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Cruise Balcony vs. Suite: A Cabin Comparison (Photos: Cruise Critic)
Cruise Balcony vs. Suite: A Cabin Comparison (Photos: Cruise Critic)

Cruise Balcony vs. Suite: A Cabin Comparison

You're ready to splurge on a spacious cruise cabin, but how do you choose between a cruise balcony vs. a suite? Cruise ships have many options for high-end rooms, so it's best to assess what you'll get and compare that with what you need or desire in a home-away-from-home at sea.

Updated January 4, 2019

Cruise Balcony vs. Suite: Similarities

Costa Fascinosa Balcony Cabin (Photo: Costa Cruises)

All upper-tier cruise cabins will offer basic furnishings: two twin beds that can convert to a queen or king, a desk/vanity, sitting area, ensuite bathroom and storage space via a combination of closets, drawers and shelves. All cruise ship balcony cabins and the majority of suites offer private verandas, outfitted with places to sit and at least a small table. Both room types are typically found on the upper decks of most ships and offer scenic ocean views.

Standard amenities include televisions, telephones, hair dryers and safes. With the exception of family-oriented rooms, most suites and balcony cabins are set up for two passengers but might offer pull-out sofas or pull-down bunks to sleep a few more people. Both cabin categories are popular and can sell out quickly, especially on peak-season itineraries.

Cruise Balcony vs. Suite: Differences

The Reflection Suite on Celebrity Reflection (Photo: Cruise Critic)

The main differences between cruise ship balcony staterooms and suites are size, perks and price. The interior portion of balcony cabins is usually the same size as most other cabins; they tend to be just large enough to fit a bed, couch and desk with minimal space to walk around. Cruise suites can range from a tad larger than balcony cabins to enormous, multilevel rooms that might be bigger that your home or apartment. Bathrooms will also be spacious, possibly with a tub or dual sinks, and storage space might be expanded to a walk-in closet.

The range of possible balcony cabin sizes on any given ship will be quite small, while suite sizes can vary greatly. In addition, the private verandas found in suites can be huge, with enough space for a hot tub, several loungers or a dining table, compared with regular balconies that fit just two upright chairs and a small table for drinks.

Standard balconies don't receive any special perks. If you book an upgraded class of balcony -- such as a spa cabin or concierge cabin -- you might get a limited selection of perks, such as afternoon canapes, upgraded toiletries or even access to exclusive dining venues. If you want the most extras, book a suite for amenities like butler and concierge service, priority embarkation and tendering, exclusive access to certain lounges and dining venues, free or discounted laundry and Internet, and private parties and happy hours.

Of course, added space and amenities means higher costs for suites, and fares for the most elaborate suites onboard can be quite astronomical.

Cruise Balcony vs. Suite: Bottom Line

Book a balcony cabin if you want a standard room with a bit more space and a private outdoor area for easy access to fresh air. They're best for cruisers with a more constrained budget; if you've got a bit more to spend, investigate special balcony cabins that offer a few more perks.

Book a suite if you want a more luxurious cruise experience, want extra space with separate living and sleeping areas and large bathrooms, and will use and enjoy the offered perks. You should be ready to pay high fares for these rooms, but the value can be worth the money.

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How To Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin: What You Need to Know
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel: Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks It's the permutations (size, view, location, amenities and price, for example) of the four basic cabin types that can make choosing difficult. In addition to knowing your cabin options, you need to know yourself: Do you tend to get seasick? Do you prefer to nest peaceably on your balcony rather than hanging with the crowd around the pool area? Conversely, is your idea of a stateroom simply a place to flop into bed at 1 a.m. -- no fancy notions necessary? Are there certain amenities you are willing to splurge on, or can you simply not justify paying for unnecessary perks? The answers will help guide you toward selecting the best stateroom for your money. If you're feeling overwhelmed by choice, we'll help you get started with this guide to choosing the best cruise cabins for you and your travel party.
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