It’s that moment in the cruise booking process that requires you to select your cabin. You know you want a balcony (or inside or suite) but now you need to choose the specific room you want. The only problem? There are hundreds to choose from all over the ship!

How do you know which deck is best, or if you should choose a midship room or one more forward or aft? The truth is, there is no objective answer to the question, “What’s the best cabin placement on my cruise ship?” It all depends on what’s important to you. Whether you need a cabin that won’t aggravate your motion sensitivity or want the best view possible, we round up the locations you should book, based on your stateroom preferences.

Best for a Great View

Cabins at the very front or very back of a cruise ship are most likely to have the best views, as they offer the widest vistas of the ocean stretching out behind or in front of the ship — or in the case of forward cabins, your next port of call. Views are especially fantastic on ships that offer front cabins with oversized floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows. Select Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line ships fall into that category.

Best for a Large Balcony

Aft cabins typically have some of the largest balconies on a cruise ship as there are usually just a few rooms lined up along the back of a ship giving each one more space for a bigger balcony. In particular, aft cabins located on the corners of the ship often have wraparound balconies, creating enough space for chairs, loungers and sometimes a small dining table.

Also good for a larger balcony are cabins located on the so-called “hump” of a cruise ship that is designed with a curvy outline. Cabins located where the ship transitions from a narrower to a wider width have angled balconies that are roomier than a typical veranda. Hump cabins can be found on select Royal Caribbean ships.

Best for Those with Motion Sensitivity

The closer to the edges (top, front and back — but not bottom) of a sea-going vessel you are, the more likely you are to feel the movement of that ship in the water. It’s worst at the front of the ship, which hits the waves first and rebounds upward. (How high the resulting bounce is depends on how rough the water is.) The higher on the ship you are, the more exaggerated the up and down motion of the ship hitting the waves feels. It’s less noticeable at the back of the ship, but even there the motion of the ocean can be felt, especially if the seas are at all rough. Cruisers with a sensitivity to motion will do best midship (midway between front and back) and as low down as possible, as the rocking and rolling of the ocean is much less perceptible the closer you are to the waterline.

Best for Light Sleepers

If you want the quietest cabin possible, eliminate cabins located by noisy areas. Do not book cabins located directly under the pool deck or buffet, too close to the elevators, across the hall from a laundry or crew entry door, and under or over the casino, theater or nightclub. You’ll also want to skip cabins located low and forward (where the anchor being lowered or raised can generate a lot of sound) or at the back (where the ship’s generators create a hum that rarely, if ever, stops). You’ll need to study a deck plan for the best placement or call on a travel agent who knows the ship you’re booking. However, a general rule of thumb is to surround yourself with other passenger cabins — on either side of you, across from you and above and below you.

Best for the Mobility Impaired

Crowds are the bane of cruisers with any type of mobility impairment, and while you can’t avoid people all the time on a cruise ship, you certainly can choose a cabin in a location that’s easier to navigate to or from. Cabins on decks that also host passenger services or public spaces are usually harder to traverse; there will often be people milling around, blocking the walking area so selecting a deck that only has cabins on it is advisable. Even though the hallways tend to be narrower, there are rarely people standing around. If possible, try to snag a cabin near an elevator so there’s less distance between your cabin door and the elevators.

Best for Water Babies

The most obvious room location for any water-lover is as close to the pool as you can get. On some cruise ships, you can get a cabin on the very same deck as the pool, so it’s out your door and a quick stroll to paradise. On other ships, you might have to get a cabin one deck below the pool, adding a minute or two or more to your cabin-to-pool commute.

Another, less obvious choice for water babies is a cabin that’s located close to the water line. While you can’t go into the water, you’ll be able to hear it lapping against your balcony or porthole window. For those for whom cruising is just as much about being on water as anything else, these cabins — like the cove balconies on select Carnival ships — are the perfect home away from home.

The guy who leaves the hot tub looking like a crime scene, ridden with the remains of his fruity cocktail. The woman flailing around at the nightclub like Elaine from “Seinfeld,” spilling her drink with every kick and jolt. The ruthless seat saver holding onto an entire booth in the lounge, forcing others to stand. Many cruisers enjoy a vacation drink or several, but you don’t want to turn into an embarrassing stereotype.

