5 Royal Caribbean cruise ship balcony cabins to book (and 2 to avoid) (2024)

The most popular type of cruise ship cabin to book is a balcony, and there are a few types that really stand out as great choices (along with a couple that you might want to think twice about).

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It's easy to see the appeal of a balcony cabin on Royal Caribbean: You get more living space than an inside room, and a private verandah to enjoy the views and get fresh air anytime you want it. Plus, the cost of a balcony cabin is probably not much more than interior cabins.

Read more:Inside cabin vs. balcony room on a cruise ship

No matter which Royal Caribbean ship you sail on, there's sub categories of balcony rooms to choose from that differ based on location, room size, and other factors. If you didn't know any better, you'd assume all balcony cabins are the same, but the reality is that's not the case.

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Most balcony cabins are fairly interchangeable in the sense of how large they are, and where they are located. The difference comes in a few special cases, which can make for a compelling choice.

If you know about these special balcony rooms, you might be able to get your family a room with bonus space or benefits.

Before you book any balcony room on a Royal Caribbean cruise, consider these balcony cabins as great (and not-so-great) choices.

Extra large Central Park balcony

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I couldn't believe these extra large balcony cabins existed until someone pointed them out to me on a cruise.

On Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class ships only, you'll find the Central Park neighborhood (it's on Icon of the Seas too, but it remains to be seen if this trick works on that ship class yet). Each deck has balcony rooms that face into Central Park instead of facing the ocean.

There are two Central Park balcony cabins on each deck that have double the width of a normal balcony room. This is because these rooms are next to a storage area, and there's no cabin space available to create a different cabin. Yet, the balcony is still there.

The cabin numbers are on decks 10, 11 and 12:

  • 10629
  • 11229
  • 11629
  • 12229
  • 12629

Whenever I sail on an Oasis Class ship, I always check if these extra large Central Park balcony cabins are available because you get double the balcony space.

Aft balcony

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I think the first trick I ever learned from people that cruised more than I have is to book an aft balcony on Vision Class or Radiance Class ships.

Read more:5 things people that cruise a lot would tell first time cruisers if they could

There's two reasons to book an aft balcony on these ships.

First, you'll probably get more balcony space. Because of the way the aft cabins are situated, they tend to be set further back into the hull, but have a balcony that extends out to make up the difference.

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Second, people that cruise a lot love the views aft cabins provide because it's a different experience.

On other Royal Caribbean ships, aft balcony cabins could have more space, but there tends to be more in the way of the view. Freedom and Voyager Class ships have a lot of metal superstructure that partially block the view.

Read more:The 5 best cabin locations on a cruise ship

Connecting balconies

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My favorite family cruise tip is to book connecting cabins instead of a single room.

Families tend to look at their cabin choice in the same way they'd pick a hotel room. Because cruise ship cabins are smaller than your average hotel room, and you'll probably spend more time in your stateroom than in a land hotel, cramming into one room is a mistake.

This draws some people to book a suite to make up for the lack of living space, but suite prices can get very expensive.

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Instead, look at two (or more) connecting balcony rooms.

On most ships, the balcony divider can be opened up between cabins adjacent to each other, which means you can end up with an extra large balcony space that rivals most suites.

Plus, you'll pay less than a suite and get separate bedrooms and bathrooms too!

Read more:7 Best Royal Caribbean cruise ships for kids

Sky Junior Suite

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I wasn't going to include suites in this list, but the Sky Junior Suite is an interesting exception.

When Icon of the Seas launches, she will have a new kind of Junior Suite category that greatly builds upon the standard Junior Suite offering.

On all other ships, a Junior Suite is essentially a glorified extra large balcony room.

Sky Junior Suite benefits include Suite Neighborhood access, all-day dining at two suites-only restaurants, free wifi, and concierge service.

Hump balcony

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When I went on my first Radiance Class ship, we booked a hump balcony room and it felt like we hit the jackpot.

If you look at the design of a ship, towards the middle is usually a part that bulges outward, and rooms in this area can sometimes have significantly more balcony space.

There are hump balcony rooms onRadiance Class, Voyager, Freedom, Oasis or Quantum.

You will need to look closely at the deck plan to see which balconies are larger.

Avoid: Obstructed view

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It can be tempting to book an obstructed view cabin to save money, but based on how many negative reviews I read, I'd advise against it.

There are certain balcony rooms that have something blocking the view, which Royal Caribbean refers to as "obstructed view". It could be a partial obstructed view or full obstructed.

You're at a higher chance to get an obstructed view when booking a guarantee cabin. This is because Royal Caribbean picks from leftover cabins your room assignment and as you might imagine, there are not many guests who want to book a room with an obstruction in the way.

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Sometimes the obstruction can be minor, like a lifeboat below your balcony which makes it difficult to look down to the sea below. But other obstructions can truly block your view in the academic sense of the word.

To avoid disappointment, I don't recommend booking these cabins. In fact, I'd sooner book an inside room instead of an obstructed balcony room.

Read more:Royal Caribbean cabins to avoid

Avoid: Virtual balcony

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Despite the name, a virtual balcony isn't actually a balcony room.

The idea is simple: take an inside cabin and add a floor-to-ceiling television that has live views from the outside and augment it with a graphical representation of what a balcony would look like in the foreground.

It sounds nice on paper, but virtual balcony rooms don't compare to the real thing at all.

Think of a virtual balcony as an upgrade from an inside room, rather than a replacement for a balcony cabin.

If you want a balcony because you want the fresh air and extra living space, a virtual balcony will give you none of those.

Planning a cruise? Start here:

  • 8 cruise tips for first-time Royal Caribbean cruisers
  • What’s included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare
  • 5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own
  • Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise
  • Which is the best Royal Caribbean cruise ship?
  • What is the best time to go on a Caribbean cruise?
5 Royal Caribbean cruise ship balcony cabins to book (and 2 to avoid) (2024)
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