I’ve just been on a cruise – staying in a balcony cabin that has a quirky downside that I’ve never encountered on a ship before.
The cruise lines don’t advertise cabins like these, and most people have no idea that they exist.
I found this cabin almost by accident and booked it because of the discounted price.
Where Was I Cruising?
This cruise has took us from Singapore to Tokyo and for me, it has been a real bucket list adventure.
Like most bucket list things though, it wasn’t cheap and when booking I knew that the flights from the UK would likely cost more than the cruise itself.
With that in mind, I really didn’t want to spend more than I had to on the cabin – but I also didn’t want to miss out on anything as I’d come halfway around the world for this trip.
I didn’t want to book an inside cabin and miss out on seeing something incredible, but also didn’t want to pay full price for a balcony which was almost double the inside cabin price.
This trip to Asia was already the most expensive holiday I’d ever planned.
I decided to compromise and try something new. I booked what is called an “Obstructed View” cabin – and I really hoped that I wouldn’t regret it.
There have been both negatives and positives that I hadn’t considered before the cruise, even though I thought I was well prepared.
To save a little more money I booked what is called a “Guaranteed Cabin.”
Find out more about Guaranteed cabins, and examples of ones I have stayed in here:
That meant that I didn’t pick my specific location and could be given a cabin anywhere on the ship and most importantly for me – any level of obstruction.
I could have a tiny thing obstructing the bottom corner of my view. Or I could be facing a lifeboat head-on, with no view of the ocean at all.
The lifeboats usually are a lovely colour – but that didn’t mean that I wanted to stare at one for a whole 12 days!
A couple of months before the cruise my cabin was assigned, when the email popped up I was excited, but a little nervous, I hoped that I’d made the right decision.
I rushed to the Royal Caribbean website and there I found our cabin 6182 at the front of deck 6. The ship I’m on is Spectrum of the Seas built in 2019.
The cabin was close to the stairs which was good, so I moved on to looking at the deck plans above and below to see if there was anything that might be noisy around.
I saw that we were almost directly over the music hall, and for some reason, I had a sixth sense that they may play music there sometimes!
I didn’t know how long it would go on for, or if we would be able to hear it from our cabin, but I hoped that it wouldn’t keep us awake as we had a very busy cruise full of excursions ahead of us.
We were also close to the theatre and I hoped we wouldn’t hear the shows.
I didn’t really know what shows they’d have on an American cruise ship designed for the Chinese market.
On all the documents I had about the cabin, it did say that it was 50% obstructed, but that could have meant anything really.
Is that 50% when I’m sitting down? Standing on a chair? Is that 50% obstructed to the right, left, or above?
It could have been anything and I didn’t know what was blocking the view.
I assumed that it would have been a lifeboat as I was just above the promenade deck, but it could have been any machinery or metal, there are some interesting things on this ship – so it could have been obstructed by a Sky Diving Simulator or a Model Panda perhaps!
Embarkation was a little more complicated than usual thanks to all the different nationalities and different Visas – but it was fairly fast and easy.
Our cabin was ready from 1.30 pm and I think we arrived in the room at around 2 seconds past 1.30pm!
I couldn’t wait to drop off my bag, charge my phone, use the toilet and importantly check out the view – or lack of.
On what is called “turn around” day the cruise ship disembarks all the guests and replaces them with new ones. It’s incredible how they manage to clean and tidy all the rooms so quickly, ready for 1.30pm.
Walking into the cabin I was happy to see that the design was actually the same as the cabin that I had on Anthem of the Seas which I cruised on last year.
We loved that cabin and hoped that this one would be the same – Anthems did have full glorious views of Norway though!
I was instantly drawn to all the paperwork on the desk – and it would turn out that I needed a lot of paperwork on this cruise.
In almost every port we did some customs forms or landing cards. It was a lot, but so worth it!
There was a big sofa here to the side and opposite there was a desk with drawers, a couple of mirrors and a lamp.
I put my phone on charge at one of the U.S. sockets and noticed that we had a kettle.
It’s rare to find a kettle on Royal Caribbean cruises, so that was great.
I never used it though because it was so hot on our cruise, even I had ice in my drinks – and I usually don’t like it.
I honestly had forgotten for a minute about the obstruction, I was just so relieved to finally be in Singapore. I looked up and was like “Oh yeah! What is that?“
I went to have a look outside. As soon as I opened the door my glasses and everything inside the cabin steamed up, it was very very humid, but I would use that and the balcony to my benefit later.
It’s hard to describe the humidity of the places we visited like Vietnam, I’ve never known anything like it. It’s safe to say I was reliant on the air conditioning, and thankfully it was great!
The balcony itself was a good size with two chairs and a table but I was of course more interested in the view.
Looking out I could see the top half of a lifeboat, of course I could, it’s not hard to see it when it’s bright yellow – but more importantly I wanted to have a look down and to the sides to get my bearings.
The deck below us was the promenade deck and the lifeboats were hanging in between.
To the sides were more cabins with a similar view and cabins above with a clear view over the top.
The cabins to the side of us had a worse view with metal davits/ brackets that lower the lifeboats up and down.
