Everything to Know about Suite Cabins on a Cruise (Read Before Booking)

When it comes to cruising, there isn’t anything more luxurious than taking the trip in a suite cabin.

Suite cabins on a cruise can provide a much more luxurious experience while on the ship. There is lots to know before you book, however.

While most cruise cabins are small, suite cabins offer more space, more luxury, and a higher-end experience than what you’ll find with other rooms. Of course, all of that also comes with a higher price tag.

What you might not realize is that there is also more that goes along with these rooms on a cruise that you’ll want to know about before you book.

Suites Can Vary Widely (And That’s an Understatement)

When it comes to suites, one of the biggest differences from other cabins is just how broad the term “suite” can be. With interior or balcony cabins, sure there may be some differences, but they are largely the same.

Suites can have much bigger differences. A suite can encompass everything from what’s essentially a balcony room with a little more space, all the way to extravagant rooms with multiple bedrooms, sitting areas, full bathrooms with tubs, and even a jacuzzi on the balcony.

That’s why when considering this type of room, it will take some time to find the right space for your needs — especially on newer and larger ships where the differences between suites are more pronounced.

Cruise Suites Offer More Space Across the Board

Suites (like this one on Norwegian Joy) feature more space than your typical cabin. How much more will depend on the specific room you book. They can run up to thousands of square feet in size with multiple rooms.

While suites can vary widely, if there is one universal, it’s that you can expect more space. If you’ve cruised before, then you know that cruise cabins are relatively small. An interior room may be 140-160 square feet. Balcony cabins offer more space — usually around 180 square feet, plus the balcony.

Suite cabins are larger still. For example, on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, a junior suite starts at nearly 300 square feet plus about 65 square feet of balcony. The Royal Suite on the ship comes in at 1,260 square feet (seven times larger than a typical balcony cabin), with a 211 square foot balcony, and even its own piano. Some ships have rooms that are even larger.

In other words, if you’re sailing with more people or simply want some more elbow room, then a suite is likely for you.

Consider the Price Difference From Balconies

You likely already know that if you want a suite that you’re going to have to pony up more for the experience. But what you might not realize is that the price can vary just as much as the rooms.

For example, we found a short trip aboard Carnival Conquest starting at just $179 for an interior cabin (the cruise line’s current least expensive cruise). A balcony starts at $369 per person, and a suite for that same trip starts at $761 per person.

Norwegian Cruise Line offers Club Balcony Suites for just slightly over the cost of a balcony cabin, but suites in its exclusive Haven area can run thousands more.

And Royal Caribbean — which perhaps has the biggest variance in different suite offerings — sees interior cabins on some cruises run just a few hundred dollars per person, but suites running hundreds to several thousands more (depending on the type).

In other words, the suite life may be nice, but it carries a price tag.

Higher Gratuities Come With These Rooms

The benefit of a suite cabin isn’t just more space. Many also feature nice design such as this full bathroom overlooking the ocean.

One other area that you’ll see a higher expense? Most cruise lines charge more in daily gratuities for passengers sailing in a suite cabin versus a lower-tier room.

For example, NCL charges one of the highest gratuity rates — $20 per person, per day for Club Balcony Suites and below, and $25 per person, per day for room in The Haven and suites.

Royal Caribbean charges $16.00 per person, per day for most rooms but suites see a charge of $18.50 instead. That about 15% more.

And Carnival Cruise Line also charges $16.00 per person, per day for most cabins on its ships. Sail in a suite, however, and the price is bumped up to $18.00 per person every day.

Suites Might Not Be As Expensive For Larger Groups

If you think that sailing in a suite is simply about luxury, that’s not always the case. In some cases it can actually make a lot of sense.

Take a family that wants to sail together. While you can fit four people into a standard cabin, it’s certainly a tight fit. And if your family is larger, then you have to look at getting two rooms.

But with larger suites, there is the possibility that you can all travel together in the same room since the largest rooms can often sleep up to eight people. And while suites can carry a hefty price tag, if you have that many in one room, the price per person may not be as expensive as you think, especially if you compare it to the cost of booking two separate rooms.

Suites Come With a Host of Other Perks

Your suite will come with other perks, which will vary. They can include everything from your own hot tub to priority boarding to free drink packages on some cruise lines.

Of course, the big reason to book a suite is the room itself. It’s larger, more luxurious, and offers the best accommodations on the ship. But don’t think the benefits just end at the room. As an incentive, cruise lines offer up lots of perks for booking suites.

Now these perks will vary by line and even by room. However, generally you get a number of benefits such as priority check-in and debarkation, priority seating/reservations in restaurants, and things like robes for use on the ship.

Perks can also go above and beyond. Royal Caribbean’s “Royal Suite Class” can include meals at exclusive suite-class restaurants, included beverage packages, gratuities, wi-fi, and access to suite-only “neighborhoods” on the ship.

Other lines like NCL offer something similar with The Haven, which includes a private pool area, sun deck, and restaurant. You can even have your own butler and even a personal escort on and off the ship.

So yes, the price tag is higher, but so is the service.

Double Points in Many Loyalty Programs

Every cruise line has their own loyalty program. The rules are generally simple; you earn a “point” for every night that you sail. So sail a 7-day cruise, earn seven points.

If booking a suite, however, most lines double the amount of points you earn, including well-known brands like Princess, Royal Caribbean, and NCL.

For instance, Princess says on their website that if you book a suite “you’ll receive two cruise credits instead of one.” Norwegian also says that you “earn 1 additional point per night for booking a suite or The Haven.”

This means you can unlock higher loyalty tiers faster, giving you more perks on future cruises. So not only do you benefit from the current trip you sail in a suite, but you’ll continue to reap rewards on future cruises.

Suites May Not Be Worth it for Many Cruises

A space like this is wonderful, but may not be enjoyed that much on a short cruise. Longer trips are really where you get to take advantage of the benefits of suite life.

There’s no doubt that all things being equal, anyone would love to sail in a suite. All things are not equal, however. With the nice benefits of a suite on a cruise comes a higher price tag.

And truth be told, there are a number of cruises where it might not be worth it.

As one example, consider a short 3-4 day cruise with multiple ports of call. In this case, you’re likely to spend a lot of your time outside the cabin, exploring the ship and going ashore. In such a short window, you likely won’t have enough time to really enjoy the perks of booking a suite.

On longer trips (such as 6+ days), the math changes a bit. In this case you’re likely to have multiple days at sea along with more downtime giving you a chance to take advantage of the suite. In that case, if you have the means, then a suite may be for you.

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