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Are 47% of Cruisers Making a Mistake? I Upgraded to a Balcony to Find Out

When cruise lines advertise their cruises, you’ll always see beautiful people relaxing on their balconies or enjoying massive private suites.

Some modern cruise ships have over 30 different cabin types though and usually, you’ll find me cruising in the cheapest inside cabin.

Occasionally I’ll upgrade to a window, but inside cabins are my go to and I do love them. 

Why Did I Book a Balcony?

I recently took a Royal Caribbean cruise where I decided to book myself a balcony.

75% of the cabins on the ship that I was sailing on had balconies and as I was cruising to Norway, which is one of the most picturesque places in the world, I decided to take the risk and hoped that it would be worth the extra cost. 

anthem of the seas in norway

A lot of people book balcony cabins because they feel like they need the outside space and the fresh air but I definitely don’t need that.

I’m quite happy in inside cabins so I was curious if this cruise would change my mind.

I Was Planning to Book Another Cruise After This One…

I was planning on booking another cruise after this one but I waited to see how this cabin experience went, before deciding if I was a balcony convert or happy to go back inside. 

I Book a Guaranteed Cabin

I booked a guaranteed balcony cabin and that meant that I didn’t get to pick the balcony cabin location.

Doing this saved me more money but up until around a couple of weeks before the cruise, I had no idea where my cabin would be. 

There are 16 decks on Anthem of the Seas which was the ship I was sailing on and I could have had a cabin away from deck 3 to deck 13.

I was hoping that I would have a cabin on a middle deck because I try to use the stairs wherever I can and walking up 13 flights of stairs from deck 3 to deck 16 didn’t seem appealing. 

I didn’t really mind where my cabin was in terms of front, back or middle.

It was much more important to me that my cabin was somewhere quiet and you can have loud cabins wherever you are, as we did find out on this cruise. 

We Were Assigned Cabin 13556

I went onto Royal Caribbeans website a couple of weeks before the cruise and saw that we had been given cabin 13556.

Our cabin was towards the front of the ship but I’ve stayed on cruise ships before where I’ve been RIGHT at the front so staying near the front wasn’t a problem.

I did notice this symbol on the deck plan though and when I looked at the key I realised that this meant that our cabin was adjoining to another cabin.

interconnecting cabins

Many people, including my friend Gary from Tips for Travellers channel avoid cabins with adjoining doors due to the extra noise that you can sometimes hear between cabins.

I asked Gary for for a comment and he said he detested cabins with adjoining doors. That’s a strong word. 

We Had Adjoining Doors on my First Cruise

Adjoining doors are fantastic when you are using them and you know the person next door, we used them on my first cruise when I was 11 and it was so much easier than having to go out into the corridor and to knock on the door next door.

If you don’t know the person next door, the door will be locked of course. There are actually usually 2 doors, one on both sides so you both can lock your own door if you want.

You can often hear conversations in the next room though, cruise ship cabins aren’t very soundproof at the best of times.  

Deck 13 Was Okay But I’d Probably Have Picked Lower Down

The main central area on the ship with the theatre and Sorrento’s pizza was decks 4 and 5 and the buffet was up on deck 14.

Ideally, I’d probably have preferred to have been a bit lower down than deck 13, just because of the walk from deck 4 to 13 but overall I thought we had got quite lucky with the cabin location.

We Were Opposite The Stairs

Looking at the deck plans I could see that we were opposite the stairs and elevators, so I hoped that we wouldn’t have too much noise during the cruise. Sometimes you’ll hear people walking by or stopping to chat. 

anthem of the seas deck plan

Anthem of the Seas was built in 2015 and the fact that 75% of cabins have balconies is definitely a reflection of this. 

Older ships, even within the same cruise line will have a much smaller percentage of balconies. Looking at Grandeur of The Seas, the oldest Royal Caribbean ship still in operation, only 12% of her cabins have balconies. 

Balconies are very popular with modern cruisers though and on this cruise, I was on a mission to find out why. 

First Impressions Were Very Good

First impressions of our cabin were very good, there were lots of things I liked and as always, a few things that could have been improved. 

One of the first things I noticed was the curtains, this might seem like an odd thing to care about straight away but because we were sailing in Norway in June I knew that the sun would be up for something crazy like 19 hours a day.

The curtains looked like they would provide a good blackout, but only time would tell. 

How Big Was Our Cabin?

