Last updated: 01:38 PM ET, Sat March 07 2015

Opinion Home | Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

  • Amber Nolan | March 7, 2015 1:38 PM ET

    Cruise Liners With the Best Lower-Tier Cabins

    Cruise Liners With the Best Lower-Tier Cabins

    The attractive starting rates advertised on cruise lines usually apply to small, interior cabins or oceanview staterooms (with a small window). However, not all lower-tier staterooms are the same, and some vessels offer downright roomy accommodations and unique amenities that make for comfortable cruising at an affordable price. These ships offer the best budget accommodations and overall value.

    Disney’s Dream and Fantasy

    Leave it to Disney to sprinkle a little magic into the plain (and often stuffy) interior cabins. The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy are fitted with digital porthole windows that feature “ocean” views and the occasional Disney character that makes a guest appearance on the screen. Deluxe inside staterooms offer contemporary Art Deco decor, an impressive 204 square feet of space, iPod docking stations, Sealy Posturepedic mattresses with Egyptian cotton linens, flat screen televisions, and full bathrooms.

    Carnival’s Entire Fleet

    The entire Carnival Cruise Line fleet wins honors for the sheer size of its 185-square-foot interior staterooms. This number is significantly larger than comparable ships with other companies. Cabin amenities include bathrobes, beach towels, turndown service with chocolates on pillows, and beds designed exclusively for Carnival with 100 percent hypoallergenic down.

    Costa’s “Premium Perks”

    Costa’s added amenities aren’t just for suites; the “premium category” (available fleet-wide) adds perks to all stateroom levels such as free continental breakfast in cabins, twice-daily maid service (versus once in standard rooms), and complimentary room service (plus a 10 percent discount on a future cruise). Robes and slippers, after-sun cream, body lotion, and an amenity kit round out the added luxuries. Staterooms sizes hover just above the average; for example the Costa Mediterranea’s inside cabins have 160 square feet and ocean view have 175.

    Royal Caribbean’s Anthem and Quantum of the Seas

    One exciting new feature on Anthem of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas is the virtual balconies installed in the interior rooms. Using cameras displayed around the ship and high-definition technology, the nearly floor-to-ceiling “balcony” screens simulate the movement and sounds of the ocean as close as it can get to an actual cabin balcony (only without the breeze). The large interior rooms measure a comfortable 178 square feet, and also include a mini fridge, television, and sofa.

    Celebrity Solstice Class Ships

    On Celebrity’s Solstice Class (which consists of five of the cruise line’s newest vessels), the sleek, modern interior staterooms measure 183 square feet and are actually larger than an upgrade to oceanview cabins (with 177 square feet). Perks include twice-daily cabin service, 24-hour room service, mini fridges, bathrobes, custom-designed bedding, and daily ice delivery (it may not seem like big deal, but getting ice can be an issue on other cruise lines).

    Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Celebration

    Anyone who sailed on the Bahamas Celebration (Celebration Cruise Line) on the quick getaway cruises (the notorious “free” cruise promotion), may remember the closet-like interior “Coach” cabins with just 86 square feet of space. After the ship was damaged beyond repair, a new cruise line, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, was formed and purchased the Grand Celebration – a much roomier vessel. Grand Celebration was originally built by Carnival and interior staterooms boast 172 square feet of space – a significant improvement from its predecessor. The Grand Celebration sails a two-night itinerary from the Port of Palm Beach to Grand Bahama Island at budget-friendly rates.

    Holland America’s Rotterdam, Zaandam and Volendam

    Three of Holland America’s vessels, the Rotterdam, Zaandam, and Volendam stand out from the rest of the fleet with large interior rooms that contain 182 square feet of space. Additional room comforts include Sealy mattresses, Egyptian cotton towels, bath amenities from Elemis Aromapure, shoeshine, nightly turndown service, and a fruit basket on request.


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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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