Is A Balcony Worth The Extra Cost For A Transatlantic Cruise?

We are starting to look at booking another cruise and now I’m faced with a big decision: Do I pay extra for a Balcony on a transatlantic cruise in the Winter. We’ve had a balcony of two of the last three cruise we’ve sailed, but we have not yet had to pay for one. On the Infinity in November of 2005, we had booked an outside cabin and somehow got upgraded to a Balcony when we checked in at the pier. They never said why we got the upgrade but our thinking was that the cabin we had originally booked, a Standard Outside cabin, was configured so that it could conceivably, though a very tight fit, hold 5 passengers because it had two uppers, two lowers and a sofa bed. The room to which we were upgraded had two lowers, only one upper and a sofa bed. The room was a little tight when the sofa bed was opened up. infitybalconycabin.jpg We did use the balcony when we got to the more tropical waters on the 3rd and 4th days at sea, but I felt like the amount of time we spent out there was perfect for a free baclony, but not worth the extra if we had to pay for it.

The next cruise we took was the Mercury to Mexico. On this particular ship there were no standard balconies that would hold 4 passengers. That left us with a a choice of a Sky Suite or better, a low level outside, standard inside cabin, or large aft Family Ocean View. We chose the aft Family Ocean View because of the larger size, about 224 sq ft, and the value of the price of that cabin over a suite. We really liked having the extra room in the cabin and the sliding partition door between the two sections of the room.

For our next cruise to Alaska, we booked the exact same room, but soon after our booking, rumors abounded that those rooms were going to be converted to balcony cabins. Sure enough the public deck area outside our cabin was partitioned off into a private veranda and the window was converted to a sliding glass door. Still, we weren’t sure if we would utilize the balcony much on the cooler Alaskan itinerary. To our delight, we had beautiful weather for most of the cruise, and the aft location provided shelter from the wind. aftbalconyathubbardglacier.jpg On several occasions our entire party stood at the rail for hours looking at the incredible scenery. We definitely enjoyed this balcony on this itinerary and the aft location worked really well for the cooler climate of Alaska. sceneryfromthebalcony.jpg

Currently, we are looking at a Transatlantic cruise from Barcelona, Spain to San Juan, Puerto Rico in Nov/Dec of this year. I looked online and saw that the weather for much of the itinerary will be similar to the summer weather in Alaska. Highs in the low 70’s and lows in the 60’s while we are in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands. I’m not sure what to expect during our days at sea. Perhaps some rough stormy weather? Perhaps a mix of sun and rain like our Transpacific cruise to Hawaii? Perhaps cool weather until we near the Caribbean?

So, after weighing some of the pro’s and con’s I’ve reached the following conclusion. The price difference between the standard Ocean View and the same size standard Balcony is $450. The price difference between the standard Ocean view and the larger aft Family Ocean View with Veranda is $750. So I’m really thinking that it comes down to our budget more than anything. The Ocean View might make sense if we want to save the $750 to pay for excursions or extras, and if we want a balcony it would be worth it to go ahead and get the sheltered aft cabin when the weather might not be ideal. If we do that, it will be our first paid balcony, but might be worth it.

Nothing is booked right now, we’re waiting to see what our budget for the trip will be, but it will be interesting to see what my husband thinks about the conservative cabin verses the “bit of a splurge” cabin. Another possibility would be to book two connecting Ocean View cabins. This would give us two bathrooms and a lot more space, at about the same price as the aft Family Ocean View with Veranda.

Does anyone have any experience with Winter transatlantic crossings that they can share?