When we received the room assignment we were concerned because it is a bit forward. However, that was not a problem for us. Like most of the ship, the room is showing some wear, but it was comfortable and clean. Our attendants did a great job of maintaining the room. The "partial sea view" mentioned on the HAL website comes from the fact that we are on the lower promenade deck, and set back from the perimeter for the ship. Looking straight out you get a fine view of the sea. One caution... The room is located beneath the Showroom of the Sea stage. While you won't hear crowd noise, you will hear loudly played music. If you stay up until 11 or so, it's a non-issue.
deck 5 cabins have the beds under the promenade deck 6. Usually not a problem unless there are very keen power walkers or runners (which is not allowed) at 6 am. I almost went out in my pyjamas to chew them out!
686 is quite far aft, so you get engine noise and thrusters when coming into port. Not a big problem, however, for people who like to know when we are getting into port. Read entire member review.
Spacious with queen bed, sofa, tub shower, flat screen TV. Novel loft area between bed and Porthole could sleep two kids! The loft is as large as a Verandah about three feet high. You can't see through the portholes very well but it is better than no windows at all and this cabin class isn't much more than inside cabin. Although very front of ship there was no sea motion. A couple of times ship noise happened: in port the thrusters came on and when winching the ship lines you hear the motors. A couple of times the ocean waves slapped at the hull and you can hear that very well in this cabin. Not far from the forward elevators where the service was fast.