Choosing a Cruise Cabin: Port or Starboard?



A common question that comes up when selecting a stateroom on a cruise is which side of the ship is ‘best’, port or starboard?

Why exactly does this question come up?

Many cruisers enjoy having a view of the land or dock along their itinerary. Some prefer sunset views over sunrises. And others want to make sure they have every opportunity to take full advantage of the scenery from their balcony in a destination like Alaska or Hawaii. These passengers wonder if they can guarantee they will have their desired views by choosing a port over starboard stateroom, or vice versa.

Which side is which?

If you are facing forward (towards the bow, or front ‘point’ of the ship) the port side of the ship is on your left and the starboard on the right.

An easy way to remember this is just like L (left) comes before R (right), P (port) comes before S (starboard) in the alphabet.

And, that is really all you need to know!

There is not necessarily one side that is better than the other.

Ships do not always receive the same docking assignments. It is impossible to predict and determine if the ship will back in to its berth or face forward, impossible to predict which side of the ship will have a more desirable view. The final decision comes down to weather, the amount of ships and any other relevant conditions in the port of call that day.

In any specific scenic cruising destinations like Alaska or Hawaii, the captain will turn the whole ship around 360 degrees so everyone has a chance to take in the sights!

Tip: There is one exception for those guests that have a distinct preference between sunrise and sunsets. If you are traveling north, you will start the day with the sunrise every morning from the ship’s starboard side. But if you are traveling south, you will enjoy the sunset from your starboard stateroom each evening.

For most cruise passengers, selecting a stateroom that is mid-ship or near an elevator is most of the time more pressing than choosing between port side and starboard side.

Mid-ship staterooms provide stability and less movement which is ideal for those that may suffer from motion sickness. Staterooms near elevators are ideal for guests with limited mobility.

There is no real necessity to reserve a cabin strictly on the port side or starboard side – you will have a wonderful sea view from both sides when at sea and while docked you will be out on exciting adventures in a beautiful destination.

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