Is a balcony the right choice for you on your next cruise?
While not as expensive as suites, balcony staterooms are more expensive than interior and ocean view rooms. You might be wondering if they are worth the splurge or not.
In the end, it depends on your vacation budget, needs, and preferences. Some may be able to justify booking a balcony cabin, while others would prefer stretching their vacation budget as far as possible by booking an interior stateroom.
Sometimes, allocating more money towards cruise add-ons -- like drink packages, shore excursions, specialty dining, and more -- is more important than the category of room you stay in and makes it more memorable!
Here are 8 reasons why you should spend the extra cash on a balcony cabin for your next cruise.
Direct access to fresh air
Having your own personal balcony means that you have access to fresh air whenever you want it. Plus, it is more secluded and private than heading up to the lido deck, which allows for a more intimate connection to the ocean.
This is what many first-time and repeat cruisers are seeking. There's nothing quite like having a room that sits directly ON the high seas.
If you are worried about getting seasick on your cruise, you should know that one natural remedy is actually getting some air and being able to stare off into the horizon.
Guaranteed spot for picture-perfect sail away views
There's no denying that the pool deck is a hub of activity during sail away, so it makes sense that you might want to be in the center of all the action.
If, however, you are someone who wants a more relaxing sail away experience, you will want to do so from your balcony. It also means that you will have a guaranteed spot on the railing!
Sail away is not as quick as you might think. In fact, it can take a long time depending on how long you want to watch land disappear into the horizon for. Having a balcony allows you to take this in in spurts without sacrificing your spot.
Additionally, you'll have a front-row spot for every arrival and sail away from port. Sometimes, these have better views than your initial sail away! If, for instance, you are sailing from Civitavecchia, there will not be too much to take in. The city centers of Barcelona, Marseille, and Genoa are much closer to where the ship docks, meaning that you'll have better views from the ship.
You're able to enjoy your breakfast outside
If you decide to book a balcony, you should not pass up the opportunity to enjoy a meal or snack outside.
You can opt to bring food back from the ship's buffet or have room service delivered directly to you. What better way to start your morning than you be awoken to fresh coffee and being able to sip it while watching your ship sail into port? Plus, this often saves time when getting ready, as you don't have to budget leaving time for the buffet into your morning schedule.
You also cannot have that experience anywhere else. Even if you are staying in an oceanfront suite at the beach, nothing will ever compare to breakfast on your private cruise ship balcony.
More cabin locations
On newer ships especially, balconies tend to be the most plentiful stateroom option. This means that you have more locations to choose from.
Do you prefer a stateroom with a wake view? What about being close to the youth clubs or near the midship elevator bank? No matter your preference, you're likely to find a balcony stateroom that meets them!
When booking an interior or ocean view cabin, you will be more limited. Ocean view rooms tend to be on lower decks or in the very front (forward) or back (aft) of the ship on higher decks, meaning they aren't the most convenient. Similarly, a lot of inside cabins tend to be tucked into interior corridors further from elevator banks. There's no way you would find a room with an exterior view in these internal hallways!
On certain cruises, you might be planning on spending more time outside of your cabin, whether that is ashore or up on the pool deck working on a tan. In that case, putting more money towards cruise add-ons is a great way to enhance your vacation.
That being said, there are certain itineraries where the cost of a balcony stateroom can be justified just because of the views you'll get.
Alaska, for instance, is full of beautiful glaciers and snow-capped mountains. On sea days, the top deck can get awfully crowded, so having your own private retreat to soak these views in is often one of -- if not the -- greatest perk of booking a balcony.
Additionally, it's easier to spot wildlife from a balcony than an ocean view room, as you're able to peer over the edge and have a wider viewpoint.
It's worth noting that some cruise ships -- such as Royal Caribbean's Oasis and Icon Classes and MSC Cruises' World Class -- have balcony staterooms that face the interior of the ship. If you are set on having ocean views, you'll want to make sure that you book the right cabin category. Otherwise, you might end up disappointed when you arrive and realize that your view is actually the ship's Boardwalk or outdoor Promenade.
Ability to check the weather
While everyone hopes for perfect weather on their vacation, that is not always the reality. While Royal Caribbean has a television channel that allows you to get a real-time view of the outside from the bridge, being able to step outside and feel the exact temperature makes a big difference in planning for your day ashore.
Plus, when you are changing for dinner, you will be able to see if you'd like to bring along a sweater or not.
For me, reading the temperature isn't always that helpful. I am the kind of person who needs to feel the temperature is, and having a balcony always makes this much easier.
Read more: 25 Tips to deal with bad weather on a cruise
Additional living space
Cruise ship rooms are much smaller than traditional hotel rooms, so every square foot counts. This is true whether you are traveling with just one other person in your cabin or your family of four!
Balcony rooms tend to be the largest standard stateroom that you can book, with suites having the most living space you'll find at sea (with a much higher price tag).
A balcony room on Carnival Celebration, for instance, measures 249 square feet, whereas interior rooms only come in at 158. While the 249 does include exterior space, it is still space that will help everyone comfortably maneuver the cabin throughout the cruise.
Plus, if you are able to book connecting balcony staterooms, you can ask the cabin attendant if they would be able to open up the balcony divider to create a larger one.
Stateroom upgrades are not guaranteed
You should not book a specific stateroom category with the intention of upgrading. With the demand for cruising at an all-time high, ships are booking up in advance of their sale date, meaning that there are fewer rooms that they have to have rooms to "auction" off.
Upgrading also means losing the ability to choose your stateroom location. If you booked a mid-ship cabin out of fear of getting seasick, you might find that your upgrade was to a balcony cabin at the aft of the ship.
If you have any preferences, it is best to go ahead and reserve the exact room you want during the booking process.
Read more: How to get a cabin upgrade on a cruise
What are the best balcony cabins to book?
Not every balcony cabin is designed in the same way. Aft balconies, for instance, are those located at the back of the ship. Rather than facing either the port or starboard side of the ship, you'll have a view of the ship's wake.
Many cruisers find this view relaxing, even though you are facing backward and do not have an actual view of what you are sailing towards. Plus, they are usually larger than other balcony cabins due to the design of the ship's hull.
If you are looking for a cabin with upgraded perks without splurging on an actual suite, see if your ship has spa balconies! These rooms will be located close to the spa and feature upgraded decor, as well as benefits that vary based on the cruise line you're sailing with. These may include robes and slippers, complimentary thermal suite or exercise class passes, and yoga mats.
If you have specific questions about which balcony is best for you, consult a travel agent! They will also be able to recommend certain ships and cruise lines that further meet your needs.
Read more: 8 best balcony cabins on cruise ships