And that’s where our unofficial rule book for drinking on a cruise ship comes in. Not all the rules stem from other cruisers’ mishaps. Many of them are (or should be) common sense, while others are simply a good reminder, even for seasoned cruisers. (We admit we’ve been guilty of No. 1 in the past.) Drink responsibly, maintain your dignity, and avoid public humiliation with these 12 rules of drinking on a cruise ship.

1. Remember to hydrate.

With so much to do and see (and drink) on a cruise, it can be easy to forget to stay hydrated — and no, the ice in your margarita on the rocks doesn’t count. Carry around a refillable water bottle (you can get water at the buffet’s self-service drink stations, and cruise ship water is perfectly safe to drink), or pace yourself by having a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages. Forget to hydrate, and you not only could get sloppy drunk, but you also risk getting sick and waking up with a debilitating hangover.

2. Don’t save seats at the bar or lounge.

Akin to deck chair hogs, bar/lounge seat savers have no regard for other cruisers. It’s one thing to hold a seat for your cruise companion if he or she needs to step out for a sec and use the bathroom, but it’s rude to claim a handful of seats for your group that won’t be arriving for a half-hour or more.

3. Have an idea of what you want before you get to the bar.

We spend enough precious vacation time standing in line, whether it’s boarding the ship or waiting outside the main dining room before dinner; we don’t need to wait around for Joe Schmoe to study the drink menu and ask the bartender a million questions about the items listed. If you’re unsure of what you want to order, take a peek at the menu before getting in line — this way, you have time to think about it.

4. Tip the bartender.

Mainstream cruise lines automatically place gratuities (bar service is usually around 15 percent) on onboard accounts, so cruisers don’t have to worry about hunting down crew members and handing out tips at the end of the cruise. However, if your bartender goes above and beyond, consider adding a little something extra to show your appreciation. Plan to hang out at the same bar often? Tipping your bartender some cash upfront is a good way to ensure attentive service throughout your cruise.

5. Don’t overpay for drinks.

There are a handful of ways to get free or cheaper drinks on a cruise, if you play your cards right. Start by checking your daily planner for drink specials, such as happy hours and the drink of the day. Some lines also host captain’s cocktail parties, where servers make the rounds with trays of Champagne. Big drinkers should also consider beverage packages, either for a daily rate or as a free perk, to save on booze. Bear in mind, though: Just because you’re saving money on drinks, doesn’t mean you should order more than you can handle.

6. Don’t overdo it.

We’ve all witnessed “that guy” — the one who drinks more than he can handle at the pool bar and makes a fool of himself, prompting onlookers to whip out their cell phones and record the scene. Unless your life goal is to be a viral video or meme, we recommend you pace yourself and know your limits. If you have a track record of getting “ship faced,” assign a wing woman or man to look after you.

7. Finish your drink before you hit the dance floor.

Bust a move, not a glass. On a moving ship, it’s a smart idea to finish your drink before heading out onto the dance floor. Even if your idea of dancing is just swaying from side to side, all it takes is a little motion or one person to knock over your drink — staining your friend’s formal dress and putting those around you at risk of slipping and getting hurt.

8. Think outside the box.

Lavender, basil, honey — a cocktail’s ingredients have caught your eye; the only downside is it’s made with gin, which you can’t stand. Don’t settle for another drink. Ask the bartender to swap out the gin for your spirit of choice. Most happily will tailor drinks to your liking, as long as they have your requested liquor on hand. Or be adventurous and try it as is. Vacation is a perfect time to try something new.

9. Don’t let a stranger hand you a drink.

A cruise ship bar can be a great place for singles to meet and mingle, but — using the same basic precautions you would in any bar — make sure you don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know. You should be the one to take it from the bartender’s hand. For the same reasons, you also shouldn’t leave your drink unattended.

10. Keep it classy in the hot tub.

There’s nothing more uninviting than a hot tub bubbling with cherries, pineapple slices and empty plastic cups. We have no problem with sipping a drink in the hot tub, but please use extra caution and respect for your fellow hot-tubbers. You also should avoid entering the hot tub if you’re highly intoxicated, as it becomes a safety issue. Note: Cruise lines prohibit the use of glass near the hot tubs or pools, so make sure you order your drink in a plastic cup if that’s where you’re headed. Most cruise lines also have servers who will take orders from the hot tub and bring out your drinks in plastic cups.

