What difference does the location of your stateroom make - on a moving ship more than you realize
Pete Peterson is our newest CruiseMates Moderator
New cruisers are always concerned about where on a ship they should get a cabin. Obviously, there's alot of options that go into answering that question. Most of the time they are concerned with three major factors; price, type of cabin, and motion sickness.
Budget and types of cabins are big factors, but rather easy choices to be made. Usually, the biggest concern is if they are going to get seasick. So I thought perhaps this might help you decide the best location on a ship to get your cabin.
Basically, a ship is affected by two motions; I like to call it 'rocking and rolling'. Think of it this way, the dynamics of a ship in water is affected by the waves either from the side or from the front/back.
The rolling motion is the movement of the ship where the waves are coming from the front or the back and the ship 'rolls' over the waves. Because of the propulsion of a ship through the water, this type of movement is going to be felt in the front of the ship more than anywhere else, especially if the waves are coming from the front. So in rough weather, the front of the ship is the least desirable place to be. The aft of the ship will feel some of the rolling motion, but not as much as the front, and the middle of the ship will feel this type of motion the least of the three sections. Plus, the aft of the ship will often feel more vibration from the propellers. Of course, this is becoming less of a problem with the new azipod propulsion systems that are commonplace on newer ships.
As for the rocking motion, this is caused by waves coming from the side of the ship and because of the way a ship rides in the water, the top part of a ship is more affected by this motion than the bottom of the ship. So the most desirable place to be on the ship for this type of motion is as low as you can get.
The absolute best cabin on a ship to be in to avoid any type of motion is low and middle.
With that said, normal operating procedures for ships dictate they try to alter their route so they go directly with the wind whenever possible. This creates a smoother ride and helps with fuel consumption. The next preferred course is directly into the wind, but this causes a higher fuel usage. They normally try to avoid cross winds because of the wind hitting a huge ship broadside tends to push it off course while the rocking motion is also less desirable than a rolling motion.
All modern cruise ships now have stabilizers they can deploy to help smooth out the ride. On the newer ships, they are computer controlled and do a wonderful job. Think of a stabilizer like wings on an airplane - when they are out, they help offset the rocking and rolling motion of the ship. However, when deployed, these stabilizers create a big drag, so they have to ramp up the propulsion system to compensate and this causes higher fuel consumption. This is why some cruise companies are less apt to deploy the stabilizers than some - Carnival is very slow to deploy them for this reason.
If you understand how all this works, then you begin to understand why they put certain venues in different areas of the ship. For example, you won't find the dining room in the front of a ship. They're always going to be in the middle or the back. Funny thing is, they always put the main show lounge in the front, so you can imagine how tough it can be for the performers when the ship is rolling alot.
Keep in mind that cabin price is always going to be controlled by demand. Because the front is the least desirable, this is where you'll always encounter the cheapest prices. The aft is the next least desirable, so you'll find the prices the same as the front or perhaps just a bit higher. Since the middle of the ship is the most desirable, this is where the prices are going to be the highest. The same holds true for cabins going from bottom to top. Those lowest will be the least expensive and the higher up you go, the higher the price.
Also, because of the design of ships, some locations will dictate more or less space in the cabin or the balcony. For example, often the aft cabins (those on the very back of the ship looking straight backwards) have bigger balconies. Of course, often these will also command a higher price. And some ships, like the Carnival Pride, you can get an oversize balcony without paying more if you study the deck plan carefully.
Sorry, didn't mean for this to turn into a dissertation on how a ship moves through the water and the affects of waves on the movement of the ship. But it's important to understand the dynamics so you can decide what's the best location on a ship for you, especially if you're concerned about how well you'll handle the motion.
I've heard many people say they've been on alot of boats and have never gotten seasick, so they don't see cruising on a big ship as a problem. This is one big misnomer for alot of people. The motion on a small boat is quick and jerky. The motion on a big ship is slow and methodical. Two entirely different types of motion and different people handle these differently. So just because you don't get seasick on one type does not necessarily mean the other type won't affect you.
I spent 6 years in the Navy and could tell you some pretty wild stories about being out in rough weather. Those ships are built for speed, not for comfort, so when the seas get nasty, that's when the fun really begins! And because of the over-dramatic nature of the beast, we learned very quickly where to be and where not to be when being thrown around. Needless to say, I'd much rather be on a luxury cruise ship anytime!
Anyway, I hope this helps you in deciding where you'd like to be on a ship when booking your cabin.
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