The “Inside” Story

Some people think that the only way you can truly enjoy a cruise is if you’re ensconced in a luxury suite with the three “B”s:  A balcony, a butler and a bathtub.  Not true.

I, personally, fell in love with cruising while occupying an inside cabin, the only category my travel companion and I could afford at 19 years of age.  

Today, the inside cabin remains the most economical way to cruise and has changed dramatically from the closet-like atmosphere that my friend and I endured at 19.  Many interior accommodations, like Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Studios,” are designed with solo travelers in mind and feature a special Studio Lounge for meeting and mingling with other Studio dwellers.  Some of Holland America’s interior staterooms measure a generous 200 square feet and some Royal Caribbean ships offer cabins with a window that overlooks the ship’s interior promenade while others feature a “virtual” balcony—an 82” LED high-definition screen that offers a real-time view of the outside world.  Disney offers family interior staterooms—164 square feet with a “bath and a half”—a toilet and sink in one bath; a shower, toilet and sink in the other.   

But before you book your inside cabin, here are some tips and tricks you might want to keep in mind—you might say it’s the “inside” scoop!

Going Solo?:  An inside cabin is best for solo travelers, but don’t let that stop you from inviting a friend—a good friend—along for the ride.  

Stay Tidy:  The cozy inside cabin demands a level of tidiness, particularly if you’re sharing with a partner or friend.  Pack a couple of magnetic hooks, multi-garment hangers, and a hanging shoe organizer to expand storage.  A cosmetic bag that may hooks onto the bathroom door frees up vanity space.

The Buddy System:  When sharing an inside cabin, organize “shifts” for showering and dressing.  While you are getting ready for dinner, your cabinmate may lounge at the pool for an extra hour or have a drink or two at a shipboard lounge until it’s his or her turn.

Bring Earplugs:  Face it:  your inside cabinmate might snore louder than the ship’s foghorn, so come prepared.  Foam earplugs are comfortable and effective not only against your snoring but also any howls from the bratty toddler throwing a tantrum on your flight.

Location, Location, Location:  Inside cabins are spread throughout the ship, giving guests an opportunity to select the location most important to them.  Worried about motion sickness?  Select a cabin midship on a lower deck.  

The Best Afternoon Naps:  Even the most effective black-out curtains can’t keep that streak of blinding Caribbean sun from peeking in.  Extinguish the lights in your inside cabin and you’ll enjoy your afternoon nap in complete darkness—pack a night light if you’d prefer a gentle glow.  

Take Advantage of Technology:  Inside cabins feature an interactive television just like every other cabin on the ship.  Set your TV to “View from the Bridge” before retiring and, when you wake, you’ll know if the sun has risen and what the weather is like outside.

As the occupant of an inside cabin, you won’t be hosting cocktail parties for newfound friends or looking forward to romantic room service dinners au deux.  But you’ll be able to enjoy all of the dining, entertainment, activities and destinations everybody else is.

And, thanks to your inside cabin’s reasonable fare, you’ll have a few extra bucks in your pocket for a spa treatment, specialty dining or a few rolls at the casino!

By Judi Cuervo

Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.