Port v Starboard

When choosing a cabin for your upcoming cruise, you might run across the terms port and starboard. This is nautical lingo for the left and right sides of the ship (respectively), when facing the front, or bow. Is one side better than the other for your cruise room? Read on to find out whether you should choose port versus starboard for your next sailing.

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Pride of America

Port vs. Starboard: Does It Matter?

In truth, you will have a pretty similar experience regardless of the side of the ship on which your cabin is located. Standard cabins will be identical (but possibly with mirrored layouts), whether they're on the port or starboard side. When you're in the open ocean, the view is pretty much the same, and when docked, a ship can tie up on either side, so one side does not consistently have better views in port.

During scenic cruising, such as Glacier Bay in Alaska or the Napali Coast in Hawaii, the captain will usually turn the ship 360 degrees so both sides get good views, and when surrounded by really dramatic scenery, you're better off on the top deck than in your cabin anyway.

One instance when port versus starboard could make a difference is if you're on a cruise that generally sails in one direction, such as a one-way north or southbound Alaska cruise. On these itineraries, choose a port side cabin to see sunsets if you're sailing north or west, or to see sunrise if you're sailing south or east. Choose starboard for the opposite view.

docked cruise ship

Starboard vs. Port: Bottom Line

Ultimately, the most important cabin choices are which deck you're on, whether you're in the middle or toward one end of the ship (for seasickness reasons), and which size and category of room you select. Choosing a starboard or port cabin will have little impact on your trip, especially when you can head up to a public deck to get a wider view.