The cabin that we were staying in was around 177 square feet. I’ve stayed in inside cabins that were as small as 130 square feet and for some context, the average shipping container is around 150 square feet. 

anthem of the seas cabin sizes

I did wonder if we would really use this extra space though. After all I can only be in one place at a time. 

Generally speaking, if you were to look at different cabin categories across a cruise lines fleet you’ll see that they are usually very similar, if not identical in design. 

The only real difference between this balcony cabin, and the cheaper inside cabins were that it was slightly bigger, meaning that there was space for a sofa, and also of course, the outside balcony space. 

I Liked The Design

I really liked the design of this cabin, but of course, design is very subjective. The TV fit nicely into the wall, the drawers were soft close and it felt well looked after.

Not sure I particularly liked this art, I don’t really understand modern art much, but that’s just my taste. I’d much prefer a picture of some chocolate chip cookies or a cute ginger cat.

It didn’t take long after we arrived in our cabin for our suitcases to arrive. When you take a cruise you leave your suitcases at the terminal when you check in and they arrive in your cabin.

It was pouring with rain when we embarked on the ship and embarkation took us a little over an hour. That meant that our suitcases were pretty damp.

Before when I’ve been on cruises and seen people with plastic luggage tag holders I’ve always thought ‘that’s unnecessary, I’ve never had a problem with my luggage tags before. Well, on this cruise we did and I’ve since bought some of the plastic tag holders.

You can find the tag holders I use here: UK, US.

It’s amazing our luggage tags made it looking like this, but they did, they found our room. 

Before I stay in any cabin I take a look at reviews to see what other people did or didn’t like.

Like all cruise ship cabins, the question about storage came up again and again.

How Much Storage Was There?

We were onboard the cruise for a week and when we had unpacked all of our stuff we still had plenty of empty drawers and shelves.

I personally can’t imagine needing more space than this for two people, I don’t have anywhere near this much storage space at home but if you were sharing with 2 or 3 other people, you might have to be a bit more organised with your things. 

We put our suitcases in the bottom of the wardrobe instead of under the bed like we usually would, just because it was easier to access in the wardrobe and when my clothes were dirty I’d just put them straight into the suitcase.

They did fit under the bed, I tested it just for this video. 

I pack the majority of my clothes in packing cubes, so anything that I don’t wear on the cruise stays in the cubes and the dirty clothes can just hang out in my suitcase.

Sometimes I’ll put them in a bag, but sometimes it’s easier just to throw them in. 

How Many Plug Sockets Were There?

Another complaint I hear a lot about cabins is that there isn’t enough plug sockets.

I’m happy to report that there were 3 plug sockets on the desk, 2 USB’s and another one by the bed.

On this ship there were a combination of European and American sockets, if you’re ever in doubt about which sockets will be on a ship that you’re cruising on, I have a article here with a big searchable table, just click on your cruise line and it’ll tell you which adapters you need: Complete Cruise Ship Plug Socket Guide: Search by Ship

I’m from the UK so almost always need some adapters of some sort. 

The Bathroom Was Spacious and Clean

After unpacking I decided to have a proper look around the cabin’s bathroom.

The bathrooms that you’ll find on cruise ships usually don’t vary too much by cabin type but each cabin does have its own bathroom.

Anthem of the seas royal caribbean bathroom

The bathroom was spacious and clean and felt very new, it definitely felt like a bathroom where the shower had priority as this was quite big.

The shower good, it had the mysterious little step in the corner and there was a nightlight too so when you were to the toilet at night you weren’t in the dark.

There was quite a lot of storage and overall I thought that it had been well designed. 

You might think that it’d be tricky to mess up a bathroom when you don’t have much space to play with, but trust me not all cruise ship bathrooms are as nice as this one.

This one had two bins for some reason actually, bins being trash cans before I get lots of questions about that. 

I’ve Had Smaller, and Bigger Bathrooms in The Past

Bathrooms do get smaller than this one too, the smallest I’ve ever had was onboard Virgin Voyage’s scarlet lady, they also get much bigger and you’ll find some suites that have double sinks and whirlpool baths, you name it you’ll find it somewhere if you’ve got the budget to spend.

You Can Change Your Towels Every Day (and Some Do!)

On a cruise you do have the option to have your towels changed every day when housekeeping do your room, I usually don’t but the option is there.

I said this recently in another video and had quite a few comments telling me that I should wash my towels after every use, sorry but I think life is way too short for that, not to mention the fact that’s a lot of work for the crew and uses tons of water. 

