When I started cruising in 2003, my family insisted on booking a balcony stateroom or a suite.
Having a big cabin to share was nice, but we didn’t spend much time in the room and seldom used the balcony. It was a costly amenity that was largely unused.
When I started sailing independently, I booked balcony rooms out of habit.
Years later, I saw an inexpensive last-minute deal on a cruise from New York on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Getaway, but it was in a 100-square-foot solo cabin without so much as a window.
I went for it. Since then, I’ve solely booked interior staterooms. I’m convinced these cabins are the smartest choice.
Interior cabin or not, you’re unlikely to spend much time in your room — or on its balcony
No matter the cruise line, there’s always more to enjoy outside the cabin than in it, from the spa to ports of call.
After 25 cruises and more than a decade of sailing in balcony rooms, I can estimate I’ve probably spent just a few hours on cruise-ship balconies.
Spending mere minutes or an hour on a balcony per cruise doesn’t justify the extra cost.
And unless you’ve booked an extra-large balcony or a suite, the outdoor space will likely be teeny tiny.
Even cabins designed for families, like the 299-square-foot deluxe family ocean-view stateroom on the Disney Fantasy, don’t have a balcony big enough for a group of four to sit comfortably.
Add in the potential for noisy neighbors or windy conditions that may force you indoors, and balconies become largely a waste of space and money.
Interior cabins are often just as big as, if not bigger than, rooms with windows
Though you’re spending more money, you often aren’t getting a bigger room by opting to have a window.
They vary by deck, location, and ship, but interior staterooms can be the same size as or larger than ocean-view ones.
For example, on Holland America Line’s Rotterdam, double-occupancy interior staterooms are 143 to 225 square feet, and ocean-view staterooms are 175 to 282 square feet.
Interior cabins have fun features you don’t get in exterior ones
Technology has helped make interior cabins feel comfortable instead of claustrophobic.
I’ve enjoyed the one-way window into the ship’s corridor in Norweigan Cruise Line’s interior cabins. Its cordless metal blinds let me adjust the light coming in, and sliding shutters offered a complete blackout.
Disney Cruise Line’s interior rooms feature “magic” portholes, where footage featuring surprise character visits is displayed on a porthole-shaped monitor.
Some Royal Caribbean interior rooms have floor-to-ceiling virtual “balconies,” which are screens that project real-time outside views.
I like that interior staterooms save me money so I can go on even more cruises
The savings add up, especially if you’re on a tight budget or cruise often.
Plus, there’s always a chance you could get upgraded to a balcony room for free if a cruise is undersold or you have a high-enough loyalty status.
I use the money I save on my room for onboard expenses on my next cruise — which I’ll take in an interior cabin, of course.