It’s been a staple of the big cruise ship lines for decades.
Whether you’re travelling with the kids, on a weekend away with friends, or as a solo cruiser, the interior cabin has become a popular choice because of its affordability.
But with strict health protocols expected to come into play in the next few months and ships expected to sail with fewer passengers, lines are rethinking the future of the interior cabin, post COVID-19. And in particularly, those with four bunks.
Some lines are expected to offer balcony upgrades to wean people off their low-priced interior rooms. The result may be higher prices, though few would confirm this.
Getting passengers back on board post pandemic without special offers and deals would certainly challenge cruise line marketers.
The larger, more contemporary lines like Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises Australia, Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line, have a raft of interior cabins, which attract young families and groups of friends.
The lines have told Cruise Passenger, that they are looking at different options to make sure they follow guidelines imposed by the CDC, as well as ensure the health and safety of passengers.
Nothing is off the table.
“Without commenting on specific aspects, we will tailor our product to meet the needs of a new operating environment so that guests can feel safe and confident about cruising,” said a spokesperson from P&O Cruises Australia.
Royal Caribbean said they are currently working with a number of different companies to implement new health protocols.
“We have engaged the services of distinguished external experts in relevant fields – including infectious diseases, public health, epidemiology, design and sanitation and more – who are working with our internal teams in developing new standards and procedures for our ships,” said the spokesperson.
Adam Vance, the General Manager of Sales and Marketing at Cruiseco said that while we might not see interior cabins for ships sailing at the end of the year or the beginning of 2021, it is not the final death of the inside stateroom.
“The inside cabin will be like Lazarus rising. While lines like Royal Caribbean are selling the interiors for their 2021/22 season, we might not see the inside cabins on sailings in the near future,” he said.
“It’s all about perception and confidence. And to meet the standards of the Centres for Disease, Control and Prevention, the cruise lines may look at eliminating the interior cabins for now. It’s all about finding ways to increase the confidence and ease the minds of travellers.”
Mr Vance also pointed out, cruise lines will be looking to create more space, not just for the passengers, but also for the crew. And he said, potentially, some of the crew members would be staying in those interior cabins.
“We have to remember that the cruise lines will be looking to space out their staff. Some of those interior cabins may be used for crew members,” he said.
“But generally, a lot of our clients don’t tend to book interior cabins. Our clients, who are regular cruises and are part of loyalty programs, will book interior cabins but then request an upgrade closer to date of sailing.”
Cruising with Honey’s Honida Beram said lines considering eliminating interior cabins, will exclude groups of passengers who are looking for affordable holidays.
Yes, it may not come with the luxuries of a window or expansive balconies with sea views, but it serves a simple purpose for many, said Ms Beram.
“I’ve sailed loads of times in an inside cabin and if the inside cabin was killed off, cruise lines will have to offer window cabins at inside prices, especially if you have booked an interior cabin for a future cruise,” she said.
“They are an affordable way to cruise and for many, as I am often reminded by my readers, is that the cabin is just a place for them to sleep and shower.”