Saturday, August 16, 2008

Carnival Cruise Lines To Recategorize Staterooms

When Carnival Cruise Lines launched the “Fun Ship” concept with an aging ocean liner they rechristened Mardi Gras, deck plans were a crazy quilt of irregularly-shaped, colored boxes. Cabin selection was something of a crap shoot, with very few cabins being identical, even if they were in the same category and commanded the same fare.

However, with prefabrication being the norm for modern cruise ship cabins, we’ve come to count on them being “standardized” within various configurations (inside, outside, balcony, suite). It’s been pretty simple to know what you're getting when you select a Carnival stateroom—nearly all outside cabins are alike (the exception being some cabins far forward that conform to the shape of the ship’s bow and have portholes instead of picture windows), as are balcony cabins, etc. And for the past two decades it’s also been pretty simple to read Carnival’s deck plans and know that all but a few cabins would be nearly indistinguishable and, depending on the deck, they would all be priced the same. That isn’t the case on some other cruise lines, where side-by-side cabins are assigned different fare categories, even if the cabin configurations are identical.

Take Princess Cruises, for example. On most decks, accommodations located mid-ship are priced higher than identical cabins located fore and aft. Generally, the fare category for their mid-ship cabins is the same as identical cabins located forward and aft on the next higher deck. The higher you go, the more you pay to see the sea (think of it as anti-steerage). Confusing? Yes, but there’s a reason. Just like in real estate, it’s all about location. Accommodations mid-ship are perceived as experiencing less motion than those located near the bow and stern. Also, cabins far forward can be noisy when bow thrusters are engaged or the anchor is lowered and aft cabins can suffer from engine vibration. An exception to the rule is aft-facing balcony cabins—due to the larger size of their balconies and the view overlooking the ship’s wake, they have always been considered premium and priced accordingly.

Stick with me, we’re getting to the part where picking a cabin on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship is going to be a bit more complex. That’s because Carnival has announced an extensive stateroom recategorization that will eventually encompass the entire “Fun Ship” fleet. Under the reclassification of stateroom categories, Carnival’s accommodations will now be categorized based on a variety of location factors such as mid-ship, aft, and forward, as well as proximity to key public areas and specific deck.

“The change more clearly defines our available stateroom categories based on location and features and will enable guests to easily identify the category that best suits their specific needs and preferences,” said Lynn C. Torrent, Carnival’s senior vice president of sales and guest services.

Carnival Valor is the first ship to feature the new accommodation categories, effective on Monday, Aug. 18. The balance of the fleet will be recategorized by the end of 2008. Cabin assignments and pricing on existing reservations will not be affected. For more information—and to see Carnival Valor's revised deck plan—visit Happily, the fare differentials to book mid-ship vs. fore or aft only amount to $10 for outside cabins and $20 for balcony cabins located on the same deck and “guaranteed” categories (you select the configuration and Carnival assigns your cabin based on availability) are still bargain priced.

To find the perfect accommodations for your needs, there’s even more to consider. For help, see Select Your Cruise Ship Cabin on

No comments: