought After Cruise Cabins You Should Go After!
10 Scarce But Highly Sought After Cruise Cabins
I’m going to talk about cabins that have four key features.
Firstly, they’re scarce, there’s only a few on the ship.
Secondly, they’re highly sought after because they’re better or have some special added feature the others don’t.
Thirdly, and rather fabulously, they will usually cost you the same as other cabins in the same category, but fourthly, you need to know what they are so you can swoop in and nab them before anyone else.
#1 Accessibility Cabins
First, let’s talk about an obvious one, accessibility cabins.
Less than 2% of cabins on most cruise ships are accessible cabins. So, if you need one of those, you really need to move fast. If we look at the four leading cruise lines in the four biggest categories of cruising, we’ll get an idea of how few there are.
If we look at a mass resort line, Carnival is the biggest. And if we look at one of their newest ships, Mardi Gras, it only has 80 accessibility cabins, that’s only 3%. In the premium category, Sky Princess only has 38 cabins. That’s less than 2% of cabins.
It gets worse as you move into the small ship luxury category, like Viking. They have less than 1% of accessible cabins – there’s only two of them. In an ultra-luxury area, Seabourn only have six of them and only on their newer ships.
So, accessible cabins are a key issue, and you need to move quickly. It’s even worse if you’re the second type of traveller looking for specific cabins.
#2 Solo Cabins
The solo traveller. None of those four lines, Carnival, Princess, Viking, or Seabourn have any solo cabins.
On my website (https://www.tipsfortravellers.com/solo-cabin-cruise-lines) I have listed all the ships that have solo cabins. It’s pretty dismal, to be honest.
The good news is that many new ships across most of the cruise lines are starting to introduce solo cabins, or they are squeezing them in on refits. Like Cunard did. They added 15 on Queen Mary 2 and nine on their other two ships.
Even small lines like Fred Olsen added 40 solo cabins onto each of the 2 ships they bought from Holland America in their refit for 2023
The only cruise line that has any real number of solo cabins is Norwegian, with the solo studios. For example, on Norwegian Encore, they have 82 solo cabins and 128 on Norwegian Epic, with a solo lounge.
But these are tiny. You might have seen Tony at La Lido Loca channel recently travelling in them. But if you want to go solo and avoid a double surcharge to occupy a cabin, you need to move fast.
#3 Aft Cabins
The third option, which is much more appealing to everybody, extremely sought after and hard to nab are aft cabins. These are the cabins at the back of the ship.
Now, many people like those, not only for the views but also because on many cruise lines, including Cunard, Holland America, and many others, they feature massive balconies – some which even wraparound the corner of the deck.
They offer magnificent views, so they’re a big plus, but there’s not many of them.
Now, it’s important to understand if you book one of those cabins, you could have vibrations from the engines and you could have more movement, but they are still extremely popular and very rare. You need to be fast to get one.
#4 “Bulge” Balcony Cabins
Another much sought after cabin, which people who know specific ships really chase, are cabins which are in the ships side bulge. Matt of Royal Caribbean Blog, for example, talks about these a lot. He really likes those.
So, basically, when you look at some cruise ships, you’ll see in the middle there’s a section that juts out. Some of these cabins at the edge of the bulge tend to be bigger and offer larger than normal balconies. They also look down the side of the ship, so they’re particularly good for unobstructed views.
People really like them because they do not cost anything extra. You’d expect them to charge a higher premium, but they don’t.
There’s not many of them. You need to study the ship’s deck plan to find them, , and then book fast to get one.
#5: Hidden Bonus Cabins
The fifth type of cabin is also one where you need a little bit of insider knowledge. This is where you have bonus cabins in the same category, a little bit like the one that I just mentioned. So, for example, on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Breakaway-class of ships, they have ocean-view cabins at the very front of the ship.
But in the middle on decks 9, 10 and 11, the cabins which end with 700, 9-700, 10-700 are twice the size of the other family ocean-view rooms. Many cruisers who are fans of Norwegian know this and they quickly move in and sweep those up.
Now, how do you find these? Well, of course, you need to know the ships well. The best thing to do is ask your travel agent, or even better, ask fans of the ship. Cruise Critic notice boards are a great way of finding little quirky cabins that people have sussed out.
You’ll also find hidden bonus cabins in the same category normally cost the same price but give you so much more. They’re scarce, they’re hard to find, and you need to move quickly.
#6: Spa Cabins
The next area of cabins that are worth looking at and again are hard to track down and book are spa cabins. Many cruise lines have started to introduce them. I’ve found them on Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Azamara.
They all have spa cabins, which are normally linked in some way to the spa – as the name would suggest.
They often have spa access, in-cabin diffusers, access to fitness equipment, and other perks. They’re very popular and there’s very few of them because many of them have often been wedged into the ships.
