Picture this: you’ve been saving money for the past few months to take your family on a Caribbean cruise to make for their most memorable vacation yet. You get in touch with a cruise line consultant and are on your way to making your dream vacation possible, but you pause and ask yourself: should I book cabins in the front or back of the ship?
Choosing between the front/forward and the back/aft cabin boils down to the experience you want onboard. Forward cabins offer more excitement in terms of viewing the next port destination and any form of entertainment taking place at the front of the ship. On the other hand, aft cabins are quiet, relaxing, and more prominent.
Since cruise ships are slower than airplanes, the travel time from port to port can span a few days. That said, it’s fair to say that a significant percentage of your vacation time is spent at sea, making it all the more imperative to book a suitable cabin for you and your family/group.
So, let’s break down everything you need to know to decide whether to stay in the front or back of a cruise ship.
How Does Forward Differ From Aft Cabins?
Before delving into how both kinds of cabins differ across different factors, it’s important to reiterate the nomenclature. Forward cabins are situated at a ship’s forefront and often face the bow. Conversely, aft cabins are built into the rear of the ship, at the direction of its stern. Now, let’s take a look at how they are different.
1. Pricing Of Cabins For Cruise
Forward cabins are generally more affordable than aft cabins. However, this does not necessarily mean that aft cabins are better for you. Again, one should consider the kind of onboard experience they seek before deciding which cabin to go for.
As for why forward cabins are cheaper than aft cabins, cruise lines claim that the latter is more sought after in online and offline bookings.
2. Other Cabin Factors
Besides pricing, forward cabins differ from their aft counterparts when considering other factors. These factors include:
- The motion experienced in the cabin.
- The view from the cabin.
- The size of the cabin.
- The level of noise heard within the cabin.
- Motion and Stability
One of the biggest concerns inexperienced travelers often have with cruising, in general, is motion sickness. Suppose you’re the type who often gets seasick. In that case, choosing between a forward or aft cabin is crucial, particularly if you’re cruising during hurricane or rainy season when you can expect rough water conditions.
Since forward cabins are closer to the front, they are generally more prone to the pitching motion of the ship. As such, the forward cabins face the most headwinds and rolling waves, experiencing vertical rocking-like movement that can trigger motion sickness.
Conversely, aft cabins are towards the ship’s rear, where you can find the ship’s propellers and stabilizers. As a result, they are often more stable. The only kind of movement that you may feel from an aft cabin is the engine’s vibration.
3. The View From Your Cruise Ship Cabin
Since you will spend most of your time traveling by sea, time passes slowly. As a result, you will often need something to do as time passes. You might resort to having your own sources of entertainment, engaging with entertainment provided by the cruise line, or simply soaking in the view.
Both forward and aft cabins offer unique views of their own, so if you’re very picky about the kind of view you should be getting, keep reading.
Although forward cabins offer the usual scenic view of the ocean, things start to amp up once you catch sight of the upcoming port destination. Also, seeing what the ship captain sees increases the anticipation for your next destination and everything you look forward to experiencing there.
On the other hand, although you can’t see your destination from an aft cabin, you can see the ship’s wake, which is just as hypnotizing. Given that aft cabins are usually quiet and peaceful, watching the churning sea below as the foam stretches out to the faraway horizon can be therapeutic.
4. The Size Of Cabins At The Front
Cruise ships have an elongated hull with a pointed bow (front) and a relatively wider squared stern, making them asymmetrical when viewed sideways. As such, forward and aft cabins vary in size. If size matters to you because you plan to bring lots of luggage or share a cabin, you are in for a treat!
Generally, forward cabins are smaller than their aft counterparts since they are at the forefront of the cruise ship, which is narrower, tapering towards the ship’s bow. However, since there is no standard size that cruise lines have to follow, there are also variations amongst forward cabins, so you should ideally browse through them all to see which ones are for you.
Conversely, aft cabins are larger than forward cabins as the stern is much broader than the bow, allowing for more spacious layouts, including larger living areas, bathrooms, and balconies. However, don’t forget that you must account for this added benefit in the cabin’s cost.
It is the reason aft cabins are more expensive.
5. Noise Levels
Given how you’ll spend most of your time on the ship, every minute you spend must be most suitable for you. In other words, you should account for the experience you want on board. Whether you prefer quiet or energetic and full of entertainment, it is up to you as noise levels vary across forward and aft cabins.
As one may expect, forward cabins tend to experience higher noise levels. Apart from the unavoidable noise sources, such as the engine, thrusters, wind noise, and waves (crashing against the hull), any form of entertainment hosted at the front of the ship does not go unnoticed by passengers in the forward cabin.
