Best cruise ship balcony cabins - The Points Guy (2024)

Balcony cabins are popular accommodations on cruise ships, affording the luxury of an outdoor space where you can take in the sea breezes, read a book, have breakfast or a drink and stare at the waves without distraction.

These spaces vary widely in size, so it pays to study your ship's deck plan before booking. Affordable balcony cabins might come with a veranda so small your knees rub against the railing as you sit in one of two deck chairs flanking a small co*cktail table. The most expensive suites, on the other hand, can have balconies as large as half a tennis court, equipped with cushy loungers, a big table for outdoor dining and even a private hot tub or plunge pool.

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With all balcony cabins, you can just throw on your bathrobe to catch views of wildlife or of your ship pulling into port. Keep in mind when you step outside that your balcony might not be entirely private — your neighbors might be able to see you (as will the ship's security team via hidden cameras).

Here are our picks for the best balcony cabins at sea.

Cove balcony cabins on Carnival Cruise Line

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On select Carnival Cruise Line ships, such as Carnival Vista and Carnival Magic, you'll find special Deck 2 Cove balcony cabins that are built into the steel hull of the ship, close to the waterline and near the ship's lifeboats.

These accommodations afford a unique view of the sea since you aren't on a typical balcony that hangs off the ship, but in a cutout in the ship's superstructure. You'll have more privacy than with typical balcony cabins, since no one can see you from above or the side — but that's not the main draw.

The thrill here is sitting in a deck chair and watching the waves and spray splashing up from only 20 to 25 feet below. Call it a free show. Just be aware that you can't use your balcony in rough seas when a watertight door seals off the space from the roiling water. Also, given the close-up view of rolling waves, these cabins are not appropriate for those who suffer from seasickness.

Cove cabins are limited in number and popular, so you'll need to snag one well in advance of your sailing.

Related: 6 reasons you'll want to book a balcony cabin on your next cruise

Infinite Veranda cabins on Celebrity Cruises

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On its Edge-class ships, Celebrity Cruises sought to redefine the concept of a "balcony." Instead of creating private outdoor spaces that hang off the ship, the cruise line cleverly designed a way to bring the outside space in.

At the push of a button, the top half of a floor-to-ceiling wall of glass in your cabin slides down like a car window to let in the fresh ocean air. If you want, you can close off the section of your room closest to the window by sliding shut a pair of folding doors. Once that is done, you have a cozy spot with two chairs and a co*cktail table where you can admire the sea or enjoy your morning coffee — even if your cabinmate is still sleeping.

If the weather turns rainy or chilly, roll that window back up, and you can still enjoy the sitting area as an indoor portion of your cabin.

With no space wasted for a traditional balcony, the other benefit of this setup is expanded indoor space. These cabins are 23 percent larger than on the line's Solstice-class ships, including bigger bathrooms.

Sister cruise line Royal Caribbean has introduced these cabins on its newest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas, and other ocean lines such as Atlas Ocean Voyages have begun to copy the idea, too. The concept first began popping up about a decade ago on river cruise ships, where it was pioneered by Avalon Waterways.

Super Studio balcony cabins on Royal Caribbean

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Single cruisers have a tough choice. They can choose an inside or windowed cabin designed and priced for solo guests — but to enjoy balcony accommodations, they typically must pay a supplement (as much as 100% of the cruise fare) to reserve a veranda cabin designed for two people to share.

Related: These 8 cabins are great for travelers cruising alone

Royal Caribbean sought to level the playing field on its Quantum Class ships by creating Super Studio balcony cabins. On Quantum, Anthem, Ovation, Spectrum and Odyssey of the Seas, these solo cabins are designed and priced for one, with up to 199 square feet of interior space and a 55-foot balcony that's large enough for two chairs and a small table.

There are only a dozen of these cabins per ship, so you'll want to book as early as possible to snag one.

Rear-facing cabins on any cruise line

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On any ship, rear-facing balcony cabins are coveted spaces. They deliver mesmerizing views as your ship pulls out of ports of call, and their balconies tend to be larger than those on the sides of the ship. Many people book them for a feeling of privacy and to enjoy peaceful moments gazing out at the ship's wake. Corner cabins are a particular bonus, delivering long, wraparound outdoor spaces.

On the newest ships of lines such as MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, you'll find suites occupying the corners, but other ships have more affordable balcony cabins in this location. Be aware when booking rear-facing balconies that your space might not have much shade and that you will feel more movement than you would in a cabin in the middle of the ship. These beloved cabins are not necessarily the best for those who get seasick.

Related: What not to do on a cruise balcony

AquaTheater Suites on Royal Caribbean

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On Royal Caribbean's enormous Oasis Class ships, these one- and two-bedroom suites overlook the back of the ship with the bonus of views of the AquaTheater. You can sit in your lounge chair and privately watch thrilling high-diving shows, complete with dancers, acrobats, dancing fountains and performers jumping off 30-foot platforms into the deepest pools at sea. There are no tickets needed and no jockeying for seats with your shipmates.

The largest suites sleep up to eight and wrap around the side of the ship with 772 square feet of outdoor space. You can hold a party at your outdoor bar or sit down to an alfresco, room-service dinner.

Sky Suites on Princess Cruises

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Princess Cruises' latest ships — Sky Princess, Enchanted Princess and Discovery Princess — break the record for largest cruise ship balconies of any cabin on any cruise ship, according to the line.

The fancy Sky Suites, centrally located on a top deck, have huge, wraparound terraces that overlook the sea and the ship's sports deck. The 1,012-square-foot balcony features lounging areas, a dry bar, an alfresco dining setup and even a TV alcove.

The suites come with many perks, the coolest of which is a private viewing of what's playing on your ship's giant Movies Under the Stars screen. You even get to request a movie showing of your choice.

Sea Terraces on Virgin Voyages

Best cruise ship balcony cabins - The Points Guy (8)

Virgin Voyages likes to do things more playfully than other lines, and its balcony cabins are in keeping with that philosophy. Book a Sea Terrace on the line's Scarlet Lady, Resilient Lady or Valiant Lady and you'll get a balcony equipped with chairs and a small table plus a hammock swing attached to the ceiling. Embrace your inner kid and swing to your heart's content while you enjoy fresh air and sea views.

Other unique quirks of Virgin Voyages' Sea Terrace cabins are mood lighting and full-size beds that turn into sofas by day.

Related: First impressions of Scarlet Lady, the first-ever Virgin Voyages vessel

Excel Presidential Suites on Carnival Cruise Line

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On Carnival's Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration and Carnival Jubilee, these big suites for big spenders afford the same forward-facing views as the captain, with plenty of room to entertain your nearest and dearest both indoors and outside.

The largest balconies in the Carnival fleet at 645 square feet, these come with double sunbeds and loungers, a dining table for meals outdoors and a private soaking pool plus an outdoor shower.

Book one of these suites and you also have unlimited access to Loft 19, a lounging area equipped with cushy loungers and cabanas that is reserved for suite guests.

Slightly more affordable are the ships' 12 Carnival Excel Corner Suites, with the "wow" of private, open-air hot tubs on wraparound balconies.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • Top ways cruisers waste money
  • The ultimate guide to choosing a cruise ship cabin

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Best cruise ship balcony cabins - The Points Guy (2024)
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