I’m not sure if they paid less or more than me, but I was very happy with my view given that I was randomly assigned this cabin.
At the time of booking it would have cost over £300 extra for the two of us to be one deck higher – and I thought there was no way I’d pay that, but I hadn’t encountered any of the cabin’s downsides yet.
I wondered how it would be out here at night, I didn’t know what this would be like during sail-ins or sail-aways.
I was also a little worried about the noise of the lifeboats being put up and taken down. They do use these lifeboats as tender boats and of course, have to test them regularly.
Only time would tell though – I’d notice the first downside of the cabin later that evening.
Coming back into the cabin I headed to the bathroom and found that it had most things on my ideal cruise bathroom checklists – lots of storage, a shower door, a shower that didn’t leak, a night light and a toilet that flushes like most cruise ship toilets do, with suction.
The waste then goes down into a water treatment plant, it’s cleaned in a couple of clever ways before being released into the sea.
The only downside with this bathroom I would found out later on was that the tap water never really got cold, it was hot or warm.
I use the tap water to make squash throughout the cruise so I just had to put it in the fridge for a bit to take off the warm feeling.
The fridge is located down by the desk with 5 big drawers. They were all beautifully soft closing doors which made me happy every time I closed one. There were a couple of extra drawers under the wardrobe too.
There were two hanging sections and there was more storage up high – so we definitely didn’t struggle to find space to put things away.
There were some extra towels and pillows, which was good because the towels were pretty tiny.
I could just about cover up everything I needed to with mine – but for anybody taller or bigger than me it’s always a good shout to get a pool towel from the pool deck to use in your room.
Just make sure you give it back before the end of the cruise – or they’ll charge you $25 for it!
Your Britishism of the week is “Good Shout.” It means a good idea or good suggestion, and it’s usually said in response to somebody else.
If somebody says do you want to pick up a cookie on the way back to our cabin? I’ll say “Oh yeah, that’s a good shout.”
It all looked great, but wasn’t until our first night, and then our first port of call that we really got to see how the cabin worked in reality.
It’s a 7-hour time difference between London and Hong Kong plus a 13-hour flight – so it’s safe to say that I was feeling pretty jet lagged.
I slept a lot on this cruise – not always at the right times of day though!
When trying to go to sleep I noticed that we could hear music, it was quite faint but it definitely was the baseline beat of music.
I can sleep through most things so it was fine – but most nights the music went on well after I’d gone to bed, and sometimes the music in the music hall started at 2 am. I do think light sleepers should avoid cabins directly over nightclubs, hopefully, that goes without saying though.
The beds were very comfortable and there were U.S. sockets by the sides with some storage.
I often sat out on the balcony in the evenings when the temperature had dropped and it was a great space for that.
I couldn’t see much when sat down but when we were sailing into or out of a port I’d usually be up on the top deck anyway. If I was on the balcony I’d stand up, that wasn’t difficult.
We had the most incredible drone show put on for us by one of the Japanese ports and for things like that. we were up on the top deck anyway.
One thing that I didn’t expect pre-cruise was that the promenade deck would be lit up all night, it does make sense as guests can wander around here at any time and the crew are often cleaning or repairing things.
What it meant though was that the light would come in around the curtains; again not a problem for me as I sleep well – but I know some people have to be in completely dark rooms to sleep.
Some cabins do have the bed further into the room and the sofa at this side, so maybe they would be better.
We didn’t use our sofa much during the cruise because it was occupied by the friends of our channel mascot -Captain Hudson.
I should point out it absolutely isn’t normal to get this many towel animals on a cruise, but Captain Hudson was recognised and it was decided that he needed some friends.
One day I woke up, opened my curtains and was looking at the view. I thought “Wow, that looks lovely.” It took me a while to realise why I could see so clearly – the lifeboat was gone!
Don’t worry it hadn’t fallen off during the night, we were tendered in Vietnam and the ship was using its lifeboats to get the guests to land.
With our lifeboat in the way it was a little tricky to take photos of the ports without the lifeboat in them, but for me with this channel and website I think I took more photos of the lifeboat than anything else.
I pretty much knew this lifeboat inside and out, I could see inside which was cool. I did half expect to see somebody or something in there even though I knew that made no sense!
It was nice to have this extra view for the day, but I certainly wouldn’t want to pay the extra price for it.
One of the main reasons I like having a balcony is so that I can feel what the weather is like, and I do also like to be able to dry my clothes outside if I wash any.
That was another benefit of having the balcony. Plus another good point, nobody on land could see into my balcony to see my socks drying! They were hidden behind the lifeboat.
It isn’t just lifeboats that can be between balcony cabins and the ocean, I recently took a cruise where the promenade deck was at the end of my cabin, yep a real promenade deck with guests wandering along it.
To find out what that was like, and why it cost more than a standard balcony, not less, check out this video next:
Before You Go
Find out how to get the best cabin for your budget, without downgrading your cabin grade in the article below:
Find out when is the best time to book your cruise to get the best deal in the post below:
Taking a Cruise: Recommendations and Resources
Book a Cruise
Get Travel Insurance
Shop Cruise Gifts and Merchandise
Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide
Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.