What Is A Picture Window On A Cruise?

Considering booking a cruise with a picture window? If you’ve never heard the term, you might not be sure what you’re actually getting. Some people get confused, so I’m here to de-mist everything and make it really clear what a picture window room is on a cruise ship!

A cabin with a picture window
Picture window

What does a picture window mean on a cruise ship?

A picture window on a cruise ship is simply a large, rectangular window. It offers a better view than a porthole room, but not quite as good as staterooms that have floor-to-ceiling windows. Picture windows vary in size but offer a good amount of natural light.

There are some people that get a little confused by the name and think that it’s a picture of a window, or some other type of fake window.

Inside a two-bed cabin of a cruise ship
Not a picture window

That’s exactly what this person thought:

A facebook of a post of a confused person
Two person communicating through the comment section

Royal Caribbean does have something like this – some rooms have Virtual Balconies. These are where the wall has a large picture showing a live image of the sea, so it’s like having a balcony in your room, despite being an inside stateroom.

Inside Stateroom with Virtual Balcony Cat. J - Room #9259 - Deck 9 Midship Navigator of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International

That’s not a picture window though – a cabin or stateroom with a picture window is just a regular ocean view cabin, with a square or rectangular window.

Is a picture window different from a regular window?

A picture window is the same as a regular window you’d have at home. The name doesn’t mean anything special – it just helps to differentiate between rooms with a porthole. Picture windows are preferred since you get a better view, and more natural light.

Porthole rooms should be avoided if you can. A porthole might sound fun, but they’re often small, and sometimes you can barely see out of them, especially if they’re thick (so you get less peripheral view through them).

Room with a porthole on Ambition cruise ship

Always check the deck plans of your ship, because sometimes when booking an ocean view stateroom or cabin you might find that it is offered with “either a porthole or a picture window”. For these, you’ll need to check which cabins on the deck plans are marked as having a porthole, so you can steer clear.

Generally, portholes are found on the very lowest decks, often at the front and aft of the ship. Picture windows are on cabins in a mid-ship location or on a couple of higher decks, before the cruise ship starts using balconies for its outside-facing rooms.


Some ocean view rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, where the window literally takes up the entire wall from the floor to the ceiling. These are better than a picture window, but they’re not super common. Picture windows make up most of the windows in ocean view rooms on most cruise lines.

Royal Caribbean Panoramic Suite

Can you open a picture window on a cruise ship?

You won’t be able to open any windows in your cruise ship cabin. They’re always sealed shut. Picture window cabins tend to be on lower decks, so being able to open them would put you at risk of splashes from the waves.

If you want fresh air in your room, you’ll need to choose a balcony cabin – these are higher up the ship, and have doors which open up to allow you out onto your own balcony space.

On a river cruise ship, you may have a French balcony, which is essentially a large window that you can slide down. That’s because you don’t get the same kind of waves on a river as you do on the ocean.

Drop down french balcony on scenic amber

But if you’re booking an ocean view cabin with a picture window, you’ll get the view and the sunlight, but for fresh air you’ll need to head to the open decks.


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Final word

There’s nothing particularly exciting about a picture window – it’s just the cruise ship term for a standard window, really. But it’s good to know exactly what you’re getting – and why it’s better than a porthole cabin.

If you want the best view, but you don’t want to pay for a balcony, then try to find a cabin with floor-to-ceiling windows. Or if sailing on a newer Royal Caribbean ship, and you don’t mind ‘fake’ light, then a Virtual Balcony might be a good choice.

But for affordable cruising with a bit of a view and some natural sunlight, a picture window cabin is a great choice. And if your window has a seat, then even better.

lona sea view window seat

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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