Observed Onboard: Are Balconies Becoming Bittier?

August 2, 2013 | By | 20 Comments

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.

    Comments

    20 Responses to “Observed Onboard: Are Balconies Becoming Bittier?”

    1. Diana Hershberger
      August 7th, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

      I like a balcony that is large enough for a chaise. Otherwise, what is the point of paying for a balcony?

      On Celebrity (Century) I booked a Concierge class balcony. Not only was the balcony no larger, but the difference (100 each) only got us fresh fruit (duh, I can walk and get the fruit that I want) and fresh flowers every few days. Hardly a value. I was really disappointed, BUT I loved Celebrity. I will stay with them, but just book a balcony, not concierge.

    2. Joyce
      August 7th, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

      I am with the people who love their balcony. I go on a cruise to sit on my balcony and let my worries slide away with the waves.
      You can be sure that the ships with the small balconies will not be on my list when I pick my next cruise. After all that’s why we pay extra to have the balcony, isn’t?????

    3. MOREEN B. CULP
      August 7th, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

      IT’S HARD ENOUGH BEING SQUEEZED INTO A SMALL STATEROOM WITH ANOTHER PERSON. BUT YOU PAY A LOT FOR A BALCONY AND IF YOU CAN’T GET TWO LOUNGE CHAIRS RECLINING AT THE SAME TIME, (AND MOST TIMES YOU CAN’T), THEN I DON’T SEE WHY I SHOULD CRUISE. I LIKE MY PRIVACY AS WELL AS SPACE. WHEN I WANT TO MINGLE, I DO.

      ON THE EPIC, I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE ROOM TO HANG ALL MY CLOTHES. THE BATHROOM WAS IN FULL VIEW OF THE FRONT DOOR.

      THE ALLURE, I WAS PROMISED A WINDOW. I GOT THE WINDOW ALL RIGHT, VIEWING THE HELICOPTER STRIP.

      I AM STILL LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT ROOM. RUNNING OUT OF $$$.

    4. MOREEN B. CULP
      August 7th, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

      Rooms are too small.
      No privacy.
      Balconies are very small. Two people don’t fit at the same time.

      There should be NO SMOKING OR SMOKERS GO ALL TO THEMSELVES. aLSO, FOOD SHOULD BE EDIBLE AT ALL RESTAURANTS…NOT JUST THE ONES U PAY FOR.

    5. peggy and john smith
      August 7th, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

      who cares???
      book an inside cabin and go on more cruises
      68 and counting under my belt
      you sleep, shower, and dress in there
      why pay for more?

    6. Eastcoastkm
      August 7th, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

      A decent size balcony means you can fit a chair facing the ocean without your knees banging up against the rail. And you can walk around the person sitting out there. And you can possibly fit more than 2 people and a decent table. I have followed the Princess Royal balcony comments and will definitely make sure that I thoroughly review balcony and room sizes from now on. Not all of us want to be at those hoppin’ crowded spots 24/7. But I think for first time cruisers who may be the target market, they won’t know the difference. I do know the difference and will be more selective. I like to sit out and enjoy the PRIVACY and peacefulness of the balcony. My vacation doesn’t always include proximity to 3000 of my new best friends. :)

    7. Sheryl
      August 7th, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

      We book balconies because we DO spent time on them – we don’t always want to be out and about with others – we do like to order or bring something to the cabin to eat/drink and enjoy on our balcony. We travel with our children – we would like to be able to spend time as a family relaxing on our balcony. We DO DO more in our cabin than just sleep, shower and dress. We used to book mini’s on Princess – those balconies are great for 4. Last cruise we had a balcony on Aloha deck and found the balcony way too small for the 4 of us, heck even 2 of us felt cramped given how narrow it was. Next cruise we snagged a Caribe deck balcony cabin – we expect that will be better.
      The lack of pools and small balconies means we will NEVER cruise Royal or any future Princess ships configured that way.
      That’s just the way we like to spend our time onboard.

    8. faye hayden
      August 7th, 2013 @ 5:37 pm

      We go on cruises a lot as we live right by the port….have been on over 35 cruises and only have had one tiny balcony…for the difference in price e now do inside cabins only…can’t see paying hundreds od $$$ more for standing room only…besides the swimming pool and hot tubs are not close enough to your balcony..We enjoy meeting ppl and talking..

    9. Lynette
      August 7th, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

      Thanks for all comments. I still love the Balcony.

    10. Sue
      August 7th, 2013 @ 9:11 pm

      I always stay in a room with a balcony. The ones I have been on are small. Have two chairs and a table. Its good enough for us. We love having our coffee in the morning looking out at the sea. Also enjoy a few drinks in early evening. Need to feel the fresh air. It doesn’t bother me that they are small. If you need to lounge go down by the pool.