I’m a firm believer in making the lives of the crew as easy as possible when you can, they work incredibly hard and anything we can do to help them, I think is a good thing. 

We Had Kettles in Our Cabin!

Royal Caribbean are a very American cruise line so I was surprised to see a kettle in the cabin, it was because we were cruising from the UK and they know how much we like our kettles.

I was close to the buffet so walking up wouldn’t have been a big problem but it was so much easier to make myself a cup of tea here each morning.

royal caribbean kettle in cabin

I usually drink peppermint tea so I bought some peppermint tea bags down from the buffet. 

Did We Spend Much Time in The Cabin?

One of the main reasons I hear for not booking a balcony cabin is that ‘you don’t spend much time in the cabin anyway’ and when I cruise in inside cabins, that absolutely is true.

On this cruise though, it was very different.

The sail-ins and sail-outs in Norway are often hours long and being able to wake up in the morning and walk a meter or two to the balcony was amazing. 

norwegian fjord cruise view from balcony emma cruises in geiranger
Me onboard Anthem of The Seas in Geiranger

Our balcony was pretty big compared to the balconies that you’ll find on some other ships. Cruise lines like P&O and Princess are known for having shallow balconies but ours on Anthem of the Seas felt pretty deep.

We had two chairs and a table on the balcony and because we had paid for it, I wanted to use the balcony as much as possible.

It definitely wasn’t warm during our cruise but that didn’t stop us from sitting outside, I’d wrap up in all of my clothes and then pile anything else I had on top of me. Even towels I’d use as blankets.

Did The Light Bother us?

I’m happy to say that the curtains were fantastic and we were never woken up by the light.

It was a little bit odd to be in the cabin, maybe watching TV or something and you think ‘hmm, I wonder if it’s still light outside, it’s 11 pm surely not’ you open the curtain, and its just like daytime. 

We Used Our TV For Lots of Things

Our cabin TV had lots of functions and yes it did have an adult movie section, I recently showed in a video that my MSC cruise cabin had some adult movies and everybody was surprised.

I don’t think it’s that uncommon honestly. 

royal caribbean room service menu

I used the TV mostly to watch catch-up shows of the entertainment that was going on around the ship. If we missed a gameshow, for example, we could always catch up on it in the cabin.

Most cruise lines don’t do that, they don’t have the time to record and edit and broadcast videos each day, but Royal Caribbean does and I enjoyed it.

Were Our Neighbours Loud?

We did have some extra entertainment which came in the way of our neighbours through the adjoining door.

They had a couple of little kids and I think a baby, we could hear them sometimes if they were trying to get the kids out of the cabin in the morning or if the baby was crying but it never was too loud or annoying if anything I quite liked listening into their conversations.

I think because our bed was so far from the adjoining door and the main door that helped a lot, but we never heard anybody outside either. 

Room Service Continental Breakfast Was Free!

We also used the TV a lot to order room service.

On some cruises, room service is completely free and on others, there is nothing that is free. On some cruise lines, you have to phone down to place your order and on some, you can just use the cabin TV.

On Royal you can just use the cabin TV which I really prefer and the continental breakfast is free. 

royal caribbean breakfast room service fruit doughnuts
My room service breakfast on Anthem of the Seas

Did This Cruise Change my Mind?

Enjoying breakfast on the balcony like this is incredible and I totally understand why some people would only choose to cruise in balconies.

For me, though I am heading back inside, I booked a very cheap little MSC  cruise when I got back from this one (£58 per person per night) and an inside cabin seemed like the right thing to do.

The MSC cruise I’ve booked is cheaper than staying in a premier inn, it’s crazy. 

This Royal Caribbean cruise confirmed to me that although I’m definitely team inside, there absolutely are places and times where I think a balcony upgrade is worth it. Norway is incredible and I’d recommend anybody cruising there to book a balcony if you can. 

If it was a lot more expensive though, I would have missed the views, let’s be honest. 

How Much Did This Cruise Cost me?

My balcony cabin only cost £809 per person for the week and the inside cabin wasn’t much cheaper at around £600.

I like to keep to a £100 per night budget, including gratuities so splashing out to £115 per person per night didn’t seem crazy.

This was one of those cruises booked pre-pandemic. 

On lots of cruises, you’ll find that the balcony cabin is double the price of the inside, and for me in that situation it’s always going to be the inside cabin. 

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