You know I am an admitted balcony addict. No intervention needed. I mean, really, just outside the cabin door is a members-only retreat. Your balcony, that is, is a private 35- to 1,000-square-foot space for watching seafoam and listening to your neighbors — but also cracking open a lobster tail or hosting a cocktail party for two or 20.
Because of public interest, new ships are steadily expanding the number of balcony cabins available, making the once expensive treat available to the majority.
Of course, you can book an expensive suite, which can change the standard two-seats and-a-table arrangement into a haven with thickly cushioned chaise loungers, a hot tub, and a wet bar. In any case, a 10-by-5-foot area of treated wood is a bounty big enough for most pursuits.
Here are a few things you could (and ought to) do on your balcony.
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Dine on Lobster, Filet and Champagne
For a meal with a view, Princess Cruises’ has “A definitive Balcony Dinner.” The $100-per-couple bundle includes a pre-meal drink; flowers; a four-course dinner with lobster tail, filet, or both; a half-bottle of Champagne, and a keepsake 8×10 photograph. There’s also a less expensive choice for breakfast ($45 per couple), which incorporates baked goods and options like smoked salmon and a half-bottle of Champagne. Cruising a luxury line like Crystal Cruises? Course-by-course balcony dinners are included in the fare – yet you’ll need to pay extra for the commemorative photograph.
Watch a Show
The AquaTheater Suites on Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, and Symphony of the Seas offer the most exciting perspectives at sea: an outside, pool-based show that highlights high-jumping, synchronized swimming, bouncing, and shape-shifting feats of strength make you ooh and ahh. On each ship, these great cabins have wraparound balconies that overlook the amphitheater. Unfortunately, these suites don’t come cheap – you’ll probably pay a minimum of $450 per person each night. However, a portion of the inward-facing Boardwalk Balcony cabins close to the ship’s back is an excellent spot for watching AquaTheater exhibitions if you don’t want to pay a lot for the view.
While it only takes two to party, passengers in suites with large verandas can have bigger parties with mixed drinks and canapes. For instance, Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer’s Regent Suite has a 1,147-square-foot balcony – more than enough room to gather with fellow cruisers. Hardly any lines have formal “party bundles,” however, you can request appetizers and drinks on-demand. Just ask at Guest Services. And, even if you’re not on a luxury line, balcony life can be sweet. For instance, cruisers in Penthouse Suites on Celebrity’s Millennium-class ships have butlers to plan and arrange the party for you. One word of advice: Make sure you know the rules; Norwegian Cruise Line, for instance, discourages passengers from hosting gatherings on balconies.
Enjoy Coffee or a Cocktail
Coffee first thing in the morning, a mixed drink at dusk. Blended in with pungent ocean air, the mix is habit-forming. This is a ritual I wholeheartedly stand by.
Become Mesmerized by the Wake
There’s an army of aft stalwarts who prefer the back of the ship. Aft balcony cabins offer a view of the ship’s wake, which is unbelievable.
Enjoy Sailaway in Your Own Private Area
You can hang out with 1,000+ other cruisers looking for top-deck space during sail-away – or you can enjoy railway from the privacy of your own balcony. However, it does pay to know port from starboard, as you’ll know which side of the ship offers the best views. You can find this information in my Cruise Lingo post.
Gaze at the Heavens
For uninhibited stargazing, consider a mini-suite on Princess’ Grand-and Crown-class ships. One deck of these ships extends away from the superstructure, allowing the balconies to be uncovered from overhead. Indeed, your neighbors can peer down at you. However, come evening, you can peer up without any obstacles at the billions of beautiful stars. I have quit my job after spending time looking up at the stars and communing with nature.
Read or Fall Asleep to the Sound of Crashing Waves
Pull up a seat, prop your feet on the railing (or another chair) and curl up with a book. After a while, you might notice your eyelids getting heavy, your vision getting blurry, or your head nodding. Try not to battle it. Balcony fans like myself swear by the rejuvenating relaxation of napping to the murmur of sea breezes and the sip gently cutting through the ocean. Or then again, head inside; however, carry the ocean sounds with you by leaving the door slightly open. Most lines frown on the open-door practice, as it can affect the ship’s climate control; however scarcely any, explicitly say “it’s against the rules.”
These are all great things you can do while enjoying your balcony. But there are a couple of things you might want to avoid doing on your balcony.
- Smoking – this can get you fined and/or kicked off the ship. Soooo, not worth it. Just go to the designated smoking area.
- Get Intimate – It’s not against the rules per se, but it can be dangerous and also just embarrasing. Your neighbors can hear you and depending on your location, some balcony rooms can see you.