PHOTO: Balconies on Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Explorer. (photo by Jason Leppert)
You’ve finally selected that cruise vacation you want. Most importantly, you’ve chosen which cruise line and what ship, specifically.
But there’s still one last choice to make.
Will you shell out the extra cash to pay for a balcony cabin over a standard outside-view stateroom or even an inside one?
Back in the day, balcony cabins were few and far between. Most cruise ship cabins were interiors or had windows, but a veranda was considered premium and was often reserved only for suites.
Now, they are far more common. In fact, there are several current ships that only offer balcony accommodations, (which makes the decision easy for you).
The vast remainder of new ships are at least predominated by verandas. Just look up at the sides of most new-builds: Standing before you is a veritable sea of balcony railings lining the massive superstructure. The benefit of such ubiquity is that the price for a coveted balcony room has gone down substantially, though they do still cost more than an equivalent room with only a window or no outside view at all.
The question, of course, is whether any such premium is worth it, especially when so little time is actually spent in the cabin versus out on deck—where there is plenty of other outdoor spaces to be enjoyed.
The easy answer is to say, yes, a balcony is a wonderful feature to splurge for.
As much as cruise ships are becoming destinations unto themselves, we still travel on them to seek out actual destinations, and balconies are what most directly connect private accommodations with both ports of call and the sea. You can enjoy the refreshing spray of the ocean in your face as you simply read a book or enjoy an al fresco meal courtesy of room service away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the ship.
READ MORE: Cruising 101: Choosing an Ocean Cruise Line
No matter where you are traveling during any given season, a balcony is a great way to test the weather before dressing accordingly for the day.
In the Caribbean, it can be one of the best places to catch a setting sun. In Alaska, it can be the prime spot to watch the tree-lined mountains of the Inside Passage meander by.
However, in the Caribbean, it can be too hot and humid to fully enjoy. In Alaska, it might be too cold and rainy to want to stay out for very long. Also, consider that not all balconies are created equal. Some are sprawling, with plenty of room to roam, while others are postage stamp-sized with little space to spread out. Some can be well sheltered away from the elements with plenty of shade, and some can be entirely exposed.
READ MORE: Cruising 101: Selecting an Ocean Cruise Ship
The key is to do your research and know exactly what kind of veranda experience you’re in for.
A good travel agent can point you towards the right cabin located in the most ideal location onboard to maximize all conditions.
In the end, it’s likely going to depend on the itinerary as to whether or not you find a balcony worth the premium in price. Even the toasty Caribbean and chilly Alaskan ones absolutely remain contenders. Verandas are great to still put sunscreen on in the former, and you can always bundle up to take advantage of them in the latter. (But, yes, temperate climates are the ideal ones for balcony cabins.)
Or there are now virtual balconies as yet another option entirely to consider.
This post appeared first on TravelPulse.