Our StateroomOne question that is brought up on CC from time to time, is how many people can comfortably fit into my stateroom? I do not believe that this review will answer that questions, comfort and room size requirements is a personal thing but for my family (2 adults, 2 DDs 8 & 13), on this cruise, at this time, the D3 balcony was more than adequate.We have cruised before, lodging in inside cabins, and outside ocean-views, but this was our first balcony stateroom. Having been in these other categories before, I knew that I would need something larger to accommodate us and our two children. Since this was a Mediterranean cruise, I also wanted to have a balcony. A junior suite was $1000 more, which is a significant amount (for us) when added to the other costs of this vacation. At the time, they did not have any connecting balconies available (Category E or D). Another option posed to me (by an RCI rep) was two connecting oceanview rooms on Deck 2 or 3 (only about $200 more than the one balcony) or get a balcony with an inside directly across the hall (I do not remember the price difference, but I immediately ruled it out). Taking everything into consideration, I felt that the 191 square feet, plus the additional room on the balcony (42 sq. ft.) would suit our needs, and I was pretty intent on having a balcony for this itinerary.I selected room #7526, which is a Category D3 - Superior Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony. FYI I had already added a short summary of this stateroom on the RCI Cabin Info Compilation thread at: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=38981986&highlight=7526#post38981 986 .Why the One Balcony Room was Sufficient for My Family:We are a fairly young family with a 13 year old and an 8 year old daughter. If my daughters were old 1 room would probably not work, or if I had one daughter and one son. We really do not require a lot of room nor do we have any mobility issues. Although there is room during the day, when the couch is pulled out, any additional room and walking space is severely limited. This was a port-intensive cruise which would keep us out of the room for most of the day. During the late afternoon and evenings we had planned on seeing shows, getting involved in activities, and the kids attending the teen clubs.Us adults although we did not become involved in as many activities as we had on prior cruises, if we were in the cabin during the afternoon, it was sans the kids. Getting ready for dinner seemed to be the only real busy time, but I made use of the balcony. We did not really get back to the cabin at night until after the show (10-10:30), whereas my DD8 would go to sleep, my DW would watch TV, and I would go out to the balcony DD8 Except for maybe the first day, she was out of the room most of the day until it was time to get ready for dinner, then after returning with us from a show. DD13 Was hardly in the room except getting ready for dinner, and not returning until midnight to almost 1 am each evening. For all mornings were a little crowded since the couch bed was pulled out, but once again, I was up, showered, and ready by the time they got dressed and out on the balcony to give them room. I believed, when booking, that would make use of the balcony. In actuality, I did so more than even I had expected (and loved every minute of it). The balcony also became essential when it was time to get ready in the morning and before dinner. I would be the one to shower & get ready early, I would subsequently sit out on the balcony so the girls could do their thing. It had worked out well for us (and there was no major storm that kept me indoors). Stateroom DescriptionThe room is much larger than any of the rooms (inside/oceanview) than we have had on previous cruises. With the couch closed, there is ample room for the four of us to more around freely, although moving past the bed and through the entranceway (adjoined to the front closet and restroom) could be tight (especially at the beginning and end of the cruise when packing & unpacking). However, we all managed just fine. It also became tight at times to walk around the pulled out couch to get to the balcony (and the use of the desk/chair was impossible). Part of it is also expectations. We have travelled and stayed at some very large hotel suites. We are on a cruise and our expectations were being able to get a clean and comfortable room to sleep and store our items and we went into this with the expectation of the stateroom not being very large.Bed The bed (Royal King) was fairly comfortable (sleeping was not a problem for any of us). It was large enough for us, and even large enough to fit the DW, myself and my DD8 when watching TV. I had no qualms about the bed, or the bedding, and neither did my family. Even the pull-out couch was comfortable to my kids (although too soft for me).Television & Programming Since I mentioned the TV, let me continue by discussing it. The flat screen TVs were nice and crystal clear, and they were able to move around the room for better viewing from the bed (which was off to the side) or the couch (which was directly in front of it). The variety of TV channels was very limited, even for English speaking passengers. There were two movie channels although one always seemed to have some type of RCI commercial or programming on it, and the movie selection was not especially good. There were two childrens stations, but one was for much younger kids (a positive if you have younger kids with you). There were a few non-English stations, and the standard channel with info from the bridge. However, there seemed to be many stations that played RCI programming with all of the port talks and replays of the evenings shows and newlywed game (which must have been on a continuous loop for at least 24 hours). As I mentioned in an above post, the cruise director was everywhere on every one of these RCI stations. On the other hand, we did not spend much time watching TV, so I really cannot complain.Air Conditioner The AC system in this room worked perfectly. Although most days it did not get past the low to mid 80s, the room was always cool, and the system was not even on full blast. For someone like myself that likes it coo, this was of utmost importance to me.Mini-Bar / Fridge We had a little min-bar fridge in our room (Category E balconies do