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The best cruise ship balcony cabins for your vacation at sea

Feb. 01, 2022
9 min read
Calm scene of a deck chair at dusk viewing a beautiful sunset from a cruise ship
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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 may come with a veranda so small your knees rub against the railing as you sit in one of two deck chairs flanking a small cocktail table. The most expensive suites, on the other hand, may 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. Just keep in mind when you step outside that your balcony may not be entirely private – your neighbors may 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

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 very 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 may not be appropriate for those who suffer from seasickness.

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

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Infinite Veranda cabins on Celebrity Cruises

An Infinite Veranda cabin on Celebrity Edge. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises).

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 stateroom 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 cocktail 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.

Super Studio balcony cabins on Royal Caribbean

A studio ocean view stateroom with a balcony on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean.)

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 percent of 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

(Photo by Jeff R Clow/Getty Images)

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 may 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.

AquaTheater Suites on Royal Caribbean

AquaTheater Suite balcony on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

On Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, which are the world’s largest 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 performers jumping off 30-foot platforms into the deepest pools at sea, dancers, acrobats and dancing fountains. 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

The Sky Suite has one of the biggest balconies in the cruise industry. (Image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Princess Cruises’ latest ships – Sky Princess, Enchanted Princess and the soon-to-debut 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

A Sea Terrace on a Virgin Voyages cruise ship. (Photo courtesy of Virgin Voyages)

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 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

An Excel Presidential Suite on Carnival Mardi Gras. (Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.)

On Carnival’s Mardi Gras and the upcoming Carnival Celebration, 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:

Featured image by Getty Images
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.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees