Royal Caribbean is known for being a family cruise line, so which family-friendly cruise cabin should you pick for your vacation?
From time to time, I answer questions our readers have sent in here on the blog so that everyone can benefit from the advice.
We want to book a cruise for my family of 5, but we can't fit in one room. What's our best choice for a cruise ship cabin for my family? - Christy D.
The best cabin for any family will depend on a few factors in order to narrow down the choices.
Every cabin on a cruise ship has a capacity limit to it, which means a family of five or six will have less choices if you want to stay in the same room.
In addition, your budget will play a role in picking the right room for you.
A good starting point is to decide if you want to have everyone in the same cabin, or get separate cabins.
Royal Caribbean offers family-sized staterooms on many of its ships, usually with the word "family" as a prefix to the stateroom category title.
These rooms are designed for 5 or 6 guests, and come with more living space.
With extra beds and square footage, these family cruise ship cabins have what you would need to fit everyone in, and will cost less than a suite.
There can be two major downsides to these family rooms: the location tends to be at the very front or very back of the ship, which makes for longer walks to the elevators, as well as potentially a higher sensation of movement during rocky sea conditions.
In addition, many of these cabins only have one bathroom. Not every ship offers family cabins, and there are only a few to begin with.
Whereas family cabins are essentially larger standard cabins, the family-connected staterooms are individual rooms that can be booked together and have common doors removed to create a larger room.
Family-connected staterooms were introduced on the Quantum Class cruise ships, allow you connect three different staterooms to form one large shared space. That also means three bathrooms for one space.
If this sounds like a great option, the issue may be simply finding them. As far as I can tell, they are only available on Quantum Class ships.
Suites are always going to be the biggest rooms on any cruise ship, and that extra living space can be very attractive for families.
Not only can suites accommodate 5 or 6 people, some of the larger suites can fit even more. The most expensive suite on Royal Caribbean can fit as many as 11 guests.
Of course, we're talking about suites, so this will not be an economical choice for many families.
Suite prices can vary significantly, but they are rarely a cheap option. Some families will split the cost to save on costs.
Rather than putting everyone in one room, why not get multiple cabins?
Booking more than one room is usually not as expensive as it sounds, especially compared to a suite.
Royal Caribbean offers connecting cabins that have a common door inside, which means you can open or close that door as you see fit.
Even if you don't book a connecting room, on some ships you can open up the balcony divider and get a common walkway between the rooms at that juncture.
If you don't need a connecting door, booking two (or more) cabins near each other without a common door opens up all sorts of possibilities that can really save money. Parents can book a balcony cabin, while their older children stay in an inside cabin across the hall.
Connecting cabins can be more economical, and provide one full bathroom per cabin.
Another advantage is there can be more separation between each cabin, since the connecting door can be closed. This is is especially helpful with young children who need quiet and darkness to sleep.
The downside to booking more than one room is connecting rooms are limited, especially if you book close to the sailing date.
In addition, booking more than one room will not get you the benefits of a suite.
Which should you pick?
Often the decision is made for you depending your budget and ship you sail on, but assuming you have a wide budget and lots of room choices, there are pros and cons to each option.
I generally recommend families get two connecting cabins because it provides separation between the rooms, and two full bathrooms. It's usually cheaper than a single-cabin approach, and gives parents what they want: to be in the same room as their kids, without having to sleep in the same room as their kids.
If you have older kids, or traveling on a multigen trip, being able to book multiple rooms that do not have to be connecting/adjoining will save a great deal of money.
Suites are fantastic, and if you can afford one, it's difficult to not enjoy all those wonderful amenities, especially on Royal Caribbean's Oasis or Quantum Class ships. Those ships have the Royal Suite Class amenities for suite guests, which means a higher level of service and perks.