The ocean wind in your hair, shimmering blue vistas before you; for many cruisers, nothing but a balcony will do. But increasingly, it seems, the real estate dedicated to private decks has been dwindling, particularly on some of the newest ships.
On Norwegian Breakaway, for example, Cruise Critic noted that even in the mini-suites, balconies were “much smaller” than you’d find on Norwegian Cruise Line’s older ships, with room for little more than a “stool-sized table and two chairs.” And Royal Princess passengers not only expressed privacy concerns with cabin balconies located under the see-through Skywalk but also their reduced size — 41 square feet on average, even for mini-suites.
Norwegian does not break out cabin balcony sizes on their website. At the Breakaway inaugural, line president Kevin Sheehan said that a company survey showed cruisers use other areas of the ship more than their balconies, so they were made smaller. (The cabin bathrooms, for example, are more spacious on Breakaway than they were on Epic).
Both ships are packed with activities and hopping public spaces, so passengers have plenty to be excited about. That’s not necessarily enough, according to some of our members. Bitty balconies have brought up quite a brouhaha on Cruise Critic’s Norwegian and Princess boards. Says jeanS, “I love Princess but I have cancelled my booked Royal cruises. Everyone has different priorities and mine on a cruise include a promenade deck, decent size balconies and an aft pool. I cruise to enjoy being on the water…comments from the early cruisers convinced me I would not be happy on this ship.”
Others see the puny porticos as another way that cruise lines nickel and dime passengers. Notes JimmyVWine, “smaller balconies were intended to force people off of them and spend more time up top. The more time you spend out of your cabin, the more money you are likely to spend.”
Despite the grumblings, passengers should expect more of the same for new build sister ships, including Getaway (launching in January 2014) and Regal Princess (June 2014). Spokespeople for the lines confirmed that the balcony sizes would not change.
One line bucking the trend: Royal Caribbean. The balcony square footage aboard its November 2014 launch, the Quantum of the Seas, looks to be larger than those on Oasis of the Seas or Allure of Seas. Add in the “virtual balconies” that interior staterooms will have, and outdoor aficionados might not want to leave their cabin.