This question was answered on our Cruise IQ show on October 16, 2017.
If you’re looking for accommodations for more than four guests, you’ll need to book a special category of room or split into multiple staterooms. Standard cruise ship accommodations, whether they be inside, ocean view or balcony, allow a maximum of four guests. The choice of booking one room to fit all guests versus booking separate rooms really depends on personal preference and budget and there are definitely advantages and disadvantages to both options.
A few cruise lines offer staterooms that sleep 5 or 6 guests. These rooms work out great for parents and children traveling together. One advantage is that everyone can stay together, especially important if the children are younger. On certain Carnival and Disney ships, they’ve also created special rooms for 5 that also have a split bath. With the split bath, more guests can be getting ready at the same time. One disadvantage is that even though the rooms are larger than standard rooms, they can feel cramped with 5 guests. An exception are the Family Panoramic rooms on certain Royal Caribbean ships that sleep up to six and also have the split bath. These rooms are huge (at least by cruise ship standards) at over 400 sq feet. Booking a larger room sleeping 5 or 6 without the spilt bath will be challenging at the least.
The availability and size of suites has increased over the past several years. The main advantage is the size and upgraded amenities and perks. Some cruise ships, like Royal Caribbean’s Freedom and Oasis-Class ships have suites that can accommodate up to 10 or more guests. While these large suites are perfect when traveling with extended or multi-generational families and there is nothing like cruising in a luxurious suite, these accommodations come with hefty premium price.
Booking separate rooms whether adjoining, connecting or close by each other, can sometimes be less expensive than booking large capacity rooms or suites. The greatest advantages are the overall amount of space for each guest, better sleeping options with the possibility of all lower beds and definitely the multiple bathrooms. The disadvantage especially for families will be the separation between rooms. Even if the rooms connect, there is only a small door as the common link between rooms, so it is not ideal when you all want to gather together.