The size of a cabin is described in terms of square feet. This number may not mean a lot unless you want to mark it out on your floor at home. But to give you an idea: 120-square-feet and under is low end and cramped, 180-square-feet is the typical size of your average big ship stateroom, and suites on luxury ships start around 250-square-feet and go up from there. The current reigning king of the suite is Regent Seven Seas: Their new Seven Seas Explorer has the largest seagoing suite in the world, measuring an astonishing 3,875 square feet, the equivalent of 21. 5 standard 180-square-foot big ship staterooms put together.
To complicate things further, Carnival Breeze also offers two categories of Aft Extended Balconies (8M and 8N) that feature abnormally large balconies and are situated overlooking the ship's wake, and a Premium Vista Balcony known as Category 9C. And that's all without even looking at the 10 categories of interior staterooms, five categories of oceanview staterooms, and three different suite categories. Determining what kind of stateroom you want then consulting a deck plan is a very important step in choosing your cruise vacation. We've highlighted the Carnival Breeze deck plans as an example, but every single cruise line uses this same methodology.
There's no rule of thumb for which stateroom to book: Generally speaking, the one that offers the best mix of price and features is the right way to go. You'll also find you will tend to adjust your style of cruising based on the type of stateroom you've chosen. If, for example, you pick a more economical inside stateroom that lacks a window, you might find you're only in your cabin to change and sleep. Book a more expensive (and spacious) stateroom or suite and you'll want to adjust your cruising style to linger in your own private oasis.
Luxury suites are usually located on the ship's uppermost decks and the swankiest ones can be apartment-sized. They afford some of the best views (and largest balconies) on the entire vessel, along with some of the best amenities. On the downside, the most stable cabins during rough seas are those in the middle and lower parts of the ship. And, not surprisingly, these lavish accommodations come with the highest price tag and tend to sell out first.
On small ships carrying fewer than 100 guests, cabins range from spartan to lavish; size alone isn't a good predictor of amenities. Generally, the difference lies in the orientation of the cruise line: Those promising a real adventure experience tend to feature somewhat utilitarian cabins, while lines that focus on the private yacht experience will pull out all the stops in terms of luxury. Some cruise lines, like Un-Cruise Adventures, make up for their more basic accommodations by offering complimentary beverages (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic) and other luxury-style amenities on certain vessels.
Aboard both large and small ships, keep in mind that the most expensive and least expensive cabins tend to sell out fast. Also, just as with real estate, it's sometimes better to take a smaller cabin on a nicer ship than a bigger cabin on a less pleasant ship.