As a first-time cruiser, it’s easy to dismiss looking to book a cruise ship suite, compared to a standard cabin, the immediate assumption being that it will blow your vacation budget instantly. These days that is not always true. Look a little closer, and you may find that there are times when a suite is the best choice.
All suite prices are not created equal.
First, let’s look at suite pricing. Take, for example, Royal Caribbean and the advertised 7-night Cabo, Vallarta, and Mazatlan Cruise leaving Los Angeles in January 2023. The lowest fare in a balcony cabin is $1019 per person (based on double occupancy). In contrast, a suite is advertised as $1399 per person (guaranteed suite category, which means the cruise line chooses your cabin location for you).
That’s a difference of $380 per person or just over $54 per person per night. So what does your $54 extra get you? Your stateroom is around 70 sq feet (approx. six sq meters) larger with a seating area, often a small couch and chair. The balcony is about 4 sq feet (approx. 0.5 sq meters) larger.
Is the extra space worth it to you? Remember, there are numerous suite categories and options across all cruise lines. All offer various cabin sizes and perks and different price points.
Here are 5 good reasons that may persuade you to book a cruise ship suite.
1. More space means less clutter and more maneuverability
A larger cabin implies that there is more space to move around. Let’s face it; cabins are not large. Standard cabins give you enough room to move around the bed, get to the desk, fridge, and wardrobes, store away everything on your packing list, and not much else.
A suite gives you a seating area, and while it may be small, those extra square meters make a big difference to your comfort. Not to mention mobility around the room. This may be particularly important to you if you are traveling with a friend or if you are more than two in your family sharing a cabin. And if you are two adults and two teenagers traveling, then that extra space is worth it.
2. A cruise ship suite to fit your family’s needs
If your children or parents traveling with you want to share the same living space and you are a party of more than four people, then a suite is your best option. Large suites accommodate up to 8 guests. Some rooms are on multiple levels, with the feeling of a small apartment.
Some suites will have an additional bathroom and eating area so meals can be delivered to your room if you wish. And when the cost is shared, you may find your per person price is worth the extra for the amenities a suite this size offers you. It’s a perfect choice for a multi-generation cruise.
3. Priority boarding and tendering
No matter how often you have been on a cruise ship, cruise embarkation day can be stressful. Rather like skipping the line at an amusement park, priority boarding, which is included as a perk with your suite booking, saves all that are waiting around at the port.
Instead, you get on board quickly and down to the pool area to relax even quicker.
When it comes to leaving the ship each time you are in port, this is where priority tendering can be valuable. Each cruise ship has a specific time it will spend in port. Most often, you arrive early, around 7 am. Your ship will drop anchor off-shore at smaller ports where the ship is too large to dock. You will then be tendered to shore in a small boat, is small parties of around 40 to 60 people at a time, sometimes more.
This can take time, and if you are unlucky, you may not reach shore with the chance to start exploring your destination until around 10 or 11 am, shortening your day. If you are a cruise ship suite guest you will be first on that boat in the morning with priority tendering. This way, you have the whole day ahead of you before you make it back to your ship before it leaves the port.
4. Priority Dining and entrance to a club lounge
Some cruise lines offer evening dining at two specific seatings—the early seating, often around 6 pm. And the late seating, at around 8.30 pm. And then there is the option of choosing yourself. Royal Caribbean calls this My Time Dining.
Other cruise lines have entirely flexible dining options; you just turn up when you like or book the time you want. Norwegian Cruise Lines offer this with their Free at Sea concept.
So what happens when you want to book a specific dining time or a specialty restaurant? Suite guests are offered priority booking, so you are never disappointed.
In addition, you have access to a club lounge for suite-only guests. This is a great escape from busy areas that all guests can use, whatever cabin category they choose. Think of it as a private lounge with a limited number of fellow suite guests.
5. In-suite dining and complimentary room service
Sometimes after a busy shore excursion, you want to eat in the peace of your cabin. Do this as a suite guest at the time it suits you. It’s ideal if you don’t want to mingle at the crowded buffet or in the lively main dining room.
It can also be a good option for families traveling with young children. In-suite dining means kids do not need to sit in their place while you enjoy your meal, and it can result in all-around stress relief when days packed full of activities and tiredness sets in.
With complimentary room service, a cruise ship suite experience gives you the ultimate vacation feeling of having that extra pampering without any effort.