In the early days of cruise ship travel, the lower decks were for steerage class and the higher decks were reserved for the upper classes. Today that distinction no longer exists. Sometimes lower decks are actually preferable to the higher ones, depending on a traveler's particular needs and preferences. By knowing the pros and cons of each area of the ship, you can choose the deck that best maximizes your cruise vacation enjoyment.
Consider your comfort level while on the water. Are you prone to seasickness? If so, an upper deck can magnify the problem. Think of a ship's movement as a giant upside-down pendulum. The base stays relatively still, while the "swing" is greater as you move to the top. If you have ever had problems with seasickness or suspect that you might, choose a lower deck location. It will be much more stable in rough seas.
Think about your tolerance for noise. Are you bothered by noise? If so, take note of where the cruise ship activities take place. Staterooms may be located below theaters, nightclubs, casinos and swimming pools. Rooms on the decks below high-traffic entertainment or activity areas may be noisy, so avoid the decks directly below those spots.
Factor in the foot traffic. Do you dislike foot traffic in front of your room? Many ships have some decks that are made up entirely of staterooms and others that have small areas of staterooms, mixed with public venues. The longer a row of rooms, the more foot traffic you'll likely encounter and the more potential noise you'll face. Check the ship's deck plan and select a room on a deck that has smaller clusters of staterooms.
Keep your needs in mind. Is there a particular area where you like to spend the most time? If you have children, you might be planning to spend a lot of time in family activity areas. If you like to sunbathe, you'll likely be relaxing by the pools or out on the promenade deck. Select a deck close to the area where you'll be spending the most time.
Factor in fitness. Do you want to get some exercise? Eating is a prime activity on a cruise ship, but you can offset some of the effects if you avoid the elevator and use the stairs. Choose a deck that is several decks away from the restaurants, theaters and other popular areas. This will force you to do more walking.