Hump, twin, sweet 16? No, nothing to do with identical camels celebrating a rite of passage. These odd nicknames and marketing speak cover cruising's less common -- but unusually well-loved -- balcony cabins. We've waded deep in the Cruise Critic message boards and comments sections, along with cruise line photo galleries, to unearth examples of at-sea balcony accommodations affording unique views and appointments.
Photo: Cruise Critic
The Bring-the-Outside-In: Celebrity Edge
Coming up in December 2018, Celebrity Edge will mark the first in Celebrity's new Edge-class of ships -- with three more sister ships due to roll out by 2022. The ship's sleek, spacious staterooms have the industry abuzz, thanks in large part to their innovative "infinite veranda" design. These floor-to-ceiling, glass-trimmed verandas open up with just the touch of a button, essentially transforming the entire stateroom into a veritable open-air living space. Most of Edge's staterooms will feature this type of veranda offering, including a new stateroom concept for the line that's designed specifically for solo travelers. Note these types of balconies -- designed to "bring the outside in" -- first debuted in the river cruise market, making appearances on lines like Avalon Waterways, Emerald Waterways and Uniworld in recent years.
Image: Celebrity Cruises
The Patio: Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon
Carnival's 2016-debuted Carnival Vista unveiled a new type of balcony setup for the line, with the Latin-styled, tropics-inspired Havana "cabana" with patio; Vista's sister ship Carnival Horizon will follow suit with the offering when it debuts in March 2018. The patio-trimmed staterooms and suites, clustered on Deck 5, boast floor-to-ceiling windows that open up onto 100-square-foot patios, which can likewise be accessed from the exterior (with a keycard), via a gated entrance connecting to the outdoor Lanai promenade. The backyard-style patios feature two loungers, a table and a hammock-style swing chair.
Member missbusanbeth lauded the patios for their spaciousness and loungers, but cautioned, "There is a bit of a lack of privacy. Technically any of the Havana guests can walk by your room at any time, but other than the first night I never saw anyone walk by."
Photo: Cruise Critic
The Aft: Various
There are countless stern lovers on the Cruise Critic message boards who gush over the ability to meditate on the frothy white trail of water extending into infinity from their back-of-ship balconies. The vast majority of ships have wake-facing cabins (just note they're typically priced at a premium as compared to standard midship balcony cabins), so if you love being aft vs. forward on a ship, it's simply a matter of picking the vessel, then finding the right accommodation on a deck plan.
Photo: Cruise Critic
The Sweet Sixteen: Celebrity's Millennium Class
Old salts and Celebrity loyalists know about the "Sweet Sixteen," eight port and eight starboard balcony cabins found on Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Constellation. Though the balconies are much larger than the average, the Sweet Sixteen are priced as Category 2C cabins -- the cheapest balconied accommodations on the ship. Just don't use the nickname when booking. "If you call Celebrity, or most TAs [travel agents], they won't have a clue what you are talking about," writes Lsimon.
Photo: cyntil8ing/Cruise Critic member
The Twin, Select ships in the AmaWaterways and Viking River fleets
Europe-based riverboats are built long, sleek and low-slung, designed out of the necessity to squeeze under stout medieval bridges and through narrow canal locks. Thus, they typically don't feature full-sized balconies, opting instead for French balconies -- basically a glass door that opens to a railing. There are some exceptions. AmaWaterways offers the "Twin Balcony" on most of its riverboats, which couples a French balcony with a smaller version of the real thing. Viking River Cruises' Longships feature a similar offering in their Veranda Suites, which feature a full balcony in the living room area and a French balcony off the bedroom.
Photo: Cruise Critic
The Cove: Carnival's Dream and Vista classes
Introduced on Carnival Dream, the Coves (on Deck 2) feature semi-enclosed balconies situated 28 feet from the waterline. "There's something about being that close to the water that is just so mesmerizing and calming at the same time," writes Cove aficionado aggiesastrosfan. "I think it really makes you feel like you're out on the open water vs. viewing the water from up high," says salty bones.