11. Don’t buy drinks for anyone underage.

The drinking age on all U.S.-based cruise lines is 21 — even when sailing international waters. (Under special circumstances, some cruise lines allow 18- to 20-year-olds to purchase and consume alcohol with a parent’s consent.) Regardless of the policy, you should never buy a drink for someone under 21. Break this rule, and you could face some serious consequences, including forced disembarkation.

12. Don’t sneak alcohol onboard.

One of the most important rules — which happens to be a legitimate rule, enforced by the cruise lines — is that you should never sneak alcohol onboard. There are a number of reasons why you should never try it, including the public humiliation you’ll face if caught and the money you could lose if your newly purchased “rum runner” containers are confiscated. You can try to justify it all you want, but it’s actually straightforward: It’s a cruise line policy. Don’t do it.

For many travelers who cruise with the intention of seeing new places and having new experiences, shore excursions are key. As each cruise line’s list of shore trip offerings continues to grow, it can be downright difficult to decide which types of excursions are right for you. How do you know you won’t be paying too much for a tour that could very well be too crowded or that won’t give you the time you need at the sights you want to see? Check out our list of cruise shore excursions that aren’t worth your money before booking your next on-land adventure.

1. Shopping

Whether you prefer kitschy T-shirts, duty-free purchases or authentic, handmade souvenirs, great shopping abounds in many a cruise port, but there’s no need to shell out money for a shopping excursion. It’s far easier to do it on your own with a tiny bit of research ahead of time. It won’t cost you a cent to browse, you can stop whenever you want at the places that interest you, and you’ll also avoid the high-pressure sales tactics of local vendors who often pay cruise lines to be included on these types of organized cruise excursions.

2. Sightseeing by Bus

cruise vacation, cruise vacation tips, cruise vacation planning, cruise vacation excursion tips, cruise vacation excursion planning

Bus tours are great for anyone with limited mobility or those who want a brief overview of a port without a lot of walking. The trouble with these types of excursions, though, is that they often involve more time on the road than actual exploration, and each stop can feel rushed. Plus there’s nothing more annoying than tour guides who talk too much or the disappointment you feel when that awesome landmark you were hoping to see is on the right side of the bus when you’re sitting on the left.

3. Booze Cruises

When you first read the description of a “party cruise” or “sunset cruise,” it might sound like a ton of fun or a relaxing way to end the day. What you’ll more likely find is a raucous vibe, akin to that of a frat party. There’s nothing wrong with these tours if that’s your scene, but when you combine unlimited cocktails with the motion of the ocean on a small boat, the alcohol is bound to reappear, if you catch our drift — especially if you’re someone who’s already prone to seasickness.

4. Museums

cruise vacation, cruise vacation tips, cruise vacation planning, cruise vacation excursion tips, cruise vacation excursion planningMuseums are some of the best places to learn about local culture in the ports you visit, but the experience won’t be enjoyable if you’re in a group with several dozen other travelers, struggling to hear your tour guide while muscling your way to the front of the group to catch fleeting glimpses of important artifacts. Although organized museum shore excursions include transportation and expedited admission, in most cases you can still go it alone and minimize hassle and wait times by planning transportation and purchasing museum tickets in advance.

5. Beach Breaks

cruise vacation, cruise vacation tips, cruise vacation planning, cruise vacation excursion tips, cruise vacation excursion planningSure, a relaxing day at the beach with a cold drink, warm breezes and stunning views sounds awesome, but if you book a cruise excursion that promises you sun and sand, you might go from being a beach bum to being just plain bummed. What you’ll likely find on a beach shore trip are swarms of fellow cruisers (particularly in popular ports on days when more than one ship is calling) who all had the same idea. Crowds can make umbrellas and chairs scarce, the atmosphere loud and lines for the toilets long, leaving you with an ambience that’s anything but serene. Instead, find a beach — or even a resort — that’s a little farther away, and arrange your own transportation. There might still be an entry fee, but it will almost always be less expensive than paying for an excursion, and you’ll be more likely to escape the masses.