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MV Swell Cabins

3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
3 reviews
Editor Rating
Ginger Dingus
Cruise Critic Contributor

The maximum number of passengers is 12, and one or two of the ship's seven cabins may be used by the captain or crew. Cabins are located on the two decks and named for trees found in British Columbia. Each has a door opening to a covered outside walkway, one or more portholes that open and a private bathroom. Cabins come with individual temperature controls but no keys. If you want fresh air, it's best to leave your door hooked in a partially open position or open a porthole, if there's one in your sleeping area.

Decor in the cabins is nautical with wood paneling, brass and blue bed covering. Lighting is excellent, with both ceiling lights and bed lamps mounted on the wall. There is one dual 110 volt electric outlet per cabin, and it's not in the bathroom. Storage space is extremely limited. It pays to follow the suggestion to bring only soft-sided, foldable luggage. Cabins have one or more hooks for hanging jackets and rain paints; even more hooks would be welcome.

The cabins are separated into three categories. The two smallest staterooms (category 1), named Red Alder and Garry Oak, are on the top deck. These have upper and lower bunk-style beds and measure 57 square feet. Think of an Amtrak train compartment and you'll get the idea. No ladder is provided for climbing into the upper berth, so you need to be agile. The sink is beside the bunks. Storage is in cubby holes under the bed, a cabinet under the sink and a narrow cupboard with shelves. The window near the beds does not open, but there is a ceiling hatch for fresh air when it's not raining. A porthole in the small bathroom opens.

Category 2 has three cabins. All the way forward on the main deck is the 81-square-foot Arbutus (a tree similar to a madrone), with a bunk bed configuration with a wider lower berth. There is no storage under the beds, but there is a cabinet with shelves at each end of the bunks. The sink is across from the beds, and there is a small desk and chair. Arbutus has four opening portholes. This cabin is unique in that it has a door on the port side and another on starboard side. Being in the bow, the floor is noticeably slanted. You'll need to step over the high threshold to enter your room and step down for the bathroom.

Also in category 2 are two 80-square-foot cabins on the top deck, Western Hemlock and Sitka Spruce. Each has an irregularly shaped double bed that is markedly narrower at the foot (about 31 inches wide) than at the head (52 inches), where it spans the width of the room alongside a three-drawer nightstand. The bed's narrow foot makes the cabin more suitable for a solo traveler, unless you and your partner are fairly small or enjoy cuddling up all night. Storage is in cubbies under the bed, the bedside cabinet and a narrow wall-mounted shelf. While the window in the bedroom does not open, you can open the ceiling hatch above the bed and a small bathroom porthole. The bathrooms of these two cabins are among the Swell's largest and are handy for hanging damp rain jackets.

The largest cabins (category 3), Cedar at 118 square feet and Douglas Fir at 120 square feet, each feature an almost queen-size bed (75.5 inches by 57 inches) set next to a wall on one side. The bathrooms are somewhat larger with a sink, shower and toilet.

Cedar is on the main deck. You step over the threshold and step down to an entry space that has a built-in table/shelf. Multiple hooks on the walls work well for hanging clothes. You can put your other gear in four drawers under the bed plus a narrow closet. The room has three opening portholes in the sleeping area and one in the bathroom.

Douglas Fir, on the top deck, has a window that does not open in the bedroom and a small opening porthole in the bathroom. The bed has two drawers under it, and there is a three-drawer bedside cabinet, small closet and multiple hooks.

Given their compact size and irregular shapes, cabins are meant for sleeping, showering and dressing rather than hanging out. No cabins are equipped for disabled travelers.

Bathrooms come in various sizes and shapes, and all are basic, having a shower and toilet. The sink may be in the bathroom or (in the three upper/lower berth cabins) in the sleeping area. The shower is square with a curtain, and there is always plenty of hot water. Amenities are also basic, including a liquid soap dispenser on the sink. Small bottles of body wash and shampoo in the shower are made by coastal First Nations people and smell of pine and spruce. There is no TV, phone, safe, mini-bar, bathrobe, hairdryer, hand lotion, conditioner or box of tissue. If you need any special toiletries or a hairdryer, bring them with you.

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