not). I kept my red wine and some bottles of water in the fridge and it actually kept my items cold (a complaint that others have made), and there was room for my items. [When to chill or not chill wines is a discussion for another website, but for fruiter red wines, I prefer them served cool, while I prefer my white wines room temperature (except perhaps slightly chilled for a burgundy or a full bodied chardonnay).][With both the AC and the fridge working better than expected, I was a very happy man.]Vanity Area We really did not use the desk/vanity area much, although the girls did use the mirror for putting on makeup. Once again, we were not in the room much to sit and do any writing, and the area was rendered useless when the couch was opened up as a bed. One thing I did like is that there were two rows of shelves to either side of the mirror that came in handy for storing extra items including all of my travel books.Lighting The lighting in the room was fine (as soon as we were able to figure out which switch controlled which light). With the shade open, there was also plenty of light coming in from the balcony. We did not bring a nightlight with us on this cruise, but because of the small pathways around the beds, and since we had my daughters in the room, we kept the bathroom light on all night (with the bathroom door slightly ajar). At night, it did get pretty dark in the room without that light and we were worried about the kids having to get out of their bed and past ours without hurting themselves (or otherwise would not have used all of that electricity all night). There are no lights out on the balcony (as I have read on CC, this is standard). If there is a light in the room, and with the shade opened slightly, there was decent lighting outside. When the inside light was off, there was usually enough light from the waning moon to see what I was doing which was mostly sitting and listening to my iPod. Outlets Between all of our iPods, Kindles, and digital cameras, we had a sufficient number of outlets for our room for the four of us. Although I must add that both of my DDs did not use their iPods, Kindles, or PS3s very much during the cruise itself (which is the way it should be) but were able to have everything fully recharged for the haul home.Hair Dryer Although I personally did not use the hair dryer, my family did. They did mention that it was not the most high-powered machine they ever used, but it was good enough to do up their hair, even on formal night.Bathroom The bathroom was just as small as I remembered it, although I believe that I have had smaller ones (maybe on the Empress). It had everything I remember, and since it is not a suite, it did not have any of the toiletries except small bars of soap. We did not bring any of our own shampoo (did not want to deal with the amount of liquid items allowed on flights), and used the mystery stuff in the dispenser on the wall. None of us complained about the mystery shampoo it was fine, but more importantly, the pressure from the shower head was fantastic. I will make no exaggerations, the bathroom is tight, but with a little flexibility there was enough room, even for me, to get dressed. Another short note is that the shower curtain is magnetic and mostly stayed in place, but the area within the shower stall is also small and can easily be opened if you knock into it (which may get some water on the bathroom floor). Also remember, there is some storage room in the bathroom to use (for things that may be able to get damp).My only issue with the bathroom was that the hot water from the small wash basin did not freely flow with hot water, and if it did, you had to wait for a minute until it got warm. Balcony Door I am not sure if only applies to my cabin or to all cabins, or if it is an issue with every room, but if the door is not closed just right (and I may have to try two or three times), the wind will seep through (and will create an annoying noise of the air coming through). Also as a side note, I brought clips for the window shades/drapes, but they did not move, so I did not make use of them. When closed at night, the room was almost pitch black.Storage I have to say that all four of us were able to completely empty out our suitcases and place everything into the many spaces within the room. All four of our suitcases fit under the bed which saved us A LOT of space. One tip was to fold all dirty clothing and place it into the suitcases (using one suitcase at a time). This way we were ahead of ourselves when it came time to pack. Also large souvenirs were also placed into a separate suitcase and therefore out of the way. One thing that has to be established is that everyone has to make an extra effort to keep their items neat and organized (my DDs did very well I wish that they would be that good at home). Room Seward I know that some readers do not care who my room Seward is since they are most likely never to have him. [And yes, I did mention how good he was in my survey, and even emailed RCI after the cruise but I also want say so here one more time.] But for those of you that may have Richard from the Philippines, you are getting a great room Seward. When we first got into the room, my DW discovered that there were only towels for two people (a concern because after schlepping around Rome that morning, getting to the ship, and possibly taking a swim that afternoon), we would all most likely be taking showers prior to dinner. [FYI two of our bags were already outside our room by this time with the two others in the hallway near the elevators.] Richard greeted us and introduced himself a few minutes after we had arrived and asked us if we needed anything. We told him about the towels, and also asked him for some ice and a corkscrew. He said he would have everything for us as soon as he could. He had the towels fairly quickly (and this is with being involved in getting everyones luggage to their rooms), and by the time we returned from dinner, he had the ice and corkscrew awaiting us. We also noticed that RCI did not provide us with the cups that came with the beverage package Richard said that the quickest thing to do would be to call the front desk. After calling them, they said no problem, but would I like to go down there and pick it up, or should they send someone up to our room with it (I opted for them to bring