Hump, twin, sweet 16? No, nothing to do with identical camels celebrating a rite of passage. These are nicknames and marketing speak for cruising's less common -- but unusually well-loved -- balcony cabins. We've waded deep in the message boards and cruise line media galleries to unearth examples of at-sea accommodations affording views of the wake, a zip-line and your neighbors above.
The Cabin: The Aft
The Ship: Various
There are countless aft men and women on the Cruise Critic message boards, including The Grumpus, who snapped this shot on Carnival Pride. Among other things, these stern lovers gush over the ability to meditate on the frothy white trail of water extending into infinity. The vast majority of ships have wake-facing cabins, so it's a matter of picking the vessel, then finding the right accommodation on a deck plan.
Old salts and Celebrity loyalists know about the "Sweet Sixteen," eight port and eight starboard balcony cabins found on the line's Millennium-class quartet. Though the balconies are much larger than the average, the Sweet Sixteen are priced as Category 2C cabins -- the cheapest balconied accommodations on the ship. Just don't use the nickname when booking. "If you call Celebrity, or most TA's, they won't have a clue what you are talking about," writes Lsimon, who created the graphic.
Europe-based riverboats are built long, sleek and low-slung, designed out of the necessity to squeeze under stout medieval bridges and through narrow canal locks. Thus, they typically don't feature full-sized balconies, opting instead for French balconies -- basically a glass door that opens to a railing. There are some exceptions. AMAWATERWAYS recently introduced the "Twin Balcony," which couples a French balcony with a demi-version of the real thing. Viking's newest boats, the Longships, feature a similar offering.
Introduced on Carnival Dream, the Coves (Main Deck, category 7C) feature semi-enclosed balconies situated some 25 feet from the waterline. "There's something about being that close to the water that is just so mesmerizing and calming at the same time," writes Cove aficionado aggiesastrosfan. "I think it really makes you feel like you're out on the open water vs. viewing the water from up high." Credit saltybones with capturing that sentiment.
Princess' Grand-class ships are known for their large number of mini-suites (category AA, AB, AC and AE), basically glorified balcony cabins with some bonus indoor and outdoor space. But the Dolphin Deck minis add something else. Because part of the ship's superstructure is "stepped," the cabins on this deck are exposed to the sky and the prying eyes of fellow passengers above. A Cruise Critic reader staying in one had an interesting solution: She brought a beach umbrella.
Crown Princess Cruise Fares:
The Cabin: The Hump
The Ships: Various
Many modern cruise ships have undulating superstructures. The "wave" running port and starboard creates variation in balcony sizes, so savvy cruisers can snag a cabin that falls within a certain category, but has bonus balcony space. Pictured left is a shot of Cabin 1608, a hump on Celebrity Solstice, taken by subtchr. His son, who paid the same price, is next door (or at least his leg is) on the smaller verandah.
It's basically a hump variation, but the angled balcony (9192) on Celebrity's Solstice-class quartet, taken by kimcheeboy, is unusually enclosed. For those intent on mixing privacy with sea breezes, it certainly fits the bill, but not everyone is convinced. "Sorry, but I love bright, open cabins," writes Presto2. " I would be gutted if I walked into this."
Royal Caribbean's 5,400-passenger Oasis-class twins boast countless unique-to-cruise features. One of them is a zip-line, which whips cruisers diagonally over the "Boardwalk" neighborhood (nine decks below) from one side of the hollowed-out stern section to the other. The unique corridor carved lengthwise from the stern forward made way for the industry's only in-facing balconies, and a handful of passengers are afforded an unmatched view. Photo was snapped by ustworcrew2.
Carving an open air alley lengthwise down the center of the 225,282-ton Oasis-class ships allows for cruising's only "inward-facing" balcony cabins. Some of these offer a view of both the sky and the ships' restaurant- and retail-heavy Central Park, a foliage-rich green space nurturing 12,000 tropical plants, 60 trees and a fertile "living wall." The obligatory piped in bird chirps accompany the genuine flora.
Still, it's not always as idyllic as it sounds. Passengers looking to read quietly on a Central Park balcony during a sunny sea day may find their senses assaulted from above by the pool band's reggae stylings, transforming his or her mood from irie to irate.
Fans of Tinker Bell, the Seven Dwarfs or Jiminy Cricket might call Disney Dream and Fantasy's notorious cabin 5188 "cute." They might even say "aww" the first time they set toe on it. That's because it's one of the smallest private verandahs we've seen at sea (32 square feet, says Disney), so diminutive that only a short bench can occupy the al fresco space (rather than the traditional setup of two chairs and a table). While the size of the balcony may disappoint those looking to do more than lean over the railing or chat (standing up) with a tiny advice-dispensing cricket, the views of the ships' trailing wake will have you muttering hakuna matata.
Disney Dream Cruise Fares:
The Cabin: The Corner Aft
The Ship(s): Various
Seasoned cruisers know that "corner aft cabins" -- close relatives of the traditional uni-directional wake-facers -- sell out quickly thanks to al fresco real estate that wraps around the stern, providing unobstructed views of the ship's trail and any port- or starboard-side scenery. Reader Thomas Nicolai-vargas, who works at Sir Winston's, a restaurant on the classic cruise liner turned floating hotel Queen Mary, lauded the L-shaped variety found on the Vista Deck of Carnival's Spirit-class ships. These coveted cabins feature 220-square-foot balconies (compared to 245 square feet of indoor space).
Credit Allan F with capturing what it's all about (especially in Alaska). Corner aft cabins are staple accommodations on many, many ships, so consult your applicable deck plan for details.
Carnival Spirit Cruise Fares:
The Cabin: The Hot Tub
The Ship(s): Various
Holland America's 1,300-square-foot Penthouse Veranda Suites (found on Eurodam, Noordam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Oosterdam, Westerdam and Zuiderdam) have zig-zag teak-lined balconies with their own hot tubs and an inset banquette for alfresco lounging or dining. A handful of other top shelf accommodations, including the Royal Suites on Celebrity Cruises' Millennium- and Solstice-class ships have roomy, whirlpool-topped verandahs.
These exclusive cabins will run cruisers $1,100 to $3,000+ per night, but not all hot-tubbed balconies are budget busters. Norwegian Sky's forward-facing Owner's Suite, as showcased by member mcdebbie, can be yours starting from a more modest $450 per person, per night on a three- or four-night Bahamas sailing out of Miami.
Europe-based Costa Cruises is a trendsetter in the "spa" accommodation movement -- clustering specially designed cabins around the wellness complex. (Carnival, Celebrity and HAL now all offer such cabins.) Besides the design distinctions (read "Oriental" artwork, linens, etc.), passengers in Samsara cabins have private access to self-treatment rooms and an exclusive restaurant, and cabins come equipped with robes, spa toiletries ... and, if you're in a wake-facing Samsara Suite, this solarium-style "balcony." Claustrophobic rather than calming? Stifling rather than salubrious? Some might say that. We won't argue, except to add that the sloped wall of windows (left) can be opened to let in sea breezes.
The Oasis-class AquaTheater Suites feature almost as much outdoor space as indoor, and the 600- to 800-square foot wraparound balconies overlook the ships' amphitheater, a hydraulics-laden, kidney-shaped pool with 2,000 water nozzles and detachable rope ladders. From the balcony, you have front row seats to watch Schwarzenegger types bending each other into pretzels, gymnasts flipping around on trampolines, and high divers floating and twisting down from great heights. That view comes with a hefty price though -- as in it starts at $700 per person, per day.