Choosing a room for your next cruise? If you've never cruised before, or if you've only ever sailed in one type of cabin, it can be overwhelming to choose the ship deck on which you want to spend your time at sea. To help you get your bearings, we clarify the pros and cons of staying on the upper decks of a cruise ship versus a lower deck.
A major bonus of being near the top of the ship is the view. The higher the deck, the better and, often, more panoramic the view. Cabins on top decks aren't always the best on the ship, but many suites and specialty cabin categories are typically located on upper decks.
Like to be near all the action? Most mega-ships place their lido (pool) areas on higher decks. On this deck on each ship, you'll usually find the buffet, bars and entertainment like a big outdoor screen for movies. Sports courts and activities like ropes courses, mini-golf, water parks and other wet and wild attractions are located at or toward the top of the ship, as well. If you're staying on an upper deck, you're already near the action.
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If you're at all prone to seasickness, you'll want to avoid an upper deck cabin. The higher you are on a cruise ship, the more motion you'll feel.
If you're trying to avoid elevator rides or too many stairs, keep in mind how many decks there might be between your cabin and the main areas of activity (dining rooms, theater, atrium, etc.). A few can be a healthy way to work off all the extra dessert (pro), but if there are too many, you could be looking at long waits for the elevator or a long walk up the stairs back to your cabin. Keep any mobility concerns in mind before booking an upper deck cabin.
For cruisers with mobility difficulties, accessible cabins are likely to be located lower on the ship. Lower decks are close to areas of embarkation and disembarkation, as well as the main lobby, theater and most main dining rooms, so it shouldn't be far to get to most places you'd like to go. Lower decks might also have more room in the hallways, which eases passage for those using wheelchairs or other mobility devices.
Balcony cabins are less prominent on lower decks than on higher ones, but for those who enjoy an up-close view of the ocean, booking a lower deck balcony cabin can be quite nice. Carnival Cruise Line has gained a following for its cove balconies -- just a few decks above the water.
If you're prone to seasickness, a lower deck (toward the middle of the ship, if you can) is the best place to be to avoid motion.
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Unless you enjoy the ocean sloshing against your window, a lower deck won't offer much of a view, if any view at all. Depending upon how low your cabin is located, you might be in an inside cabin or a room with a porthole. (Watch out for those with obstructed views.)
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If an expansive view is on the top of your priority list, you're considering a premium category cabin and mobility and motion sickness aren't issues for you, then a cabin on an upper deck might be the right choice.
If you have mobility concerns or suffer from seasickness, want to be close to the main areas of the ship or prefer to stay very close above the ocean, a cabin on a lower deck might be better for your next cruise.
If you're unsure, always check deck plans, discuss cabin location with your travel professional, or inquire about rooms on the Cruise Critic forums before booking a cabin.
Related: Cruise Ship Cabin Reviews
Updated January 08, 2020