One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make when booking a cruise is your cabin (or “stateroom”) type. People often ask “Oceanview vs Balcony cabin – which is best?” but there is no simple answer to this. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Let me break down the benefits of each type to help you make an informed decision.
Oceanview (aka “Outside”) Cabins
These are a popular choice as they’re usually a good compromise between Interior and Balcony rooms. You have the benefit of natural light which is vital for some people, especially if you’re claustrophobic, or someone who likes to wake up with sun rather than an alarm clock. However, you do need to bear in mind that the windows (or portholes) can be quite small, and, obviously they don’t open (I’ve been asked this many times)! They can be located right behind the bed too, so not always easy to access if you were wanting to put your face up to it!
MSC Jade Oceanview cabin. Photo courtesy of www.msccruises.com
Having a window is also helpful to know what’s happening outside – yes, an obvious statement I know. What I mean by this though, is that you can be watching a movie in your cabin and keep an eye out on when you’re about to depart/arrive into port so you can head up to join the top deck celebrations. In addition, you can also see whether you need to grab a rain coat before you head out…!
From a size perspective, you can usually choose from various types of Oceanview cabins which increase in size and amenities. Most cruise lines will have family oceanview options too which will have the extra beds, either as Pullmans (drop down bunks from the ceiling) or sofa beds.
Royal Caribbean have a Panoramic oceanview stateroom in their Voyager class which are full floor to ceiling windows – they are fabulous! The family style even has a separate section for kids bunk beds and huge wardrobes. Definitely worth checking out, and booking quickly as they sell out fast and there’s only a handful of them.
Liberty of the Seas Panoramic Oceanview. Photo courtesy of royalcaribbean.com.au
The last couple of Oceanview cabins I’ve stayed in had a ‘windowsill’ which was great for extra storage. Not all ships have this, but it’s very handy when they do!
If you have young children, many parents prefer to have an oceanview instead of a balcony for that extra level of safety. Whilst all balcony doors have child-proof locks on them (I think some are even adult-proof!), there can be that fear of the door being accidentally left open…
There’s no doubt that a balcony would be most people’s preferred option if price wasn’t a factor, but sadly, it is usually! When considering Oceanview vs Balcony cabins, this is what you need to know about balcony rooms…
You’re not just getting a little window here, with a balcony you have a full floor to ceiling window offering fabulous views! Even if you never used the balcony, this alone is a huge advantage. If you need complete darkness to sleep, you will need to make sure you pull the curtains properly though.
Princess Cruises Royal Class Balcony Cabin. Photo courtesy of www.princess.com
Being able to get fresh air at any time is a massive bonus. If you are prone to sea sickness, this will really help too, being able to sit outside, take deep breaths and watch the horizon. Alternatively, if your partner loves the air con on max and you don’t, it’s nice to step outside and warm up in the sun…just saying!
Depending on the deck you choose to be on, you can feel so much closer to the ocean from your balcony. This is great if you enjoy looking for fish, dolphins or other marine life. Personally, I like to be on a lower deck for this reason, you can always go to the public deck up top whenever you want a higher view.
Not marine-life related, but I also really enjoy watching the pilot and tender boat operations from a balcony too!
Personally, I’m not one for lazing around in my bikini in public, I just don’t like it. So having my own balcony to catch a few rays in private is perfect!
If you’re celebrating something special on your cruise, having dinner on your balcony is really lovely. Plus, you can’t beat brekkie on your balcony to start the day, and a glass of wine later on!
With many cruise lines, when comparing oceanview vs balcony cabins there can be little to no difference in floor space. The cabins are essentially exactly the same, but you’re getting that extra bit of space with the balcony, basically an ‘extra room’. However, don’t go thinking its extra storage, its doubtful you will be allowed to store anything outside.
If you’re interested in finding perfect storage solutions on your cruise, check out my previous post Best Cruise Packing Tips: Expert Advice You Need to Read.
Insider Tip: Travelling with friends in the cabin next door? Ask your room steward if your balcony partition can be removed. Not all of them can, but it’s always worth asking!
If your main reason for considering a balcony cabin is to be able to smoke outside – do your research first. Many cruise lines won’t permit this, especially after a fire was caused by a guest throwing their cigarette butt ‘to the sea’ but it actually flew into the open balcony door of the cabin directly below, causing a huge amount of damage. Unsurprisingly, smoking on balconies was widely banned from then onward.
Another option you could consider is a cabin with an interior view. These are available on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager class and above, with views of the Promenade or Central Park. Because you’re not actually looking out at the ocean, they are cheaper than your traditional oceanview cabins, but you still get a view and have some light in your room. On the Oasis class they have interior balconies too, again, you’re not seeing the ocean, but you can get fresh air and watch the goings-on in Central Park below.
Oasis class interior balcony cabin. Photo courtesy of www.royalcaribbean.com
You could also choose a Virtual Balcony (Royal Caribbean) which is an interior room with a large screen projecting a real-time view of the outside. Decide for yourself if this is cool or a gimmick…!
Finally, another option you could consider is to choose an obstructed balcony. This gives you most of the benefits of the balcony, but you’re probably going to have a tender blocking your view – they will usually give you a percentage of the obstruction.
If you want more ways to save money on your cruise, check out my post Are Cruises Expensive? Not If You Avoid These Costs!
As you can probably tell, my preference will always be a balcony cabin, however, I do understand that budget often prohibits this. Decide how much time you think you will actually spend in your room too, if you’re planning to be out and about most of the day, and partying all night, then it’s not worth the extra money.
Itinerary should also be a consideration. If you’re cruising through Alaska, a balcony would be fabulous to watch the 24/7 scenery, if you’re on a 3-day cruise to nowhere, you probably don’t care so much!
What is your preferred cabin type, and for what reason? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Thanks for reading – see you next time!
Wendy A x
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