it us since I was busy unpacking). Someone brought up the cups in less than a half an hour. During the week Richard was always quick to make up our room, and always seemed to be around in the afternoon to my DD8s chagrin she liked opening the door herself (as she does in hotels), but Richard was always quick and had our door opened for us whenever he saw us walking down the hall. I did not drink the wine on the first night, but before dinner on the second evening, I tried to open a bottle of wine. With my super strength, I broke the corkscrew in the cork, so no wine that evening, and I left the bottle on the vanity table. When we returned from dinner, the bottle of wine was open, a new corkscrew was lying next to it, and he also provided us with two wine glasses. Although we did not make any other requests for the remainder of the cruise, he brought us a fresh bucket of ice each night, and kept our room clean. He was also very courteous and friendly every time we had contact with him. I left him an extra tip and gift at the end of the cruise (ill discuss tipping in a later post).Balcony the balcony itself was fairly clean and included two chairs and a table. There seemed to be ample room for two adults (or even two adults and one kid), however, there was not very much room for all four of us to be out there at the same time for any extended period of time. It was on the balcony where you can see where they did not fully change everything during the refurbishment in February. There were very visible rust stains on the ledge/railing of the balcony.The view was very nice and there was only a very, very, limited obstruction from the canopy from the balconies below and above. Maybe a 5% obstruction from seeing directly below the ship not really very much at all.Benefits of a Balcony (To Me) [Now that I have had a balcony, Ill never go back]There is a thread on CC not long ago discussing the benefits of having an inside cabin over an outside or balcony. Having now been in all three, I can say that there are benefits to each, but now that I have had a balcony, I am hooked. Some of the benefits I prefer a balcony include (once again you may not see these as being benefits, or do not outweigh some of the benefits (e.g., cost) of an inside room):Being one with the Sea Yes, you can go up aboard one of the decks and look over the railing and feel the fresh sea breeze on your face. However, you do not have the same privacy as when you are on a balcony, especially late at night, sitting in the comfort of your area and just chilling out. Although I did not have a glass of wine on the balcony during this trip (it just did not work out), I can also imagine the enjoyment of doing so. It was just so amazing sitting out there in the middle of the ocean. And yes, on previous cruises I have sat out on deck, even in quiet areas, but from personal experience (for me), it is just not the same. Favorite Cruise Memories Some of my favorite memories of my past cruise occurred out on the balcony. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I sat one night with my daughter on my lap trying to make shapes out of the clouds, or watching the pyrotechnic show from a lightning storm miles away on shore. Or as mentioned directly above, sitting out and being one with the Sea. Extra Room The balcony came in very handy in the morning when getting ready for the day and before dinner getting ready for dinner. I got ready early, then left the girls to do their thing while I sat out on the balcony enjoying myself. Without me in the room, they could change and have the extra space to get ready. When DD Went to Sleep. The balcony was a nice place to retreat to when my DD8 went to sleep. She does not like the TV or many lights on, so instead of having to leave the room or sit inside in the darkness, it provided me a place to go, or if I went out there with my DW, we could speak to each other and still be close to my daughter if she needed us. Great Views Pulling into Port. I know that you can look out your port window (most are small), or go up on deck, but while still in your PJs, you can go out on deck and see some magnificent views while pulling into the port (or some great views while actually docked in port). Although we did not use room service on this cruise, I have read that many CC members order in breakfast and eat while watching the views. Everyones needs, wants, and situations are different, and there was nothing wrong with any of the inside or oceanview cabins I have had. However, now that I have experienced a balcony, I am more than likely going to book balconies on future cruises.One day Ill try a suite, and probably turn my back on a balcony.LocationI chose a room that was close to the stairs/elevator and closer to the top of the ship than lower. Room #7526 is on Deck 7. There is only one deck above with guest rooms (Deck 8). There are guestrooms above and below this room, so I do not have to worry about any noises coming from either location. Although when your room right next to an elevator, you can be asking for trouble with all of the noise, by being just a few rooms away (3), you avoid the noise, and still are close enough to them and the stairwell. Deck 7 is also somewhat in the mid-way for the decks with all of the activities that we would attend (three decks from everything) from Deck 4 (Anchors Away Lounge & lower floor of MDR) to Deck 10 (Kid/Teen club & running track) so the elevator was not really needed most of the time.We really do not get sea sick, so the height of the deck did not matter, and being towards the front or the aft did not really matter to us as well (except for being all the way in the front or all the way towards the aft, while not being in the aft itself).For this Mediterranean itinerary, I chose the starboard (right) side instead of port (left). Although one can never really predict what angle the ship may dock, the ship will be mostly cruising from east to west, so for most of the cruise, my room would be facing towards the coastline. It was a decent gamble, and I think it paid off with both the views while the ship was moving, and some great views while in port.SummaryIn summary, we were very happy with our stateroom, and I would not hesitate to get another similar balcony room again. The kids were okay in the room (my DD13 was hardy in it), and we had no real complaints.