During a recent cruise, my ship sailed to Bermuda, it had a pool and water park on board. But lounging on my stateroom balcony was the part that felt most like a vacation.
Sitting in the sun in my own space on Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, Carnival Venezia, as the waves rolled by, I was able to relax in a way I don’t usually do at home.
For some travelers, a cruise stateroom is nothing more than a place to rest between activities. But for others like myself, it can make a trip. Many ships have a range of categories to choose from at varying price points, which come with different advantages.
Here’s what the least and most expensive rooms on the Venezia are like.
What is the least expensive cabin on a cruise ship?
Interior or inside staterooms are typically the least expensive category on a cruise. Those cabins are generally the smallest on board and rarely accommodate more than three people, according to Joy Hess, owner and lead travel consultant at Outside the Lines Travel.
They also don’t have windows, something that travelers who get seasick and could benefit from fresh air should keep in mind. Some interior cabins have portholes with screens that simulate a view – like Disney Cruise Line’s “magical portholes” – “so people don’t feel quite as landlocked, so to speak,” said Hess.
“It’s a box with no view,” she said of the cabin category. “Interior staterooms are great for people who plan to be out of their room except to sleep.”
Venezia’s cheapest interior staterooms feature a queen-size bed or twin and Pullman beds, and like every room, a TV and dedicated stateroom attendant. Prices vary by sailing dates and length, but an interior room on a nine-day cruise sailing round-trip from New York to Miami and the Bahamas on Feb. 2, 2024, starts at $459 per guest based on double occupancy.
The fare includes most food, and drinks like iced tea and regular coffee and more.
Along with their lower base fares, interior rooms – like other standard categories – also come with cheaper gratuities. Carnival recommends $16 gratuities per person, per day for standard staterooms, according to its website. If guests have not prepaid those tips before their sailing, the line will automatically add the charges to passengers’ onboard accounts, though the amounts can be adjusted at their discretion before they disembark.
Some of Hess’s clients prefer interior rooms for more than just the cost-savings. “Some people are afraid of water, and they don’t want to know that they are in the middle of the ocean,” she said. Others enjoy the dark space for sleeping, with no bright sun to wake them in the morning.
What is the most expensive cabin on a cruise ship?
On the opposite end of the price spectrum, multi-room suites tend to be the most expensive rooms on board, Hess said. They can measure thousands of square feet, often with spacious balconies.
They also typically come with a range of perks. In the case of Venezia’s Ocean Suites – its most expensive room category – that includes priority boarding, debarkation, and main dining room times; access to the ship’s Terrazza Carnevale lounge area; special brunches on select sea days; bathrobes and more. Venezia’s suites are smaller than some other suites at other ships, though, ranging from 327 to 356 square feet.
Fares for those staterooms also vary by sailing date and length, but an Ocean Suite on the same Feb. 2, 2024 sailing starts at $2,029 per person based on double occupancy. Passengers in suites pay $18 per guest, per day in gratuities.
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Hess said suites can be good fits for travelers with multigenerational families, those celebrating a special occasion, or who just “want to experience a cruise without being around a lot of other people.”
And even if you can’t get the exact room you want, there may be unexpected upsides. Hess once stayed in an ocean-view room on a low deck, but her disappointment at its location turned to joy when she saw whales swim by outside her window, which she said she wouldn’t have seen if she had been higher.
“You can make the most of it no matter what,” she said.
Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What cruisers should know about the cheapest, most expensive cabins