If you’re the kind of person who is not bothered too much by noise and can work around it with earbuds and whatnot, you won’t have to opt for the quieter aft cabins. However, if you need to do so, don’t hesitate, as it is imperative to minimize such inconveniences to ensure a smooth onboard experience.
Remember that, amongst aft cabins, the higher the deck at which the cabin is, the quieter it becomes.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Forward Cabin
Now that we have explored the differences between forward and aft cabins, let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of forward cabins. Remember that if the benefits appeal to your sense of accommodation and the drawbacks don’t bother you, you may want to stay in front of a cruise ship.
Advantages Of A Forward Cabin
The View Of The Approaching Port Of Call
One of the best aspects of a forward cabin is its view. Regardless of whether or not you are heading to your next destination or back from it, you will always be able to see the upcoming port of call upon approaching.
After seeing the endless ocean for so many hours, seeing even a glimpse of the port will excite the anticipation of docking shortly.
Aside from that, if you’re the kind of person with a lot of energy to expend, then the front of the ship is mainly where all the entertainment takes place. For instance, cruise ship theaters tend to be hosted towards the bow of the ship, meaning you can attend both evening shows and afternoon lectures from the comfort of your cabin.
Forward cabins are generally much more affordable than aft cabins, as the latter is highly sought after by those looking to prioritize quietness. Thus, aft cabins tend to sell out quickly at open bookings. If you are a little late to the booking, you are almost always guaranteed to find unbooked forward cabins.
Disadvantages Of A Forward Cabin
Forward cabins are far from perfect, as they come with their problems. However, if you can handle these problems, it is not a bad bargain, considering the cheaper rates, the ease of access as far as entertainment is concerned, and the stunning panoramic view when approaching a port of call.
More Intense Motion
If you’re the kind of person who gets seasick quite easily or is inexperienced in cruising (in which case, you will likely get seasick), steer clear of forward cabins. Forward cabins experience the most motion due to headwinds and waves that crash against the ship’s hull, all the more during the hurricane or rainy season when the seas are harsh.
Forward cabins are generally much noisier than aft cabins due to the different sources of sound they are close to. These include sounds from the anchor and bow thrusters, noise from the bustling engine, and any large-scale entertainment like theaters.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of An Aft Cabin
After reviewing forward cabins, let’s look into the pros and cons of aft cabins in just as much detail. It is important to remember that even though aft cabins are generally more sought after, that does not mean they will be most suitable for you.
Advantages Of An Aft Cabin
While aft cabins don’t offer the stunning view of an ever-growing port of call as the cruise ship approaches, they show us the peaceful view of the ship’s wake. While it does not induce any particular sense of anticipation, it does the job if you want to relax with light music.
It Is More Relaxing And Spacious
The peace that aft cabins offer due to their position far away from the noisy bow of the ship also adds to their appeal. Additionally, their spaciousness, allowing more luggage and personal space, makes them the most sought-after cabins on any cruise ship.
Disadvantages Of An Aft Cabin
Higher Demand And Increased Cost
Aft cabins don’t have many cons, if we’re being honest, aside from the lack of affordability and availability. Given how high in demand aft cabins tend to be on cruises, they are just as expensive; the worst part is that they almost always get sold out, sparing less time for someone to save up for them.
Vibrations Due To The Engine
While most people will not experience motion sickness in aft cabins, especially those at the higher decks, those who are super sensitive could still be at risk. The reason is that should the engine be closer to the ship’s rear; one can still feel the vibrations even in aft cabins.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I See My Cabin In Advance?
Yes, there are a few ways to see your cabin in advance. First, the official website of your cruise line should have general layouts of your cabin. Aside from that, since vlogging is very usual on cruises, you can also find tour videos of the ship on YouTube.
Lastly, if you’re willing to spend some money, services like Cruise Deck Plans get you both pictures and videos of your cabin.
Will My Cruise Ship Leave If I Don’t Make It On Time?
Yes, regardless of the cabin you have booked, because the cruise ship is on a tight schedule. So you should conform to that and be present at the reported time. Otherwise, the cruise ship will sail without you because many other passengers are eager to get going.
Hence, it would help to manage your time diligently, particularly by leaving time buffers to account for any unforeseen circumstances.
Do Cruises Have Room Service?
Regardless of what kind of cabin you have, whether forward or aft, room service is available on cruises. However, whether or not room services soak up extra charges or remain completely free depends on the cruise line.
Thus, feel free to contact a cruise line consultant to clarify the context of your cruise.
When booking a cruise, an important consideration is deciding which kind of cabin to get: forward cabins at the front of a cruise ship or aft cabins at the back of a cruise ship.
With a complete picture of both forward and aft cabins, we hope you can choose between them and have a spectacular time on your upcoming cruise!
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