Before joining a river cruise in India recently, I travelled together with my fellow passengers on a bone rattling bus for several hours. Seated beside me in the front seat was a man by the name of Dennis who was also travelling solo. When we finally arrived at the jetty, Dennis was insistent that he go on ahead with our luggage while we waited behind for the boat to return. Later, as I entered my cabin, there was Dennis carefully placing one foot in front of the other. Dennis, may I ask what you are doing? He was making sure that the cabin he had chosen was larger than everyone else's and so far he had measured most of them. That provided him with the reassurance he was in need of that he had done better than the rest of us.
Dennis, I said, had you looked at the company website, you would have seen that there is a deck plan. You would have noticed that all cabins are identical in size except for yours and the one beside it at the stern, which are indeed a little larger. But Dennis, when you choose a cabin, don't just rely on what you see. The downside for you Dennis, is that you will feel continual vibration as well as smell diesel and cooking fumes. For you Dennis the bone rattling journey you just experienced will continue for the next two weeks. This is because your cabin is directly above the engine room and the kitchen, so you will not only shake, it will be smelly!
The process of finding the right cabin requires some effort and thought about what is important to you. It also requires you to use all your senses.
Consider the floor plan including the bedding configuration and bathroom layout, the square footage of the cabin, the level you want to be on, your view including window size – portholes, standard size or floor to ceiling and any obstructions to clear sight lines such as hull, lifeboats and equipment but importantly, look at proximity to what might cause noise, vibration and motion. You won't want a cabin below a dance floor, near the anchor, tenders, galley, too close to restaurants or alongside lifts or stairwell will you? If you suffer from motion sickness, a cabin mid ship and low is best. If privacy is important avoid cabins that open onto a promenade deck. If you choose one with a balcony, consider if you will have privacy or if you will be in full view. And then there's the itinerary and direction. Will your ship be hugging a coastline? If so, you'll probably want a room facing land. Do you enjoy sunsets? Then you will want a cabin that faces west. On an ocean crossing, where winds are high, a balcony will be used less often than on calmer seas or rivers.
Think also of proximity to what is important to you. The spa, the deck, the boutiques, restaurants, library - choose a cabin that is close to what matters.
On one cruise I went on for example, Jim suffered from insomnia. He chose a cabin alongside the library, so that he could go next door and read on waking and his wife was not disturbed. Also consider how much your cabin will be used. If just for a bed to sleep in, interior cabins offer great savings, but for me, they make me feel just a little too anxious. Also consider price differential and whether it is warranted.
In the case of my cruise with Dennis, cabins on the higher level were more expensive, though I found little to distinguish them. Cabins can vary significantly within the same price category. For the next two weeks Dennis told me about how I had unintentionally ruined his holiday.
Let's hope Dennis you are reading my blog to ensure you get the right cabin next time!
Have you got any tips for getting the right cabin?