Biggest Mistakes when booking a balcony stateroom

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Biggest Mistakes when booking a balcony stateroom

Every time you book a cruise a decision is made on what type of cabin to book.  Often it comes down to price, but if the price is right most cruisers would choose a balcony cabin.  However not all balcony cabins are created equal, and sometimes all that extra money we spend on a balcony may end up with us feeling unsatisfied with the end product.  Here are some common things to watch over when booking balcony cabins.

Balcony Mistake Number 1: Lack of Privacy
We often assume that a balcony will give us a private spot to hang out on the ship.  If privacy is a concern then be aware that some balconies offer little or no privacy.  Here is a picture of the balcony of a mini-suite on the Caribbean Princess from the balcony above.  Although it is a good size balcony, there is zero privacy.
Caribbean Princess Mini-Suite
Here is a picture of a balcony cabin on deck 11 aft on the Norwegian Dawn.  Notice that the balcony dividers go up at a slant.  This means that you can easily peer into your neighbors balcony and they can also peer into yours.
Norwegian Dawn Deck 11 Balcony
Here is the picture of a balcony on the Lido deck on the Grand Princess.  Notice the nice view of the bridge.  Well the bridge also has a nice view of the balcony.
Grand Princess L206 Cabin
Here is a picture of the balcony of an expensive suite on a Princess ship.  Notice that the balcony actually overlooks the top of the bridge deck.  Passengers at times are allowed on that deck and when that happens not only do you have an obstructed view, you have no privacy.
Emerald Princess L107

Balcony Mistake Number 2: Too Small
Some modern cruise ships balconies are so small that the chairs can only fit in one direction.
Here is a picture of of a balcony on the Norwegian Breakaway.  There is little space to maneuver around on this balcony.  Even the table is miniature in order to fit.  Some newer Princess ships share the same design.
Norwegian Breakaway Balcony

On the 13th deck of the MSC Divina you will find these small, narrow balconies.
MSC Divina Deck 13 Aft Balcony

Balcony Mistake Number 3: Obstructed View
Lifeboats, support poles, metal roofs can obstruct the view of many balconies.  
Here is a picture of a the view from a nice aft balcony on the Explorer of the Seas.  In front of the balcony is a metal platform and it is surrounded by a metal frame.
Explorer of the Seas Aft Balcony
Here is another view from the balcony of deck 6 aft on the Voyager of the Seas.
Voyager of the Seas Aft Balcony

You can generally see the above obstruction on the deck plans.  But other obstructions are hard to tell without looking at actual ship pictures.  For example here is cabin 7014 on the Celebrity Summit.  Notice how far back the balcony is from the edge of the ship and notice the large wall right next to this balcony.
Celebrity Summit 7014 View 1

You can see that other balconies in the same area also have beams obstructing part of the view.
Celebrity Summit 7014 view 2

Here is a close up of some balconies on the Celebrity Silhouette.  Notice that some balconies actually have a metal lip in front of them that extends out several feet.  This obstructs the view down.  For those who like to sit at the edge of the balcony looking down this pictures also shows some balconies that do that.  However notice that a couple of those will not be as private.
Silhouette Side View

Balcony Mistake Number 4: Too little or too much sun
Sometimes balconies located directly below the pool deck (often call Lido deck) have a overhang above them that will restrict the amount of sun light comes on to the balcony.  This is okay if you want shade.  Here is a picture of the overhang from cabin 9094 on Celebrity Infinity.  Notice that this cabin also has a window washer platform in front of it.
Celebrity Infinity Deck 9 Balcony

Here is a picture of a balcony on the Norwegian Breakaway.  Notice the lack of privacy.  But this balcony also is in the hot afternoon sun.  This is okay when cruising in cooler weather, but when cruising during hot summer months you may want to choose to be located on the side of the ship opposite the afternoon sun if you want to be able to sit out on your balcony during that time. (This requires knowing the direction the ship is heading, in relation to the sun, on sea days)
Norwegian Breakaway Balcony

Balcony Mistake Number 5: Soot, vents and bakery smells
We enjoyed a penthouse suite on the back of the Norwegian Star, but every day while we were out there it smelled like a bakery.  Obviously the smoke from the ship vents need to go somewhere, and aft cabins are usually the place it goes.  On the Crown Princess cruise ship vents are located right next to the aft balconies.  These vents are usually loud when running so don't expect it to be to quiet if you are relaxing on a the balcony right next to it.
Crown Princess Vents

It is common to hear of reports of soot on the aft balconies of some of the larger cruise ships.  Here are some pictures of ash covered balconies.
Ash on balcony

Ash on balcony

The bottom line is that if you want to spend some money on a balcony cabin then take some time and research the choices to make sure it is money well spent.  The more time you spend researching, the more you will enjoy your balcony when you actually cruise.  If you don't have time to research then turn to an experienced cruise agent to help you out.

Steve Millay, ACC


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