When selecting a cabin for an upcoming cruise, many people will stop and wonder what the best side of the cruise will be. You can either select a port or starboard side (left or right). The side of the cruise you stay could have huge implications for your trip, so it’s best to figure out where you want to be.
Which is the best side of a cruise ship to be on? If you want scenic views of land, look on a map and see where the cruise will be departing from. Based on the route, the best side of the cruise ship to be on will either be port or starboard. For example, if Cape Horn will be on the left of your cruise as it travels out, select a port side cabin.
The bottom line is this; review the cruise ship’s journey and itinerary before you book, and then select the side of the boat you want to be in to get the best views. If the return journey follows the same route, then it doesn’t really matter, as you will either get the view leaving or returning.
The port side of a boat or ship is always the left side that’s facing forward towards a ship’s bow. I’ve put together a quick cheat which explains to you how to remember port versus starboardwhen choosing where to book a cabin on a cruise ship.
Starboard and port are nautical lingo for the right and left sides of the ship (respectively), when facing the bow or front. So which side is better for your cruise room? Should you choose starboard or port for your next sailing?
Well, as I said, it’s all down the itinerary and route, and what you want to get out of your cruise trip.
But what about if you suffer from seasickness? Does the side of the cruise ship matter for that?
No, but the area of the cruise ship you are in does. For example, will you be on a higher level, midway, or at one of the ends? I’ve explained where the best place to be on a cruise ship is if you suffer with seasickness.
Starboard vs. port: does it matter on a cruise ship?
The truth is that you’ll have pretty much the same experience regardless of the side your cabin is located on the ship. Whether they are on the starboard or port side, standard cabins will be identical but maybe with mirrored layouts.
When on the open sea or ocean, the views are almost similar. When docked, the crew can tie up a ship on either side. This means that one side doesn’t consistently have better views when in port.
During scenic cruising like the Napali Coast in Hawaii or Glacier Bay in Alaska, the captain usually turns the ship 360 degrees for both sides to get good views. When surrounded by really dramatic scenery, the top deck is better compared to your cabin.
One instance when starboard versus port can come into play or could make a difference is if you are on a cruise that sails in one direction generally such as a one-way South or Northbound Alaska cruise.
In these scenarios, it is prudent to choose a portside cabin in order to view the sunsets if you happen to be sailing west or north or to check out the sunrise if you are sailing east or south. For the opposite view, choose starboard.
Why you should consider the cabin more than the side of the ship
While some people might have different opinions regarding this subject and opine that one side is better than the other, in all honesty, it doesn’t matter.
Trouble is that a ship might position itself differently week to week during a cruise. It is wise to pick the cabin and avoid putting too much focus on a particular side.
Ultimately, the most important cabin choices shouldn’t be the starboard or port but rather the deck you are on, the category and size of the room you choose or towards one ship end (for sea-sickness reasons).
Chances are high that choosing a port or starboard cabin will have very little impact on your trip. This is especially true if you can manage to get to a public deck for wider views.
How to choose a cruise ship cabin
A stateroom, also known as a cabin, is your room in a cruise ship. It resembles a hotel room only that it is typically smaller. Choosing one might be challenging and fun at the same time. Occasionally, it can be frustrating.
What’s important to note is that cabins normally fall into different ‘’categories’’ or types. Some cruise lines present as many as twenty or more categories.
Before you get overwhelmed, it is essential to know that there are only four types of cabins on a cruise vessel:
- Suite: This is relatively larger cabin often with separate sleeping and living areas coupled with an array of additional perks and amenities.
- Balcony: A balcony is simply a room that features a veranda, which enables you to step outside without having to go up to a public deck.
- Outside: An outside room has a porthole (round window) with a clear view of the outside area. Often, it is similar in size to an inside cabin.
- Inside: This is the smallest-sized room in a cruise ship. It doesn’t have a window to the outside.
The permutations (price, amenities, location, view, and size) of the four above-mentioned cabin types that make choosing difficult. On top of knowing and understanding your cabin options, you should ask yourself these questions:
- Do you normally get seasick? (See where you should book here)
- Are you willing to splurge on certain amenities, or you find it hard to justify paying for unnecessary perks?
- Do you prefer to relax peacefully on your balcony or hang around the crowd around the pool area?
These and many other questions will assist you in choosing the best cabin for your budget.
Do you still feel overwhelmed by the different options available? Here are some of the major factors to consider to make an informed decision:
A good number of cruise lines, for some reason, assign their nicest as well as costliest cabins to the higher decks. The pool deck is often the one that causes the most noise issues.
Consequently, if you do not desire to hear yee-hawing pool parties or scraping chairs at crack of dawn, then it is wise to choose a down level cabin.
Actually, when it comes to noise, your best bet is to choose a cabin that’s both below and above others.
Other pitfalls include service areas that are above or adjacent to your stateroom. Other cabins that can be problematic in terms of noise are those that are located at the back due to their anchor, vibration, and proximity engine noise.
Are you one of the cruisers that prefer their cabins to be far away or near to specific areas of a ship? Sun-worshippers, for instance, may prefer the upper-deck location that is close to the sun decks and pools while the hard partiers may desire access to the midship entertainment hubs.
If you are a traveler with mobility issues, you might prefer a stateroom that’s nearby the elevators.
Cabin location is really important if you are fond of getting seasick. Really, it is a question of engineering. The more central and lower you are in a cruise ship, the less sway and roll you’ll feel. Always choose the most midship and lowest level one you can find. The front cabins or higher decks tend to rock and roll the most.
A concierge takes care of all annoying practical matters that you might need to be attended to while on a cruise. Some of them include booking shore excursions, making dinner, making spa reservations, and even initiating requests at the front desk.
The good thing is their services are usually included within the price of a suite. In some ships, the concierge can have an exclusive lounge where high-level past passengers and guests can relax, drink, and snack in private.
Concierge-level cabins might also come with in-cabin amenities such as afternoon canapés, fruit baskets, or welcome drinks.
All cabins, regardless of the type, come with basic amenities. Some of the common ones include individual climate control, shampoo, and soap in the bathroom etc. Certain categories of stateroom have added perks.
For instance, suites have an array of privileges and extras, everything from in-cabin bar setups to priority boarding. Spa cabins provide spa-related perks like yoga mats in a fancy shower head or in the cabin.
Concierge-level cabins offer you access to niceties and concierge such as afternoon canapés. Solo cabins may offer additionals like an exclusive lounge.
Having a personal butler is a wonderfully pampering experience. Some cruise lines usually have a butler service as part of the fare fee if you choose a ‘’concierge-level’’ or suite cabin. It is prudent to keenly analyze the difference in cruise fare in order to decide if it is really worth your hard-earned money.
Beyond that, ensure you have a look at the services provided. Some cruise line butlers might offer extra value. For example, some can provide room service from hard-to-get-into alternative restaurants.
The last word…
If you have recently taken a cruise and have experiences to share on what you found to be the best side to be on for the best views I would love to hear from you. Please get in touch on social media, as I can then update this guide with your personal experiences!