TRAVEL THERE: DO YOU NEED A BALCONY?
While I am a strong proponent of getting an outside cabin, I can’t say a balcony is absolutely necessary. It did save my bacon on our Norwegian cruise, however. Let me explain.
My Best Balcony So Far
While I had a great time with my hubby and my bestie on the Norwegian cruise, I hated the ship. The pool area was so crowded, it was like Central Expressway at rush hour.
It was a huge ship, but wherever I went on board I felt cramped, like they’d tried to squeeze two ships worth of activity into one boat. Spaces I traditionally enjoy, like a library, were laughable – cramped corners included so they could put them on the list of amenities, but too small to enjoy. To make things worse, I wasn’t feeling all that well, so I needed a quiet place to hang out.
Voila! We had three days at sea on that trip and I spent most of that time on my balcony, quietly reading books on my Kindle. The space was an escape from the hectic nature of Freestyle Cruising, which had everything in the world but what I wanted. As we entered the ports, Bill and I would enjoy the thrill from our balcony, often sharing the excitement with my bestie, who was two balconies down. Did I love my balcony? Yes. Did it serve my purpose on that cruise? Yes. Do I have to have one every time? Nope!
Nice, but Not Necessary
For example, we had a balcony on our Viking River cruise, but we didn’t utilize it all that much. For one thing, it was April and still a little chilly along the Danube. Also the longship had great places for relaxation in its public spaces. I liked the peaceful serenity I could find at many spots on the ship, but I also liked that I got to connect a little with humanity, without having their deck chair bump against mine.
Perhaps the main reason the balcony was not so critical to my enjoyment was how busy we were. Every morning was a shore excursion. After lunch we’d head out and do a little exploring on our own. From breakfast to bedtime we had few moments which required us to entertain ourselves, so the balcony was under-utilized. Did I use it? Yes. I’d go out there to catch up in my journal while Bill took his afternoon nap. I’d step out in the morning for some pre-breakfast fresh air – but I would have been fine with just a window.
I thought the balcony would come in handy as we sailed through the Wachau Valley, but an announcement informed me most of the important sights would be on the other side of the ship – something I should have more carefully studied as I planned the cruise. I also discovered my side of the ship was on the river side when we docked. We liked that, but if I had hoped to sit on my balcony and observe a city at close hand, I would have been disappointed.
So the bottom line is this, take some time to study the ship and figure out if your balcony is going to give you the experience you are hoping for. You want to watch the Wachau Valley from your balcony, then learn which direction your ship will be headed and be sure you are on the side that will be on the north as you cruise through. Want to watch the hustle and bustle in port, then be sure you are on the side of the ship which has the gangplank. The more you know, the better you’ll utilize your balcony.
That’s our balcony experience and I hope it will help you decide whether or not a balcony will be worth the investment when you take a cruise. Come back next week and we’ll explore cruising with a suite.