Photo: sandij/Cruise Critic member
The Exposed: Princess' Grand Class ships
Princess' Grand-class ships are known for their large number of mini-suites, basically glorified balcony cabins with some bonus indoor and outdoor space. But the Dolphin Deck minis add something else. Because part of the ship's superstructure is "stepped," the cabins on this deck are exposed to the sky, which is a huge plus for sunseekers and stargazers ... though note they are also potentially visible to the prying eyes of fellow passengers above. Member Z0nker cautioned, "... if you step out in your jammies, be aware."
Photo: Cruise Critic
The Hump: Various
Many modern cruise ships have undulating superstructures. The "wave," which runs along the port and starboard sides of the ship, creates variation in balcony sizes. Savvy cruisers know to snag a cabin that falls within a certain category, but has bonus balcony space compared to other rooms at the same price point.
Photo: subtchr/Cruise Critic member
The Tunnel: Celebrity's Solstice Class
It's basically a hump variation, but the angled balconies on Celebrity's Solstice-class quintet are unusually enclosed. For those intent on mixing privacy with sea breezes and lots of space, it certainly fits the bill. However, some find the tunnel-like verandas too enclosed for their taste. "Sorry, but I love bright, open cabins," writes Presto2. "I would be gutted if I walked into this."
Photo: kimcheeboy/Cruise Critic member
The Zipline: Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class
Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class ships, pioneered by Oasis of the Seas, boast countless unique features. One of them is a zipline, which whips cruisers diagonally over the Boardwalk neighborhood (nine decks below) from one side of the hollowed-out stern section to the other. The unique corridor carved lengthwise from the stern forward made way for the industry's first in-facing balconies, and a handful of passengers are afforded an unmatched view of the high-flying action.
Photo: Cruise Critic
The Park View: Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class
Carving an open-air alley lengthwise down the center of the massive Oasis-class ships allows for these unusual "inward-facing" balcony cabins. Some of these offer a view of both the sky and each ship's restaurant- and retail-heavy Central Park, a foliage-rich green space nurturing some 12,000 tropical plants and trees. The obligatory piped in bird chirps accompany the genuine flora.
Still, it's not always as idyllic as it sounds. Passengers looking to read quietly on a Central Park balcony during a sunny sea day may find their senses assaulted from above by the pool band's reggae stylings, transforming his or her mood from irie to irate.
Photo: Cruise Critic
The Tiny Dancer
Fans of Tinker Bell, the Seven Dwarfs or Jiminy Cricket might call Disney Dream's and Disney Fantasy's oddball cabin 5188 "cute." They might even say "aww" the first time they set toe on it. That's because it's one of the smallest private verandas we've seen at sea, so diminutive that only a short bench can occupy the alfresco space (rather than the traditional setup of two chairs and a table). While the size of the balcony may disappoint those looking to do more than lean over the railing or chat (standing up) with a tiny advice-dispensing cricket, the superlative views of the ships' trailing wake will have you muttering hakuna matata.
Photo: khanned/Cruise Critic member
The Corner Aft: Various
Seasoned cruisers know that "corner aft" cabins -- close relatives of the traditional aft cabins (which face the ship's wake head on) -- sell out quickly thanks to alfresco real estate that wraps around the stern, providing unobstructed views of the ship's trail and any port- or starboard-side scenery. Corner aft cabins are staple accommodations on many ships, so consult your applicable deck plan for details. Reader Thomas Nicolai-Vargas lauded the L-shaped variety found in the Vista Suite cabins of Carnival's Spirit-class ships. These coveted cabins, found on various decks, feature 220-square-foot balconies (compared to 245 square feet of indoor space).
