Do you have to have a whirlpool bathtub or a walk-in closet? Will you be entertaining and thus in need of a dining table that can seat six or eight? Do you want benefits like priority dinner reservations and being first in line to get on or off the ship? Do you want to be pampered with extra-plush linens and bathrobes, fancy bath products and in-suite coffee and booze? You can find those amenities and more in most of the upper-level suites.
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.
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.
If scenery is important to you, take a good look at your cruise itinerary before selecting your cabin, specifically if you are choosing an outside or balcony. On a roundtrip Caribbean cruise or a transatlantic crossing, for example, the side of the ship you are on does not really matter. If, on the other hand, you are doing a one-way sailing (such as a southbound Alaska cruise or a trip from Barcelona to Rome), you might want to consider choosing a cabin on the side of the ship that faces the land. Sometimes the views can be breathtaking, and you would not get those views from the cabins that face out to the open sea.
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