Any cabin that is under an "active" area of the ship will be noisy. An active are of the ship would be a galley, disco, dining room, pool or other public area. The galley would be the worst.
Also cabins that are in the front and close to the anchor can be noisy when the anchor is dropped and if close to the bow can be noisy. Cabins in the stern can have wake, thruster and engine noise. I personally LOVE stern, balcony cabins. The noise is not that bad, I find it soothing but if any noise bothers you than it's not for you.
Mid ship cabins are the most quite. Try to get one away from the elevators and any high traffic areas.
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"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me
I try to find a cabin with guest cabins both above and below, for the least noise. Now, you can still get noisy neighbors anywhere on the ship, but thats rare, only happened to us once, but it was awful!
We were midship, fairly low deck, and the noise that kept me up was the creaking on the nights that we were going a little faster to make up time. However, the low hum of the engines actually helped cover my husband's snoring.
When we got home, I got a white noise machine that works wonders -- his snoring rarely wakes me now. We plan to take the noise machine on our next cruise and then maybe the creaking sounds won't bother me either. So thanks to the ship's engine noise, I'm now sleeping better than I have in years!
Grand Princess 11/05
Dawn Princess 8/06
The noisiest cabin we had was on the Carnival Conquest - we were right above the teen club - it does not close down at 11pm as we were lead to believe - but carries on until 1 in the morning. There is music and a VJ/DJ several times a day as well. Not much bothers us - but it was awful.
I would guess that the room nearest the purser's desk would be the loudest. Especially near the end of the trip when shrieking guests lungfully disputing their bills would provide unwanted and distracting noise.
In addition to making sure that there are passenger cabins above and below you, also make sure that there are passenger cabins on each side of you.
Yes, you could get a noisy neighbor (I only have once), but worse yet was our cabin with a storage? closet next door. There obviously were shelves inside with loose items on them. Add the rough seas and something rolled back and forth and back and forth all night long!
I now always always make sure that the space on each side is a cabin and not a "blank space" - Beware!!