It may seem a simple matter to seasoned travellers…
But as first-time cruisers, we took our time over choosing the right cabin.
Before we decided on the type of “stateroom”, we had lots of questions which needed answers.
- Where’s the best position on the ship?
- Where’s the quietest part?
- Where’s the least movement if the sea gets rough?
- Where are the best views?
We sought advice from friends… travel agents… anyone who’d been on a cruise.
Front or Back of the Ship?
Some people advised us to go for a midship position.
Because having a midship position should avoid any excessive movement if the ship moves up and down in rough sea.
Others people suggested a position about two-thirds towards to the stern.
But which deck would be best?
Our friends’ advice was that if we were too low in the ship, we would be closer to the engine noise.
But if we went too high, we’d experience more ship movement.
So we opted for a cabin on deck 12. That’s slightly over half way up the large P&O ship Azura.
We considered that the cabins on deck 14, Azura’s “Riveria” deck – which were just above us – may have been a bit too close to the facilities on the open deck above it, and therefore too noisy.
On our second cruise on Azura’s sister ship, the Ventura, we experienced the noise just a little.
On that cruise, most of the time our stateroom was quiet.
But once, when a night-time party was in full swing on the open deck above, we could hear the music through the ceiling. It wasn’t very loud though and only occurred on that one occasion.
However, on our first cruise, we did make a good choice.
Our cabin was on level 12 (A deck) – just over half way up the ship, and nearly 2/3 towards the stern.
Our cabin was quiet and the movement was hardly noticeable.
Overall, we’ve usually found the noise insulation to be good. Only on one cruise did we hear sound from an adjacent cabin – and that was from children kicking the wall.
Why We Chose a Balcony Cabin
Because of the occasion on our first cruise (it was our 25th wedding anniversary), we wanted to be able to sit out in the sunshine with a good book and a drink – and enjoy a little bit of luxury.
So we booked a cabin with a balcony.
Which Side of the Ship?
But which side of the ship should we pick?
Port? Or starboard?
To help us decide, we thought about where the sunshine would be in the morning.
However, when we looked at the circular route the ship was to take, it meant that on some days we would experience direct sunshine in the mornings, whilst on others it would be in the evenings.
So that effectively made no difference to what we chose.
In the end, we booked the starboard side.
If you’re a non-smoker, one thing we discovered about balconies may be helpful:
Although the ship is strictly non-smoking in most areas, there were certain areas where smoking was allowed.
One of these areas was on balconies.
As non-smokers ourselves, the smell of nicotine drifting across from adjacent balconies was quite unpleasant and often temporarily suspended our sunbathing sessions.
But it’s a good investment if you’re a smoker.
P&O have since changed their policy, and smoking cigarettes is no longer allowed on any private balcony.
But it’s worth checking your cruise company’s smoking policy if that’s important to you.
What Would we do on a Future Cruise?
Would we book a balcony on our next cruise?
A balcony is a nice luxury, but it increases the cost of the cruise considerably when compared with an inside cabin.
As a compromise, we considered an outside cabin.
The window would provide the views, and the Lido deck or pool areas would be available for soaking up the sun and getting some fresh air.
However, in the end, on our second cruise, we opted for an inside cabin.
The inside cabin was smaller in size than the balcony cabin – probably about three quarters the size.
Carefully placed mirrors gave the impression of more room.
But was it claustrophobic?
Christine felt slightly claustrophobic at first, but soon got used to it.
The bathroom was a similar size.
The facilities appeared to be the same.
And we were treated no differently.
What we did miss, though, were the nighttime glasses of red wine sat on the balcony, breathing in the warm sea air and feeling the gentle breeze.
But for a fraction of the price of a balcony, it was worth the sacrifice.
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