What to Expect on a River Cruise: Cabins

 Gullveig Explorer Suite

How do cabins on ships compare those on ships? Will I have as much choice in cabins on a as I do on an ?

Cabins on ships can vary widely from . One thing that is different from their counterparts is that you won't find inside cabins on ; all staterooms have at least a window.

Cabins on vessels tend be slightly smaller than their counterparts because ships themselves are much smaller. They have be that way because in Europe, vessels must be able fit through narrow locks and canals, and under bridges.

Standard cabins in Europe run between 150 and 170 square feet, with suites around 220 square feet. Some also have single cabins, which measure around 130 square feet. Ironically, in , where ships are very with 50 passengers or less, cabins are often larger at 220 square feet.

In general, you'll find fewer categories of cabins on ships. Most in Europe only have four classes: window only or " view," balcony, balcony and suites, although there are some variations.

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On Critic's message boards, I see people talking about "aquarium class." What is that?

Aquarium class is a humorous term for lower deck cabins that fall below waterline. These cabins have a window, often high on the wall, that lets in light. But you shouldn't expect have a view from it unless you stand on a chair. You also cannot open these windows. (If you did, you'd find yourself pretty wet!)

One exception this is found on 's newer ships: Inspire, Savor, Grace and Joy. These ships have Loft staterooms that essentially put the seating area of the lower deck cabins on a walk-up landing area in front of the window. The windows in these rooms are also positioned high enough that they can be opened let in fresh air.

What's a balcony?

, , , , , , and all offer rooms with balconies, which are sliding doors that open let in air. You can't walk out on these balconies, although sometimes the put tables and chairs in front them so you can feel like you're outside. There's also a railing so you won't plunge into the water.

 '  Balcony Suites

What other kinds balconies do ships have?

In many its cabins, has an expanded variation on balconies called "open air balconies." This means that door slides entire length room; again, you can't step outside though.

and have something similar on their ships, which they call "panorama balconies"; instead sliding open like a door, windows lower with a push a button.

I want a "real" walkout veranda. Which have those?

On its newest ships, has "twin balcony" staterooms, which combine a balcony off living area and an outdoor balcony where you can step out off bedroom.

On its Longships, has a wide selection balcony staterooms where there's room for a table and chair. also has some "step out" balconies on its ships.

Keep in mind that a real balcony isn't as always desirable on a as it is on an . For one thing, balconies cut into room's square footage, so you are sacrificing precious space sit outdoors. Also, weather in Europe can be very changeable, particularly in the shoulder seasons. For a Christmas , you aren't going want a balcony at all; it's simply too cold!

Do any ships have suites?

Yes, although as in , you'll want study cabin configurations carefully make sure you're getting a true two-room suite; many staterooms booked as suites are simply larger and don't have separate bedrooms and living rooms.

On "Suite Ships," all cabins are called suites. But even its 300-square-foot Suite doesn't have a separate living area. Ditto suites on and .

On , bedrooms in 360-square-foot Balcony Suite and 475-square-foot One Bedroom Suite are separated from living area. Because all cabins on ships have glass-enclosed lounge areas that can open up as balconies, they do have the separation between living area and sleeping area that you expect from a suite (as does sister ). On 's "-Ships," bedroom is separated from living room with a sliding door in one-bedroom Owners Suite. has a true Owners Suite as well (at 330 square feet). 

's "Super Ships" each have a 401-square-foot Suite with a separate living area; suites themselves are only one room (although they're fairly spacious at 305 square feet). The 's other ships do not have separate living and sleeping areas in any cabins.

On 's Longships, you'll find Explorer Suite, which -- at 445 square feet -- is one largest on ships. These staterooms do have the bedroom walled off from the living area.

And finally, is entering picture in 2016 with a two-bedroom suite that measures a whopping 860 square feet. cabin has two separate bedrooms, in addition a separate living area and dining room.

What amenities do standard cabins have?

Much like those on an , cabins have a -size bed that can be turned into two twins, nightstands and bedside lights, closets and drawers for your things, a vanity or mirror in room and either a sofa and table, or two chairs and a table. Suitcases can be stored under the bed. Flat-screen TVs, either with or without movies on demand, are usually available for entertainment. Most have included Wi-Fi in their fares, although the quality signal can vary in cabins.

Older ships, such as those used , do have immovable twin beds. You'll want check cabin configuration before you book.

