For years, we cruised in inside cabins, reasoning that we'd only be in our room to shower and sleep, anyway. If we wanted fresh air, we went to one of the outside decks. But then it happened: We ended up in a cabin with veranda, and it was heaven. Seriously, who needs a balcony? We do, that's who.
"But, wait," you say. "If I'm going to pay more for a stateroom with a balcony, I want to know exactly why it's worth the money." Fair enough. Below, we've listed the top seven reasons why you, too, should book a balcony cabin on your next cruise.
1. Fresh Air
Sometimes you just need to recharge, and there's nothing like having sea breezes just steps away from where you're trying to nap, read or watch a movie. To be clear, we aren't suggesting that you should leave your balcony door open while you do those things, as it can negatively impact the ship's air-conditioning system, but it's nice to be able to feel the wind in your hair and hear the sounds of the ocean -- without having to leave your room. Further, fresh air is great for anyone prone to seasickness, as is the ability to stare at the horizon; being able to do that from the comfort of your cabin is a plus when you're feeling less than stellar.
Even if you aren't cruising to a bucket list destination, there's still something to be said for staring at the starry night sky while in the middle of the ocean. If you are sailing to someplace where the scenery during the day is likely to be just as awesome as the skies at night, you won't have to jockey with other cruisers for a decent view if you've got your own balcony. On our Panama Canal voyage, people started lining up on the outer decks as early as 5 a.m. on the day of our transit. When the crowds reached four and five passengers deep, we retreated to our cabin to enjoy a look at the canal walls and the mechanisms that made the whole operation work. On an Alaska sailing, we were on our balcony when whales were breeching in the distance, and on a Norway trip, we saw Geirangerfjord and Trollfjord from the comfort of our cabin without having to fight the masses for killer photo ops.
3. Privacy ... Sort of
Whether you want to read in peace or sunbathe sans onlookers, cruise balcony cabins are ideal for alfresco alone time on a ship full of people. Just be warned: Some verandas are tiered, so be careful about engaging in any sort of inappropriate behavior, lest you be spotted by fellow passengers on decks above yours or by people ashore if you're docked or near land. Total serenity isn't guaranteed, either, since you never know just how rowdy the folks in the next cabin might be, but your chances are better than if you venture to, say, the bustling pool deck to enjoy that fruity cocktail outdoors.
4. Wake-up Calls and Post-Shower Cooldowns
On a recent Mediterranean cruise in the fall, we discovered that the chilly morning air was great for brushing away the groggy "I just woke up" cobwebs. We'd step out there in our pajamas and let the bracing breezes serve as our wake-up call. This was also a great strategy for avoiding the sweats after hot showers and sessions with the hair dryer.
5. Outdoor Dining and Morning Coffee
Forget breakfast in bed; you can eat your morning room service in the fresh air while gearing up for the day, and you don't even need to change into presentable clothes to do it. The same goes for room service any time of the day, really. Some cruise lines, depending on cabin category, will even serve you dinner in your room, course by course, to be enjoyed on your balcony.
6. Keeping the Peace With Your Cabinmate
You probably adore your cabinmate, but a week of sharing a bathroom and listening to his or her snoring in cramped quarters can strain any relationship. Balcony cabins are great for giving you that much needed bit of personal space when you're both in the room. If he wants to nap but you're wide awake, a balcony offers you a place to hang out without worrying if you're making too much noise or using too bright lights. If she wants to watch TV but you just want to read, a balcony gives you both room to do your thing without kicking someone out.
7. Port Arrival and Sailaway
If you're an early bird, it's fun to watch your ship pull into port in the morning. You can get the lay of the land, watch the docking process unfold and take amazing photos of things (did we mention sunrises and sunsets) others might not be lucky enough to see from such a vantage point. It's also easy to bid adieu to your favorite stops from the comfort of your cabin during sailaway. (Balconies also provide prime real estate for watching latecomers -- known as pier runners -- sprinting back to the ship. On some cruise lines, it's a spectator sport not to be missed.)