    11. David E. Kay
      August 7th, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

      I’m surprised at some of these comments. If a person is going on a cruise, you should research or check out where your stateroom is. All ships have deck plans available, so look for suitable ones before you put down your money. I always decide the stateroom category, location and number before I book a cruise. Never rely on somebody else to pick your cabin for you, and pay attention to the square footage in deciding which to book. Watch out that the balcony size is included in the room square footage (which means the room itself is smaller) or is mentioned separately. Balcony staterooms are greatly overrated. In most of the ones I’ve had, the balcony was either too cold, too hot, or too windy to be enjoyable. You can always sit in a lounge somewhere or go topside and sit in a chair if you want to be outside. Book an Ocean View stateroom instead, provided the room is at least 160 sq. ft.

    12. Arthur Loev
      August 8th, 2013 @ 10:40 am

      We were on NCL’s Breakaway on its inaugural cruise from NYC to Bermuda. Many people remarked at how small the verandahs were. Hard to both sit out and eat. I like sitting out at night – thus like larger verandah.

    13. Karen
      August 8th, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

      We are going on NCL’s Breakaway this Sunday. I was looking forward to the Aft balcony stateroom, but now I am discouraged after reading about the tiny balcony. I am not a frequent cruiser but if I go again I will check out the size of the balcony AND the bathroom!

    14. Sally
      August 8th, 2013 @ 11:02 pm

      We just returned from an Alaska Cruise on HAL Volendam. We had a Promenade deck forward Veranda room. Despite the chill (room had woolen blankets for our use on the veranda) we enjoyed the fresh air and watching the views from there, reading a book or sipping a drink. We had room for 2 chairs (we took one out of the room) and one chaise and small table and the door still opened! What ruined it was the SMOKERS! If not a non-smoking ship, how about a non-smoking SIDE so those who cannot tolerate the stench can enjoy their “fresh air” and views?

    15. Howard
      August 9th, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

      Look at the Carnival Spirit class ships. I had an odd cabin that had a balcony that was 180 sq ft (yes 180). There are a few cabins on the port side on each deck that the balcony extends behind the room steward storage. As a result, we had a balcony that was 30 ft long x 6 feet wide. We had 2 chaise recliners, 3 chairs and 2 tables. Carnival has several ships that have extended balconies as well that are very reasonably priced.

    16. Mark
      August 9th, 2013 @ 9:38 pm

      Speaking of the Carnival Spirit class and balconies, the aft wraparound balcony is like almost none other. HUGE and private, with a 270 degree view. It’s also warm and not windy in the back. Just had one on the Miracle to Alaska. It’s a suite room, but reasonably priced. I was pretty much on my balcony for most of the cruise. I’m now forever spoiled on balconies…darn!

    17. Sandy
      August 12th, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

      Love all HAL ships. The balconies are just
      the right size for the two of us. Going to
      Alaska in September on the Oosterdam and we,
      of course, have a balcony. On any other
      cruiselines an oceanview is OK!

    18. Joanna
      October 20th, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

      My husband and I are young but we sail HAL, because we love spending our time on the balcony. We get the aft suite, yes it costs more but it’s a huge, private wrap around balcony. We also pre-book every meal at the specialty restaurants because we know we want a great food/service experience.

      We don’t want 4 mediocre cruises every year or two. We want one great experience together, not with a bunch of strangers queued up. Everytime I see a deal for another cruise line I check their balcony size and I can’t bring myself to trade the HAL experience. Sitting on the balcony, watching the sunset over the ocean with the man I love, while drinking champagne and enjoying canapes … now that’s a vacation.

    19. wayne
      December 4th, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

      We just sailed on the Royal Princess.I read the reviews about the small balconies on this ship before departing.It’s actually smaller than I imagined,I booked a mini-suite,and the balcony is the same size as the smaller cabins.I always book a balcony room(about 55 cruises),just plan on checking the weather and standing only.The cabin was very nice,the bathroom had a tub and was roomy.It is also true that there is no middle staircase above deck 7.That was a major mistake.

    20. Barbie
      December 26th, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

      You only have to be confined for over 48 hrs. in an oceanview cabin with the Noro Virus, to realize just how fanastic a balcony can be. You never think it will happen to you, but recently on a Princess cruise, this did happen to me. It would have made the time pass so much quicker, and be more enjoyable if only I could have had fresh air. Talk about feeling trapped! And on the Princess line, there is no sofa on which to sit and read, unless you have opted for a mini-suite! I will only book a balcony in the future, no matter how big or small. It’s still fresh air (for the most part)

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