The cabins on Arabella are tight quarters, and the crew owns it. "Anybody find the cabin too big for 'em?" Captain Sunderland asked at a meet and greet our first afternoon onboard. "Want an upgrade?"
All 20 cabins, each with a porthole window, offer the same amenities but vary in square footage. The largest cabins are midship, the smaller ones aft, as the ship tapers toward the stern. No cabins are designed to accommodate disabled travelers.
The largest staterooms, with queen beds, are 80 square feet, including the bathrooms. Unlike the other cabins, these have tiny closets. The 65-square-foot cabins each house a double bed or upper and lower berths. The aft cabins are either 55-square-foot upper/lower configurations or small 50-square-foot doubles. To put it into perspective, the actual floor space that is walkable in the two smallest cabins is three feet by two feet -- essentially the size of a large welcome mat.
We stayed in one of the larger doubles, and while I was stunned at its small size when we first walked in, I quickly got used to it. We were able to stow all our gear on the shelves and in the four drawers below our berth. (Note: Unlike those in the other staterooms, the upper/lower berths aft have only two drawers.) A clothes hook above the foot of the bed can take up to eight hangers. Because storage is at such a premium on this ship, Arabella wisely recommends that passengers bring soft duffel-type luggage. Each cabin received new bed linens and carpet during dry dock at the end of 2010, which gives that personal space a fresh new look.
Each midship stateroom has a small sink and medicine cabinet, located in the cabin itself with a toilet and shower in the bathroom. Aft cabins have sinks in the bathrooms, as well. Shampoo, conditioner and soaps are provided by Essential Oils, a family-owned California company known for its natural and organic products.
A heads-up: If the boat is pitching while you shower, water runs the full length of the bathroom -- and sometimes settles there. If you've got socks and shoes on, it's best to get barefoot before using the toilet.
Cabin amenities include satellite TV, private climate control and a hair dryer. You won't find a clock, fridge or safe. And there's no room key -- unless you ask for one.