It can be an easy decision to choose an inside, oceanview or balcony stateroom. To find the best stateroom location, however, can be a challenge or a mystery, especially if you’re a new cruiser.
In this article, I’ve narrowed down the worst locations to choose for your stateroom. All of these are based on my own experiences and not all of them ended well. Live and learn.
So read on to know where not to book your stateroom. If you book what’s called a “guaranteed” stateroom in a particular category, this information will be helpful, too.
Eight Stateroom Locations You Should Avoid
While most cruise blogs tell you what are the best stateroom locations, not all tell you what staterooms to avoid at all costs.
A glance at cruise lines’ glossy brochures and flashy websites is not very helpful for prospective cruise passengers to choose the best stateroom location.
However, a thorough examination of your cruise ships’s deck plans is your greatest ally. And yes, all are available online. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find them, though.
While the ship specs sometimes aren’t perfectly accurate, it is possible to eliminate unwanted surprises.
Know your stateroom category color, then notice what venues, if any, are under or above your stateroom.
Not kidding here; really scrutinize the current deck plan. That’s the only way you’ll know where not to book your stateroom.
After 5 decades of cruising and more than 200 cruises, here is my list of where not to book a stateroom.
1. Not Under or Over the Disco
If the late-night party scene isn’t in your cruise plans, this is a no-brainer to avoid. Discos can blast away until well past midnight and while you may not hear all the words to YMCA, you’ll most likely feel the beat.
Same for any other late night music venues.
2. Not Near Crew or Service Doors
The disturbance level can vary widely from ship to ship, cruise line to cruise line. If you see blank space or white boxes between staterooms or across from stateroom, this usually indicates a service or crew hallway.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter because the crew is considerate and quiet and the closing mechanism creates a gently shut/click.
However, I’ve seen crew stairway doors with towels stuffed into the doorframe to try and prevent the door from slamming shut. I’d avoid this location if possible.
3. Definitely Not Under the Lido Buffet
With cruise ship buffets staying open past midnight and re-opening at 6:30 AM. there’s always a team hard at work.
Book a stateroom directly under the ship’s buffet and you’ll hear chairs scraping across the floor. Heavily-laden trolleys creak and rattle directly overhead all night long, to clean up and prepare for early morning breakfast.
While not noticeable during the day, at night and overnight the noise can awaken even the most sound sleeper.
On more than one occasion, when I was too lazy or forgetful to check the deck plan, I’ve done a stateroom switch on day two. Not something I enjoy doing.
4. Make Sure There’s No Adjoining Door
Unless you’re traveling with friends or family, you don’t want a stateroom with an adjoining door to strangers.
it’s important to know that the dividing door between staterooms does not have as much sound-proofing as the walls.
Even walls let sound through, but adjoining doors are ridiculous. You might be fortunate and have neighbors as quiet as church mice, but it’s a gamble.
How do you know if the room you reserve has an adjoining door? Study the deck plan.
If you see a symbol (maybe a two-sided arrow) on the wall between two staterooms, this indicates an adjoining door. Always check the symbols key for exact information.
5. Not All The Way at the Bow
If you love the motion of the ocean, this is the best location for you. If you have calm seas the entire cruise, this won’t be an issue.
But for those who prefer a smoother ride or are worried about getting seasick, this isn’t your location. You’ll feel every wave.
6. Not Directly Across From Lifeboats
Not the worst of locations, but definitely a disappointment if you’re expecting a panoramic view of the sea.
A lifeboat obstruction isn’t usually visible in the brochure or website photos. Lifeboat obstructions can also occur in varying degrees, from 25 to 100 percent obstructed views.
If the stateroom description states that it has an obstructed view, further investigation is needed to determine the degree.
Sometimes, it’s only that the lifeboat is below rather than in front of the window. Or maybe the stateroom you want is between two staterooms.
Ask your travel agent or reservation person to check the amount of blocked view.
Note: Want daylight at a bargain price? Sometimes a partially obstructed or fully obstructed view is hundreds of dollars less than a perfectly non-obstructed view.
You still get daylight and sometimes can peek around the lifeboat and get a little oceanview.
7. Never Under the Fitness Room
If you plan to sleep past 6 or 7 AM, this is definitely NOT the place to where you want your stateroom location.
On a transatlantic cruise a couple of years ago, my stateroom was directly below the free weights area of the fitness center.
As soon as the gym opened at 6 a.m., someone was lifting way too much weight and boom! He’d let the weights hit the floor with the force of a wrecking ball against a brick wall.
After three days of this happening, I finally rang the fitness center to ask the manager to please ask the guest to go a little easier and to set the weights down gently rather than dropping them.
8. Don’t Share a Wall with a Fast-Food Type Restaurant
On Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas and other Oasis class ships with a Boardwalk neighborhood on Deck 6, there are staterooms located behind Playmakers Sports Bar.
When Playmakers is cooking their delicious chicken wings and other fried bites, the smell of grease permeates into the staterooms that share a wall with this restaurant.
If you don’t want to smell fried food all day and night, avoid those staterooms on Deck 6.
9. Don’t book a stateroom that’s directly below a swimming pool.
A reader wrote to me that he had this location one time and the sound of the pool pumps starting up in the morning was way to disruptive. Good to know!
What happens if you book a guaranteed stateroom category and it’s in one of these locations?
Unfortunately, you could be out of luck. On the other hand, many cruise lines will allow you to change your guaranteed stateroom as long as space is available. You must stay in the exact same category as what they assigned to you.
Of course these are only suggestions as to what are not the best stateroom locations on a cruise ship. Unwanted noise can be very disruptive and sometimes ruin a cruise vacation.
Personally, I like to book my stateroom three or four rooms from an elevator bank. Why? It makes it easier for me on disembarkation day. Less distance to drag my suitcases.
But almost everyone has their opinions on the best location for a stateroom and where not to book a stateroom.
Keep in mind that different ships, older vs. new, large vs. small and ocean vs. river, can vary in soundproofing, layout and even respect for disturbing other passengers.
A bit of due diligence and careful planning can result in the best cruise experience of a lifetime.
I’m the editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com, a solo traveler cruising the world on waves and wheels, collecting recipes along the way. I hope my articles and photos entertain, advise and inspire you to travel the world without flying. Take a breath…stop for a local meal and a glass of wine along the way.