Just when you've finally figured out the difference between a category 4A and category 8B stateroom on Carnival, you're going to have to learn a whole new system. Carnival has announced plans to recategorize all of its staterooms, beginning with the Carnival Valor. The new cabin assignment system goes into effect on August 18 for Valor bookings, with the rest of the fleet following suit by the end of 2008.
Carnival has expanded its cabin categories to more accurately reflect both cabin features (window, balcony, etc.) and location. There will be different categories for the same cabins on upper or lower decks and in different locations on each deck (forward, aft, midship) -- even taking into account proximity to the dining room, pool or kids' facilities.
How will this new system affect you? On the positive side, it should be easier to identify which category to book based on your cabin preferences. If you want an outside cabin on a high deck midship, for example, there is a now a specific category for those kinds of cabins.
On the negative side, more categories means more price differences -- although a Carnival spokeswoman assures us the "cost differentials are minimal." However, a "better" (according to Carnival) location will now cost a little more than similar cabins in less desirable locations. And some ships' "hidden gems" (such as the back corner standard balcony cabins that have wraparound verandahs) may be identified as popular and put in a more expensive category.