Picking a cabin for your cruise can be confusing can’t it? Do you book an inside cabin and save yourself some money or do you splurge on a balcony cabin? (Actually you could split the difference and book an outside cabin, but we’ll get into that another day).
A balcony will certainly give you the best views from your cabin as well as your own little oasis of calm if you want to escape for a few hours, but which balcony should you pick? They’re not all the same you know…
They come in many shapes and sizes with many of them being sold at quite a big discount, for what some might consider only a minor annoyance (or maybe not even an annoyance at all).
We’ve tried to find out which balcony is best for you (and your wallet)…
The Standard Balcony
Probably the easiest to explain; you’ll all be familiar with the standard cruise ship balcony cabin with its glass front and seating area. Yes some ships may have bigger balconies than others but, on the whole, the standard balcony cabin does exactly what it says on the tin.
Top Tip: If you know you’re going to be spending a lot of time on your balcony, it might be worth looking at a slightly older ship. As the cruise lines compete to get more and more people on-board it tends to be the newer ships with the smallest balconies (as they take up less room).
Metal Fronted/Sheltered Balconies
This type of balcony cabin is unique to Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and, as the name ‘sheltered’ suggests, it has been designed especially for the QM2’s transatlantic crossings. Rather than being a traditional, glass fronted balcony it’s instead a hole cut into the super structure of the ship (sounds scary doesn’t it?!)
It works well though, especially in bad weather. It might not be the prettiest balcony you’ll ever see but it is sheltered, meaning come rain or snow, calm seas or rough, you can stand out on your balcony and enjoy the view – you just can’t lie back and sunbathe!
We took a look at a fourteen night sailing on the QM2 next year and opting for one of these balconies compared to a standard balcony will save you roughly £400 per person!
Obstructed View Balconies
Normally the obstructed view cabins on a cruise ship will be the outside cabins, with lifeboats positioned in front of the windows.
However, there’s a trend in modern cruise ship builds to include more and more balconies and to this end, many cruise lines have done away with outside cabins completely, going straight from the inside grade cabin to a balcony grade.
Whilst extra balconies for everyone is obviously a good thing, it does mean that some of the lower grades will have obstructed views (after all, the lifeboats still have to be put somewhere!) and in this case they’ll be located just in front of your balcony.
We took a look at a typical fourteen night cruise and opting for a balcony cabin with an obstructed view would save you on average over £500 per person; you’re then just left with the decision of how much a clear view is worth to you…
Obstructed View Balconies (With Royal Caribbean)
Royal Caribbean’s obstructed view balconies have to be some of our favourite out there. They call them obstructed, but we’d respectfully disagree (whilst still taking the discount they offer for them!)
You see whilst a normal obstructed view balcony would have the lifeboat in front of your cabin, Royal Caribbean place the lifeboats below your cabin!
Yes, if you lean out over your balcony and look down all you’ll be able to see is the canopy covering the lifeboats (instead of the sea) but your view facing forward is completely unobstructed – not bad considering the discount you’ll get!
First things first, don’t get confused by the word veranda. That’s just what the American cruise lines call their balcony cabins but a balcony or a veranda is the same thing. Sunset veranda’s however….
Almost every balcony cabin you will ever stop in will be located on either the port or starboard of the ship. In fact, almost any cabin, balcony or no, that you stop in will be located on either side of the ship; after all where else could your cabin go?
If you’re lucky enough to book a suite for your cruise you may find it’s located at the very back of the ship with amazing 180° views of the ocean.
Is a suite a little out of your price range? Not to worry!
If you’ve always fancied a cabin at the very back of the ship Celebrity Cruises offer sunset verandas – normal balcony cabins located where you’d normally find a suite.
Now that’s what we call a view!
We had a quick look at a fourteen night sailing next year on the Celebrity Eclipse and the Sunset Veranda was only an extra £90 per person when compared to the standard balcony. That has to be the best price for a view ever!
Central Park View
Think a view of Central Park from your balcony would be pushing it? Think again!
Book yourself a balcony cabin on one of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class of cruise ships and you’ve a choice of views from your balcony. You can opt for the traditional ocean view if you want but for those that enjoy a light spot of people watching you can choose a Central Park view – Central Park being the name of the massive garden that’s located in the middle of all Oasis class cruise ships and is open to the skies – trust us on this, it needs to be seen to be believed!
On a typical seven night sailing to the Caribbean, these balconies were actually coming in at over £200 cheaper than the standard ocean views!
Like the idea of people-watching but worried you’re not really a fan of nature?
Don’t worry, as well as offering balcony cabins with views of Central Park Royal Caribbean also sell balcony cabins on their Oasis class of ships with a view of the boardwalk – now these ARE the perfect people watching cabins!
Again, on a typical seven night sailing to the Caribbean these balconies were coming in at over £200 cheaper than the standard ocean views! That’s not a bad saving, especially if you’re a fan of people-watching.
Aqua Theatre Balcony Cabins
Not only do Royal Caribbean offer Central Park and Boardwalk view balcony cabins on their Oasis Class of cruise ship, they also offer Aqua-theatre suites!
Located at the back of the ship, these amazing cabins have an unrivaled view of the Aqua-theatre allowing you to view the amazing Acapulco divers in the comfort and privacy of your own balcony!
We checked out the cost for you of these suites over a seven night Caribbean sailing next year and they were coming in at just over an extra £2000 per person compared to a standard balcony (although bare in mind you’re getting a suite with that and what more a suite with your own private view of the aqua-theatre!)
You wouldn’t think it possible for anyone to be able to see into your balcony but it does happen on occasions.
For instance, the bridge of the ship always sticks out a little from the side so the bridge crew can get a full 360° view when they’re piloting the ship. Great for the crew obviously; not so great for you if you happen to pick a balcony cabin too close to the bridge as the crew will be able to see whatever you get up to on your balcony!
Even worse are the mini-suite cabins overlooked on Royal Princess by the Sea-walk! Being able to look down at the sea is an amazing experience, having people stare into your cabin from the Sea-walk isn’t!
And the worst thing is you don’t even get a discount for booking these cabins!
Top Tip: If you do book one of these cabins go for one with an even number – The Sea Walk is positioned to look at all the odd numbered cabins – you have been warned!
If you’ve come across this term before chances are you may have booked a river cruise at some time in the past. Juliet or French balconies as they’re sometimes known, are the standard balconies on river cruise ships.
Picture a French window that instead of opening from the side opens downwards, from the ceiling – that’s a Juliet balcony. Depending on how you look at it they either turn your entire cabin into one giant balcony…. Or they’re actually just a really big window that shouldn’t be called a balcony at all. What do you think?
APT’s Twin Balconies
When APT wanted to offer something different to their competitors, better than just the standard Juliet balconies you’d find on most ships, they came up with what’s known as their double balconies.
Just as the name suggests you’ll get both the standard Juliet balcony that you’d get on all river ships as well as the traditional balcony cabin that you’d normally find on an ocean going cruise ship.
The only difference being that you get both in one cabin!
Two for the price of one can’t be bad!
We asked one of our specialist cruise consultants about these balconies as he’d actually stopped in one and he said:
These are really unique with half the balcony outside and half inside, if that makes sense!!! My wife and I can’t always decide if we want the balcony door open. This solves the problem and when we cruised on APT AmaBella between Nuremberg and Budapest, my wife sat in the warmth inside and I enjoyed the outdoors. You can learn more about Wayne’s cruises here…
Have you ever stopped in any of these balconies? Which would you pick? Have we missed any of the list? Did you find these secret insider tips useful?Let us know in the comments below…
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