“Do I need a balcony stateroom?”
It’s one of the most frequently-asked questions we get, and as with many aspects of cruising, the answers aren’t always clear-cut. After all, some cruisers simply wouldn’t travel unless they could have a balcony stateroom. We’ve heard from and have met others that prize their balconies in any weather condition simply for the opportunity to step outside and get some fresh air.
So rather than trying to come up with a simple one-size-fits-all answer, we’ve developed some criteria you can ask yourself if you’re on the fence about upgrading from that inside or ocean view stateroom to the wonders of the balcony stateroom.
How Much More Will It Cost?
The first thing most of us will look at is cost. Obviously, if the difference is minimal – a few hundred dollars per person, let’s say – then it makes great sense to book it! A balcony cabin at an attractive price is a bit like checking in for your flight and finding out you can purchase a cheapie upgrade to Business Class.
If the balcony cabin starts skyrocketing up in price, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons. This can be particularly true if the ship has few balcony staterooms onboard; ships with only a handful of balconies are forced to charge more per person. It all goes back to supply and demand: a balcony stateroom onboard Holland America Line’s Veendam would, on a comparable itinerary, cost more than a balcony aboard the larger, newer Nieuw Amsterdam. The reason? Veendam simply has fewer balconies – and everybody wants one.
What Itinerary Are You Sailing On?
Are you on a port-intensive cruise or one with plenty of sea days? Unless you plan on never getting off the ship in port, a port-heavy cruise will mean less time spent onboard – and even less time spent in your stateroom.
Sailings with a healthy mix of sea days or scenic cruising days are the best voyages to splurge for the balcony stateroom. Sailing through the Norwegian fjords, the Stockholm Archipelago, Canada & New England in the fall on sailings that travel along the St. Lawrence River … these are just a few of the itineraries where having a balcony can be an advantage.
Deck space on voyages with a lot of scenic cruising can get pretty competitive. Having a balcony to retreat to when you’re sailing the Geirangerfjord in Norway, for example, can be a huge bonus. It’s private, spacious, and no one is jamming a telephoto camera lens into your back. At least, we hope not.
Conversely, unless you’re into the sun in a big way, Caribbean sailings may not be the best to splurge for the balcony. Between the sun, the heat and the humidity, you might find yourself driven back indoors, or to a shaded spot on the outer decks.
How’s The Weather?
Of course, weather can’t be predicted more than a few days ahead for any cruise, but you can gauge the overall weather conditions of a given region.
The appeal of the balcony in warm-weather regions is understandable. But if you’re a sun-seeker, you’re probably not going to spend the time on your balcony you think you are: At a certain point in the day, your balcony will pass into the shade, which means you’ll be headed topside to the Pool Deck like everyone else to catch those final rays.
But don’t think that balconies are just good for warm-weather cruises; we particularly enjoy having a balcony while sailing through Alaska. In fact, we think it’s a must. Not only does it give you your own private space for enjoying scenic cruising through places like the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay, but a balcony is also remarkably cozy. Curl up with a blanket and a hot drink and watch Mother Nature glide past in all her glory.
Also consider that, on some cruises, having a balcony might be a disadvantage. If you’re doing a winter transatlantic crossing, for example, the amount of time you’re likely going to use your balcony will be minimal thanks to cold temperatures and high winds.
If You Want The Balcony Because You Want To Sleep With The Door Open …
… you may want reconsider. While cruise lines don’t specifically ban leaving your balcony door open at night, the vast majority will try to discourage the practice for the simple reason that it tends to mess with the ship’s air conditioning systems in a big, bad way.
So – Should I Get A Balcony?
If you are on a budget, save your money for other things. Splurge on a few more shore excursions, buy a nicer bottle of wine to enjoy at dinner, sign up for a spa treatment. But I f you can afford it and you like the idea, yes, of course – having your own private piece of deck is a wonderful thing, even if you only use it sporadically. Balconies certainly can add a tad more bliss to your time at sea.