One of the things we mulled when we booked our Thanksgiving Cruise was which side of the boat to stay on. Port? Starboard? What about an aft cabin… one on the back of the boat?
For our honeymoon cruise to Alaska, it was an easy choice. We were sailing northbound along the Inside Channel, so we wanted to be on the starboard (right for those not nautically inclined) so we could see the coastline as we sailed.
For this cruise, we decided to try something different… We decided to stay in an aft cabin. We were thinking it would avoid getting massive amounts of sunlight in the mornings and provide a less windy balcony for reading and hanging out.
I started researching what the experience of staying in an aft cabin was like and was not able to find much of anything online… a few forum posts, but nothing very detailed. We decided it was worth a shot and, if nothing else, we would be able to write about the experience and share it with our readers.
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Aft Cabin Location
Being at the aft of the boat was an advantage, location-wise. Since there are not as many cabins in the aft section of the boat, there is a lot less traffic and noise in the hallways.
Our aft cabin was in the corner, which cut down on traffic and noise even more. It made for a quieter experience.
Another advantage to being in the aft section is the proximity to the aft stairs and lifts (even though we never used them). It made it very easy to navigate the boat.
We chose an aft cabin on Deck 9, but in hindsight, we probably should have chosen a cabin on Deck 7, which splits the difference between the major venues on Decks 3, 4 and 5 and the pool and gym deck on Deck 11.
The Aft Cabin
The aft cabin itself was not really any different from any of the other cruise ship cabins we have stayed in. There was a bed, a couch, a small desk/dresser, closets, bathroom, etc. It was comfortable and not too cramped.
The one thing to note on our particular cabin was the round window instead of a full glass door/window. This was due to the location at the port (left) corner of the aft cabins and the slope of the ship’s bulkheads (framing). We could still see out of the window very easily, but it did cut down on the amount of visibility. Other aft cabins would not have that issue.
The balcony was the major difference and there were both advantages and disadvantages.
The balcony was larger than balconies we have had on previous boats. It included a lounge chair, which the others did not have room for.
The balcony of our aft cabin was an odd shape, which made stretching out and getting comfortable more difficult.
The contour of the back of the ship also made for less overhead coverage on the balcony. That’s perfect for the sun worshippers out there, as you have a lot more direct sunshine. Bonnie, due to her fair complexion and aversion to skin damage, is not a sun worshipper. That made the lack of cover a bit problematic.
Aft cabins also get a lot less breeze, so it got hot sunbathing on the balcony pretty quickly. For some folks, that would be an advantage, but for me, it was a disadvantage.
The other drawback of the lack of overhead cover was the lack of privacy. If you walked to the rail of the balcony and turned back toward the boat, you could see the windows of the Windjammer Cafe. Folks eating could easily look down on our balcony.
For some people, this would not be an issue, but I don’t want to get dressed just to walk out on the balcony. No one wants to see my lack of dress when they are eating breakfast.
Every cruise is different in terms of orientation to the sun first thing in the morning. We tried to work it out to where we didn’t get the blazing sun in the morning on the last day. We figured after five days of getting up early for shore excursions, sleeping in would be nice.
It didn’t work.
We awoke to almost direct sun coming in the windows. Our planning did not account for the sun being more southeast than directly east. We also did not realize the slightly northwesterly course of the boat.
Would We Stay in an Aft Cabin Again?
Honestly, probably not. We would probably not book an aft cabin again due to the balcony. The drawbacks of lack of shade, breeze and privacy are just not what we were looking for.
I would not dissuade anyone from giving an aft cabin a try. We do not regret our decision. We’re just not sure we would choose it again.