On some , you'll also find a mini-fridge and on most -- but not all -- bottled water is complimentary.

  suite cabin

Are all layouts cabins standard?

On most ships, layout will be familiar anyone who has been in a hotel room or before. door bathroom will likely be in hallway, as soon as you enter room; closets will be facing beds, which will be parallel outside wall, and table and chairs (or sofa) will be near window, balcony or balcony. On some ships, bathroom may be across from bed.

Notably, some have tinkered with this setup. has designed its cabins so beds face windows, particularly nice for . has a similar setup on some its ships, particularly with its Loft cabins (mentioned earlier).

Do have accessible cabins?

Unfortunately, there's no blanket answer this question. overall isn't necessarily most friendly passengers with limited mobility and some biggest names in -- , and -- do not have accessible cabins (although latter does have grips in its bathrooms). While newer ships do have elevators, these often don't go all the way to the sun deck -- a real drawback when you consider that passengers often have to go up to the top deck and board a neighboring ship to disembark. Another factor is the gangway, which is often too steep and narrow for wheelchairs.

does have accessible cabins on all its ships, as does sister and . Some ' ships have wider doors and modified bathrooms. newer ships on have at least one accessible cabin.

But even if you can find a cabin that works, keep in mind that excursions often require a lot of walking over cobblestoned streets. Some require passengers with mobility issues bring a companion with them. For more, read A Guide Accessible .  

Can cabins fit more than two people?

It used be that were designed primarily for couples in their golden years, with little flexibility for families. That's changed, as are realizing that can be a fun and educational vacation for children and teens.

is first actually design a with groups and multi-generational travelers in mind. two family-friendly ships, AmaStella and AmaViola, debuted in 2016. accommodations include 12 staterooms that can house up three family members each; six sets adjoining cabins that can be connected via an internal doorway, accommodating families up five; and four suites with convertible sofa beds that can accommodate families of up four.

On 's newer ships, cabins have full-size sofa beds that can be used families; up four people can sleep in one cabin. ( is also retrofitting its older ships so more cabins will have sofa beds.) also has suites that can accommodate three adults over 18, as well as two parents and a child. recommended minimum age for 's family is eight years old.

, which also offers family-oriented , has some cabins with sofa beds on most of its ships. This is one where ships can vary widely, so check before you book.

While regular cabins on 's , Venture, do not have room for a third berth, Owners Suite does have a sofa that converts a bed.

For more, read Best Family .

Do any ships have single cabins?

Yes. A handful do cater solo travelers with single cabins. Look and in Europe, and in United States. While 's Longships don't have rooms for solos, some their older ships do.

A lack single-person cabins doesn't mean that eschew solo travelers. Far from it. camaraderie means that passengers are often seated at tables for meals, which makes it easy meet people. and offer a roommate matching program. And it's fairly common find discounts and specials waiving single supplement.

What will my room steward do for me? Is there a butler?

Room stewards on perform many same services that their counterparts do: namely, tidying up room several times a day, doing a turndown service and stocking cabin with fresh water and other necessities. You generally won't find a lot towel animals on a , although we saw some spectacular ones -- including spiders, camels and a scorpion -- on our in Egypt.

Two are notable for providing butler service passengers in some categories. offers dedicated butler service all passengers traveling in suites on its fleet, with exception itineraries in Portugal and Russia.

offers butler service passengers in every cabin, with set services according cabin category. These range from shoeshine, concierge service and restocking the mini-bar in Standard Suites, to packing and unpacking, arranging in-room cocktail drinks and even running a bath in the top suites.

Dim-lit Maria Theresa bathroom

I hate showers. Is there a bathtub?

Generally, most cabins are shower only, unless you book a suite. that have tubs in their suites include , (on its older ships only; newer ones go for a rain shower instead), (older ships only) and (newest ships only). is notable for having tubs in categories from Junior Suite and above. 's , Mozart, will also have a bathtub in its upper suite.

What kind bathroom products do provide?

Brand names vary , but in general, seem have nicer products -- shampoo, conditioner and body gel -- than their counterparts. L'Occitane is used on , , , and . uses Molton Brown. has its own products and what's more, they come in full sizes instead trial sizes.

Do I have bring my own hair dryer?

No. All have a hair dryer in room.

How can I find out more about cabins on a ?

What Expect on a series is a resource guide, written Critic editors and contributors, where we answer most common questions about , including dining, cabins and suites, service and onboard activities.

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