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Sail Away standing along the railing with a glass of champagne in your hand waving goodbye to everyone still on land as you depart on your dream cruise vacation. This might be an image you have in mind if you are looking forward to your first cruise ever. The question is, do you see yourself standing at the railing crammed shoulder to shoulder with other passengers all trying to get a selfie as the ship leaves port or did you have the foresight to book a cabin with a private balcony to make that experience exclusively your own?
I am a balcony fan and I have booked a balcony on almost every cruise I have taken. Concern over the possibility of suffering seasickness on our first cruise motivated me to book a balcony. Now with hundreds of nights at sea under my belt, I have no concerns of being seasick anymore and a balcony is simply something I enjoy and consider worth the price, which can vary from not too much more than cabins simply with a good view or a lot more for a more spacious balcony option.
Having a cabin with a balcony will not generally provide you with a larger cabin space, although it will feel more spacious in most cases with the additional light coming in through the window and when the door is open. You may feel the ship has plenty of deck space and loungers that you don’t need a balcony so perhaps a porthole is sufficient for added light. I have booked both a large, rectangular porthole cabin as well as one with 2 tiny, traditional, round porthole windows in the past. My experience with the larger rectangular porthole was acceptable, but the 2 tiny round ones were horrible as the view through the glass was distorted and extremely small and when looking at them from within the cabin the movement of the ship was exaggerated and could potentially make any tendencies toward seasickness much worse.
There can be drawbacks to a balcony, but most can be addressed through your room steward or butler should they arise. What kind of drawbacks, you ask? The “privacy” you experience on your own balcony is limited as the partitions often get shorter as they extend to the railing allowing your neighbors to peer around it directly onto your balcony. Additionally, on our recent Alaska cruise we were in the forward suite, with the bridge directly over our heads. At times the room steward may leave the partition door unlocked, allowing your neighbors access to your balcony and your cabin if you forgot to lock the door. We have often had a neighbor who insisted on smoking on their balcony despite this being strictly prohibited by the cruise line. You could have loud talkers as your neighbors, disturbing your afternoon snooze in the sun.
All things considered, I generally always prefer having a balcony. I find the peacefulness of getting up in the morning (often before my wife awakens) and going out to the balcony so as to not disturb her a wonderful part of my cruise experience. We both enjoy spending time during the afternoon on the balcony in the sun and the snacks brought by our butler. Having the additional light in the cabin with the curtains open as well as the feeling of wide open space out there also adds much to our overall cruise experience. Being able to enjoy unobstructed views away from the crowds is also a great benefit of having a cabin with a balcony. Having access to fresh air outside of the cabin can also help if you happen to experience and seasick symptoms. I would say it’s worth doing your homework to find one within your price range. You won’t regret it! – René
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