What Is an Obstructed View on a Cruise Ship and Should You Book This Stateroom Category? (2024)

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Many cruisers may not know that it’s possible to get an oceanview or balcony stateroom for cheaper than the list price.. and you still get to choose your exact cabin on the ship. How? If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of the ocean views, you can book an obstructed view cabin. Here, we’re going over what obstructed view staterooms are, the pros and cons of booking one, and more.

What is an obstructed view cabin on a cruise ship?

Obstructed view staterooms are cabins that have a window or balcony, but the view outside is either partially or fully obstructed by some other part of the ship. This means that at the very least you’ll get some natural light in a window cabin and still be able to enjoy the outdoor balcony space with an obstructed balcony. However, you may have compromised views out of the ship beyond that.

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What’s outside ‘obstructing’ the view, anyway?

If you’re a first time cruiser, you may be wondering what could be obstructing your stateroom’s view from the window or balcony. There are several possibilities, which can vary depending on the ship and where each specific obstructed view cabin is on board.

Common things that can obstruct the view include lifeboats and the machinery that operates them, crew walkways, promenade deck fixtures, or waterslides that jut out over the side of the ship.

The amount of view from the window or balcony that’s obstructed can vary widely. I’ve seen balcony cabins that are categorized as obstructed, but I wouldn’t have even known it because the “obstruction” was so small; the view was almost unimpeded.

Then, there are obstructed window staterooms that have a lifeboat blocking the view entirely. In this case, the window’s use is more for letting in a bit of natural light vs. actually enjoying any kind of view.

What Is an Obstructed View on a Cruise Ship and Should You Book This Stateroom Category? (2)

Cruise lines like to err on the side of caution when it comes to categorizing their cabins as having an “obstructed view”. This means that something most of us wouldn’t even consider as an obstruction they might still categorize that way.

That’s because they’d rather someone book an obstructed view and be pleasantly surprised when they still get a very full view vs. having someone book the cabin as a regular stateroom and have the small chance that they might complain because a lifeboat was blocking a tiny bit of their view in the corner. Cruise lines, like any company, don’t want their guests to be unsatisfied and complain, so being more cautionary with categorizing obstructed view staterooms helps with that.

How do you know if a cabin has an obstructed view on a cruise ship?

If you’re looking to book a cruise and are worried you might end up with an obstructed view cabin, take a deep breath. You won’t just end up in an obstructed view cabin unless you choose purposely to book one.

During the booking process, you will be able to select your exact stateroom on the ship (unless you book a guarantee cabin, which we’ll discuss later). The booking engine will tell you if that cabin has an obstructed view, and you can also view the location of the cabin on the deck plans. You’ll then be able to choose another if you don’t want that one (pending availability).

If you want to know where the obstructed view cabins are on a given cruise ship, many cruise lines label obstructed view cabins as their own category, which they will note on the deck plans. Alternatively, the deck plans may use a special symbol to indicate an obstructed view.

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Pros of Booking a Cabin with an Obstructed View

It’s Cheaper

The top reason booking an obstructed view cabin is a great option is because of the price. Choosing a stateroom with an obstructed view allows many cruisers to have a better stateroom than they might have had otherwise if their budget is tight. It’s also just a great way to save money no matter what the budget is.

For example, depending on the cruise, a regular oceanview cabin may not be much (or at all) cheaper than booking an obstructed balcony. You may lose some of the view, but you get the added bonus of a private outdoor area where you can step into the fresh air whenever you want. You may also receive a fully obstructed oceanview cabin for not much more money than an interior room, but have the addition of some natural light that sneaks into your space.

During the booking process, some cruise lines might give you a percentage of obstruction. This way, you’ll have a good idea of what you’re actually getting going into the cruise. If the obstruction is worth the better price than non-obstructed staterooms in the same category, you’ve got yourself a great deal.

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Ideal Spot on the Ship

Not only are obstructed view staterooms less expensive than standard view cabins, but they also may be in very ideal spots on the ship. For example, on modern cruise ships lifeboats tend to hang just above an outdoor promenade deck, which is usually one of the mid-lower decks that’s full of public venues for guests to enjoy.

If you have an obstructed view stateroom because of a lifeboat, you’ll probably be just a deck or two above that promenade deck —giving you easy access to it. Many things that can cause an obstruction are located near prime spots on the ship, including towards the middle, giving you easy access to more of the vessel than if you were all the way forward or aft.

You may be wondering why this matters, since you’re able to choose your stateroom while booking a cruise and could just as easily choose a non-obstructed cabin in a prime location. This answer ties in with the previous pro to an obstructed cabin: the cost. Not only do obstructed cabins cost less, but you also might end up in a great location on the ship for that lower price.

Cons of Booking a Cabin with an Obstructed View

Hindered View

The obvious con to booking an obstructed view cabin is right there in the name:you won’t have a full, unobstructed view. The good news is that you can’t book one of these cabins by accident. If you don’t book an obstructed view cabin, you won’t get one.

But if you’re considering booking one, the thing to think about is why you want a window or a balcony most in the first place. If you’re all about the views, you should probably choose a standard oceanview or balcony. This especially applies to sailings where many guests specifically book windows or balconies because of the views, such as in Alaska or Norway.

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But if you’re less concerned about the views (you can get those in public areas too, after all!) and really want fresh air just a step outside your own room, an obstructed balcony might be a great option. Likewise, if you’d just like some natural light and maybe a bit of a view in your cabin, an obstructed oceanview could work perfectly for your needs.

How to Make the Most of an Obstructed View Cabin on a Cruise Ship

When getting ready to choose your obstructed view cabin, there are some tips to keep in mind to get the best view. First of all, as mentioned previously, check the deck plans. Find the obstructed view cabins on your ship and then look up photos of the side of the ship and of that specific cabin if you can.

Additionally, if you’re considering a cabin with an obstruction by a lifeboat, some cruisers recommend choosing a stateroom that’s at the very end of the row of lifeboats, towards the front or back of the ship. That way, you could have a better view in the opposite direction to where the lifeboats are.

A great tidbit to also know is that some cruise lines actually list some of their (very) obstructed window cabins as interiors. So you’ll be paying the interior price but at the very least still getting some natural light and possibly a smidgen of a view as well.

If you’re open to these staterooms, research how your particular cruise line categorizes these staterooms and look for them on the deck plans. An even easier option is to inform your travel agent that you’re open to these staterooms and they can find out whether the ship has any and if they’re available.

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Could a guarantee cabin include an obstructed view?

Booking a guarantee cabin means that instead of choosing your specific stateroom on the ship, you pay a little less to let the cruise line assign you your cabin closer to the sailing date. It’s called a “guarantee” cabin because you’re guaranteed to get at least the stateroom category you choose —or higher!

But since you don’t get to choose your stateroom, you may be wondering if you could book —for example —a balcony guarantee stateroom and end up with one that has an obstructed view.

There’s no one sure answer for this across all cruise lines. The exact result varies depending on the cruise company and how its system sorts out who goes in which cabins. But the general answer is no: you’ll only get an obstructed view guarantee cabin if you book an obstructed view guarantee cabin.

You may also get an obstructed view cabin if you specifically tell the cruise line that you’re open to that when you book (but we don’t really know why you’d want to). It’s also possible that you could book a guarantee interior cabin and receive an oceanview or balcony with an obstructed view since that’s still an improvement over an interior stateroom with no windows at all.


Have you had a cabin with an obstructed view on a cruise ship? What are your pros and cons of this stateroom category? Drop us an anchor below to share your thoughts.

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What Is an Obstructed View on a Cruise Ship and Should You Book This Stateroom Category? (2024)


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