Balcony cabins: These cabins are better, and more expensive, than oceanview cabins because they typically have full glass sliding doors that lead to a balcony. The balcony allows fresh air and light into the cabin and also may have additional chairs or loungers. Balconies tend to be separated by dividers which give some sense of privacy, but be aware that most balconies are not fully private and can be viewed from above or by the cabin next to you. Balconies on new Norwegian Cruise Line ships and Princess Cruise Line ships tend to be smaller and more narrow than balconies on other ships. We will list balcony size in the cabin description. Carnival offers what is called a "Cove Balcony" on some of their ships. These balconies are very popular because they sit lower on the ship (closer to the water line). Expect to pay $200 to $400 a night for an balcony cabin.
On many ships, basic inside and outside cabins are usually the same size, the difference being that one has a porthole or picture window to let in natural light. Balcony cabins can also be the same size as standard insides and outsides, with the addition of the outdoor space on the verandah; sometimes the interior space is larger. A basic cabin, regardless of category, is referred to as a "standard" unless there is something about it that makes it different (such as physical layout, being handicapped accessible or a designated family cabin). With minisuites on up, you get bigger and bigger indoor and outdoor spaces.
Do you need a balcony? Cruise travelers who spend all their time in the public areas -- sun decks, lounges, restaurants -- or on shore may be perfectly happy with standard-size cabins and no private outdoor space. Those who love to avoid the crowds and lounge quietly on their own verandahs or have private room-service meals outdoors will surely want balconies. Do not forget to take your itinerary into account; on a chilly-weather cruise, you might not be spending too much time outside, so depending on how much space and light you need, a balcony might not be worth the splurge.
For some reason, most cruise lines assign their nicest and most expensive cabins to the highest decks, usually just below the pool deck (most likely because if you have a window or balcony, you have a more sweeping vista). Still, it is the pool deck that often causes the most noise problems, so if you do not want to hear scraping chairs at the crack of dawn or yee-hawing pool parties until the wee hours, go down a level. In fact, when it comes to noise, the best bet is to select a cabin that is both above and below other cabins.