Should I Splurge on a Balcony?

I’ve sailed a couple of times in balcony cabins – once when my friend Ginzy insisted, and another time when we got a good deal on a 14-day Caribbean cruise. I had been to every one of the 10 ports we visited, so I knew I would enjoy staying on the ship sometimes to just enjoy the balcony.

So one consideration is where you will be sailing. On ocean crossings, it is frequently too windy to enjoy sitting on the balcony for very long. Sometimes in less industrial ports not frequently visited by cruise ships, the balcony overlooks working piers with large cranes unloading ships.

Balcony cabins usually have the benefit of having a full glass door and floor-to-ceiling windows. Outside cabins usually just have a rather small (maybe four-feet square) window above the beds. So even if you aren’t on the balcony a lot, you can see a lot from inside the cabin.

Frequently the furniture in a balcony cabin is configured with the bed in the middle on the side wall and the sitting area at the far balcony end of the cabin. Inside and outside cabins usually have the bed on the far wall and the sitting area between it and the bathroom (which is next to the door to the hallway).

My parents sailed once in a deluxe suite (largest balcony cabin that wasn’t the owner’s suite), which had room for deck recliners, chairs and a dinner table on the balcony, a large dressing room, big bathroom with tub, and a nice large sitting area. It also came with perks such as free laundry and a VIP lounge with a concierge to use rather than standing in line for tickets, etc. It was their 50th anniversary and they splurged. I loved visiting them, but that level isn’t in my budget.

I know lots of people who won’t go back to an inside or outside cabin once they tried a balcony. If I only sailed once every year or two, and the balcony price wasn’t extremely high, that’s probably what I would do, too.

Lately cruisers are reporting a new wrinkle with balcony cabins. Several cruise lines now ban smoking in cabins, but allow it on the balcony. I have read complaints online of some cruisers who could not enjoy their balcony because the neighbors on one or both sides were smoking frequently. Some people believe the problem is getting worse because smokers have upgraded to balconies with the ban on smoking in the cabins. Other people report they haven’t had any problems with smoke from nearby balconies. But it might be something to think about.

What’s your preference – balcony or not?

Next: where on the ship?