So, for example, on Azamara Quest, in the refit, they squeezed two of those in. They’re very popular because of the added benefits they offer. Because there’s so few of them, they sell out quickly.
They do tend to have a slight premium, but the perks can make it worth it.
#7: Family and Multiple Occupancy Cabins
One grade of cabin that appeals to a lot of people and are hard to find are family cabins, which can cater for up to six people.
They are limited in numbers. They tend to be oversized cabins, they often have a separate bedroom area or a separate bedroom space, and they often have split or separate bathrooms. The most obvious ones and a good example is on Disney Cruises. I was on Disney Magic recently and I had a Deluxe Family balcony cabin which had a split bathroom, so it made it better for families.
Most family lines, so lines like MSC, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian, have more family cabins, which will have all those spaces included. The good news is many of them will have them available at all levels. So let’s use Royal Caribbean for example. They have interiors, ocean view, right through to suites catering for families, but there are not many of them.
So, for example, Holland America, which is trying to attract more families, have family suites, but they only have 32 of them in their newer ships. They have more living space, they can hold up to five guests, have separate bathrooms and more storage space. But you need to move fast If you’re travelling as a family, particularly during those peak seasons.
If you don’t manage to get a family-specific cabin, one way to still get the space you need is to look at booking lower grade interconnecting cabins next to each other. But again, you must plan ahead to get those.
Another key area linked to all of this is if you’re planning to book a multiple occupancy cabin. So, you’re going to be travelling as two couples or with friends. Firstly, there are limited multiple occupancy cabins on many lines. As you move up into more family or resort lines like MSC or Royal Caribbean, or even lines like Disney, they have many of them, but a lot of cruise lines, which cater for couples, have fewer of them.
So, you need to move fast if you’re travelling as a group, but secondly, you also need to look for cabins which have a more distinctive area. So, for example, they have a curtain between the seating area and the bedroom area. Those are hard to find but are much better if you are travelling with friends, or even extended members of your family. Ask your travel agent, the line or those Cruise Critic boards which cabins have that.
#8: One-Of-A-Kind Cabins
The next is one of my favourite areas and it is really the quirky, one-of-a-kind cabins that are very special and very different, and not all these necessarily cost a lot of money.
One of the most renowned is the Ben & Jerry’s Sweet, which is on the Freedom-class ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet. This is a stateroom that is just above the Ben & Jerry’s store on board, and you get all sorts of perks, like free ice cream. The cabin itself is quite unique and decorated in Ben & Jerry’s cow decor. You have access to the concierge lounge, priority reservations, and it’s very unusual.
The second one, which is fantastic, is on Hapag-Lloyd Europa 2. They have a family apartment, as they call it, where you have two separate areas and the kids’ area is fitted with special bathrooms, bunk beds and toys.
The Tower Suite, which is on Wish and Treasure, the new Disney ships, have an amazing suite, which is in the funnel, so super quirky and unusual.
On Royal Caribbean, again, you have the Aqua Theatre Suites, which are on the Oasis-class ships. They can hold up to eight guests and overlook the Aqua Theatre. So, you have a wraparound balcony with incredible views of the sea, and of course, a fantastic private space to watch the aqua shows.
Again, on Royal Caribbean, you’ll find the Ultimate Family Suite, which is a two-level complex with air hockey, Lego walls, hot tubs, and a slide.
There are many different themed and special cabins across different cruise lines. Like Virgin, with their RockStar suites, is another example.
#9: New Addition Cabins
Many people chase cabins which have been added onto ships, and this is a good watch out. As ships age, many cruise lines will start to add more cabins by reconfiguring spaces.
So, for example, as I mentioned, Cunard introduced solo cabins by reconfiguring space that was in the casino. On Queen Mary 2 they also added Britannia Club options. This was a whole new category right on the top of the ship, in an area that used to be open deck space.
Other cruise lines cut ships in half and add midsections. So, for example, Windstar have done it with Breeze, Legend, and Pride, and they added brand new cabins.
What I did for a cruise that I’ve booked next year on Windstar Breeze is to make sure that I’ve booked in one of the cabins in the new section because they are more modern, more contemporary, and offer more facilities. They cost the same price, but they’re just better, basically.
#10: Maiden Voyage Cabins
Another critical thing to bear in mind, which is not specific cabin related, but are scarce, is any ship going on a maiden voyage, every single category of cabin sells out fast. So, all those cabins on a maiden voyage are always scarce.
If you want to know more about choosing a cabin, watch this video where I talk about how you find a cabin in the best part of the ship. So even if you miss out on getting one of these scarce cabins, you can still a cabin in the best place you possibly can. Starting with my fail proof tip which works every time. See you over there.
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