New cruise ships are built with more balcony cabins than they are with any other accommodation type, but not all veranda cabins are created equal. Some have more interior space, while others have larger balconies or extra amenities. If you're looking for the best balcony cabin you can book -- without having to upgrade to a mini-suite or suite -- here are our five favorites across mainstream lines.
Holland America has well-designed balcony cabins, generally starting at 212 square feet including the veranda (most are 54 square feet). Depending on the ship and specific cabin, the rooms feature the line's signature Mariner's Dream Bed, sitting areas, plentiful storage space and bathtubs (a rarity in many standard cruise accommodations). Amenities include bathrobes, fresh fruit and shoeshine service. If you're looking for a bit more space, either inside or out, peruse the deck plans for or ask your travel agent about balcony rooms aft and staterooms on the hump of the ship (where the structure juts out) with slightly larger verandas.
Norwegian Cruise Line gets our nod for its modern and fun decor, often with pops of color in jewel tones to brighten things up. If you're looking for more space, choose a Large Balcony Stateroom; sizes vary by ship but interior space is either the same or larger than regular veranda cabins, with double-sized or larger balconies. Another perk: Showers feature doors rather than clingy curtains.
The Infinite Veranda rooms found on Celebrity Edge are not your average balcony cabins. With the push of a button, the floor-to-ceiling window opens up to a balcony, allowing in the ocean breeze and soothing sound of waves. Two chairs and a cocktail table sit in a sunny nook by the glass wall, beckoning cruisers to kick back with their morning coffee or soak up the sunset with a glass of bubbly. These types of verandas also make the room feel more spacious -- because they are. Celebrity touts the cabins are 23 percent larger than the balcony cabins on its Solstice-class ships. For even more space, larger groups can combine two Infinite Veranda cabins to become one space with a sweeping balcony view.
Passengers who just live for balcony time and won't settle for a standard-size veranda will love Carnival's Premium Vista Staterooms, located at the aft corners of ships and offering wraparound (read: large) balconies. You'll get views behind and to the side of the ship, ideal for scenic cruising, and a mix of loungers and regular balcony chairs. Inside, the rooms have an odd, triangular layout to account for their corner location, but fans rave about the abundance of light from multiple windows.
If you're traveling with a crowd, Disney Cruise Line's Deluxe Family Oceanview Staterooms With Verandah (category 4) are the largest standard accommodations onboard. They measure roughly 300 square feet, including the veranda and sleep between three and five travelers, depending on ship and specific cabin number. They feature Disney's acclaimed family-friendly amenities: split bath (shower in one room, toilet in another), blackout curtain separating the main bed from the sitting area and plentiful storage. Extra berths are a combination of single sleeper sofa, pull-down upper berth and wall pull-down bed. On Disney Dream and Fantasy, category 4E cabins sleep fewer passengers and lack the split bath but have larger balconies.