New cruise ships are built with more balcony cabins than they are with any other accommodation type, but not all veranda cabins are created equal. Some have more interior space, while others have larger balconies or extra amenities. If you're looking for the best balcony cabin you can book -- without having to upgrade to a mini-suite or suite -- here are our five favourites across mainstream lines.
- Holland America Veranda Staterooms
- Norwegian Cruise Line Large Balcony Staterooms
- Celebrity Cruises AquaClass Staterooms
- Royal Caribbean's Ocean View With Large Balcony
- Disney Cruise Line Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom With Verandah
- Saga's Spirit of Discovery: Deluxe Single with Balcony
- P&O Cruises' Britannia: Superior Deluxe Balcony
- Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2: Deluxe Balcony Cabin
- Marella Explorer and Marella Explorer 2: Balcony Cabin (Large Balcony)
- Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Balmoral: Superior Balcony Room
1. Holland America Veranda Staterooms
Holland America has well-designed balcony cabins, generally starting at 212 square feet including the veranda (most are 54 square feet). Depending on the ship and specific cabin, the rooms feature the line's signature Mariner's Dream Bed, sitting areas, plentiful storage space and bathtubs (a rarity in many standard cruise accommodations). Amenities include dressing gowns, fresh fruit and shoeshine service. If you're looking for a bit more space, either inside or out, peruse the deck plans for or ask your travel agent about balcony rooms aft and staterooms on the hump of the ship (where the structure juts out) with slightly larger verandas.
2. Norwegian Cruise Line Large Balcony Staterooms
Norwegian Cruise Line gets our nod for its modern and fun decor, often with pops of colour in jewel tones to brighten things up. If you're looking for more space, choose a Large Balcony Stateroom; sizes vary by ship but interior space is either the same or larger than regular veranda cabins, with double-sized or larger balconies. Another perk: Showers feature doors rather than clingy curtains.
3. Celebrity Cruises AquaClass Staterooms
Whether you're a true spa lover or just like a more serene cruise environment, Celebrity's AquaClass Staterooms are a great choice. The cabins are ample-sized at 194 square feet inside with a 54-square-foot private veranda; that's more space inside and out than standard veranda cabins. But the amenities really sell the room. The cabin itself features a Hansgrohe shower panel, pillow menu, flavoured tea service, special bedding and an expanded room service menu. Leave the room to take advantage of a spa concierge, complimentary access to the Persian Garden thermal suite and Blu -- a speciality dining venue exclusive to AquaClass passengers.
4. Royal Caribbean's Ocean View With Large Balcony
Otherwise known as "hump" balconies, these appear on most classes of Royal Caribbean ships. One example is the Oasis Class, which houses the line's latest -- and largest -- ship, Symphony of the Seas. Its standard hump balcony cabins exist midship, both starboard and aft, on decks six through 14. They grow gradually larger from stateroom to stateroom in areas where the ship's superstructure "waves" out farther than the rest of the ship. This can cause balconies with slightly weird shapes, where one side is deeper than the other, but they offer a great way to snag some extra outdoor space without splurging on a suite.
5. Disney Cruise Line Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom With Verandah
If you're travelling with a crowd, Disney Cruise Line's Deluxe Family Oceanview Staterooms With Verandah (category 4) are the largest standard accommodations onboard. They measure roughly 300 square feet, including the veranda and sleep between three and five travellers, depending on ship and specific cabin number. They feature Disney's acclaimed family-friendly amenities: split bath (shower in one room, toilet in another), blackout curtain separating the main bed from the sitting area and plentiful storage. Extra berths are a combination of single sleeper sofa, pulldown upper berth and wall pulldown bed. On Disney Dream and Fantasy, category 4E cabins sleep fewer passengers and lack the split bath but have larger balconies.
6. Saga's Spirit of Discovery: Deluxe Single with Balcony
All the cabins on Saga's first new build, Spirit of Discovery, have balconies. What's especially exciting, though, is the fact that there are so many singles; 109 out of 540, in fact. There are no compromises on size or quality here; the Deluxe Single with Balcony is an enormous 352 square feet (including the balcony) and comes with a king-sized bed, walk-in wardrobe and a bathroom with shower. Double doors lead out to the balcony and there's another floor-to-ceiling window, so the cabin should be flooded with light. Like all Spirit of Discovery's cabins, amenities include free WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, fresh fruit, bathrobe and slippers. These Deluxe Singles are dotted around the ship; there are even a couple up on the Sun Deck, behind the gym, which should have the best views.
7. P&O Cruises' Britannia: Superior Deluxe Balcony
These 281-square foot cabins are practically mini-suites; they're the top of the range on Britannia before you get into actual suite territory. Because of their larger size, these are the ideal cabins for families, all the more so as a curtain separates the main bedroom from the living area, which contains a sofabed and has its own TV.
The balcony, at 36 square feet, is standard size for the ship; you'd struggle to fit four out here, where furniture includes two chairs and a small table. It's the generous inside space you're paying for. Bathrooms offer a bonus, too; this is the accommodation to choose if you want a bath, rather than just a shower. Other amenities include bathroom goodies from P&O Cruises' link up with The White Company and tea and coffee making facilities with biscuits. You get champagne and chocolates as a welcome gift, as well as a fruit basket and on the formal nights, canapés. Bathrobes, slippers and binoculars are also thrown in.
Superior Deluxe Balcony cabins are on decks A, B and C but go for accommodation on B or C decks; A is right underneath the Lido so you may be disturbed by sunloungers scraping, and the balcony may not get as much sunlight because of the slight overhang.
8. Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2: Deluxe Balcony Cabin
Both of Marella's Discovery ships have a good proportion of balcony cabins and both have several of this category across decks 6 and 7, but the best ones, in our opinion, are a row of nine across the stern on Deck 7, facing aft. There's something dreamy about sitting on your balcony, watching the foamy wake, and the lights of the shore fade as you head off to your next port. These cabins have twin beds that convert to a queen-size double bed, a sitting area, an ensuite with toilet and a shower, tea and coffee-making facilities, a decent sized fridge, sofabed sleeping two and a balcony. They're not massive -- between 161 and 172 square feet -- so bigger families might want to consider 7640 and 7642, which interconnect.
9. Marella Explorer and Marella Explorer 2: Balcony Cabin (Large Balcony)
What's special about this cabin grade and upwards is that you get a hammock strung across your balcony -- an inheritance from the days when Explorer sailed for TUI as Mein Schiff, where hammocks are standard. While the 178 cabins themselves, situated on decks 9, 10 and 12, are a fairly regular 173 square feet, the balconies are unusually deep. As well as the hammock, you get a lounger, a small table and two chairs. These cabins sleep either two or three, the third person accommodated on the sofabed. On Explorer they’re located on Decks 9, 10 and 12 but be careful if you opt for Deck 10 as it’s under the pool deck and there may be noise from above. On Explorer 2 they're located on Decks 8, 9, 10 and 12.
10. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Balmoral: Superior Balcony Room
At 190 square feet, these are the largest cabins with balconies on Balmoral before you move up into suite grades. You get 10 square feet more than in the next level down, which isn't much but all counts on a long voyage. All Superior Balcony cabins are aft on Deck 9, in a quiet location, all the more so if you book one further from the lifts. Balmoral has lovely tiered decks aft, giving it a classic profile, and this cluster of cabins leads directly out to the small deck area on Deck 9. They’re also directly under the Spey and Avon Restaurants, which is handy for dining. Décor is neutral and inoffensive and amenities include minibar, TV, tea and coffee making facilities and TV. On the balcony itself, you'll find a glass and metal table and two loungers.