Photo: rhnielsen/Cruise Critic member
The Hot Tub: Various
Top-shelf accommodations on several cruise lines sport roomy, whirlpool-topped verandas. For example, Holland America's spacious Pinnacle Suites (found on eight ships) have zigzag teak-lined balconies with their own hot tubs and an inset banquette for alfresco lounging or dining. The Royal Suites on Celebrity Cruises' Millennium- and Solstice-class ships also have alfresco hot tubs, while Seabourn's Wintergarden Suite has a glassed-in, balcony-sized solarium with a tub and daybed. Just keep in mind that these upper-end suites can get pricy, easily running upward of $1,000 per person, per night, so do budget accordingly.
Photo: Cruise Critic
The Solarium: Costa's Serena, Pacifica, Favolosa and Fascinosa
Europe-based Costa Cruises has been a trendsetter in the "spa" accommodation movement, clustering specially designed cabins around the wellness complex. (Many lines -- like Carnival, Celebrity and HAL -- now offer such spa cabins.) Besides the design distinctions (read Asian-inspired artwork, linens, etc.), passengers in Samsara cabins are set within a special area of the ship with unlimited access to the spa's facilities and an exclusive restaurant, while cabins come equipped with robes, spa toiletries ... and, if you're in a forward-facing Samsara Suite, this solarium-style "balcony." Claustrophobic rather than calming? Stifling rather than salubrious? Some might say that. We won't argue, except to add that the sloped wall of windows can be opened to let in sea breezes.
Photo: Costa Cruises
The Show Stopper: Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class
The Oasis-class AquaTheater Suites feature almost as much outdoor space as indoor, and the 600- to 800-square foot wraparound balconies overlook the ships' AquaTheater, a hydraulics-laden, kidney-shaped pool with 2,000 water nozzles and detachable rope ladders. From the balcony, you have front row seats to watch Schwarzenegger types bending each other into pretzels, gymnasts flipping around on trampolines and high divers floating and twisting down from great heights.
Photo: Royal Caribbean
16 Unusual Cruise Ship Balcony Cabins
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Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel: Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks It's the permutations (size, view, location, amenities and price, for example) of the four basic cabin types that can make choosing difficult. In addition to knowing your cabin options, you need to know yourself: Do you tend to get seasick? Do you prefer to nest peaceably on your balcony rather than hanging with the crowd around the pool area? Conversely, is your idea of a stateroom simply a place to flop into bed at 1 a.m. -- no fancy notions necessary? Are there certain amenities you are willing to splurge on, or can you simply not justify paying for unnecessary perks? The answers will help guide you toward selecting the best stateroom for your money. If you're feeling overwhelmed by choice, we'll help you get started with this guide to choosing the best cruise cabins for you and your travel party.
It's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska, Australia, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii, Europe or the South Pacific? The answer depends on many variables. Fall foliage enthusiasts, for instance, will find September and October the best time to take that Canada/New England cruise, whereas water sports-lovers (and families) much prefer to sail the region in the summer when school is out and temperatures are warmer for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights. For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season), which is usually the cheapest time to cruise. High season is typically a mix of when the weather is best and popular travel periods (such as summer and school holidays). However, the best time to cruise weather-wise is usually not the cheapest time to cruise. The cheapest time to cruise is when most travelers don't want to go because of chillier temperatures or inopportune timing (too close to holidays, the start of school, etc.). But the lure of cheap fares and uncrowded ports might make you change your mind about what you consider the best time to cruise. As you plan your next cruise, you'll want to take into consideration the best and cheapest times to cruise and see what jibes with your vacation schedule. Here's a when-to-cruise guide for popular destinations.
The moment you step aboard a luxury cruise ship, a hostess is at your arm proffering a glass of bubbly while a capable room steward offers to heft your carry-on as he escorts you to what will be your home-away-from-home for the next few days. You stow your things (likely in a walk-in closet) and then emerge from your suite to get the lay of the ship. As you walk the decks, friendly crew members greet you ... by name. How can that be? You just set foot onboard! First-class, personalized service is just one of the hallmarks of luxury cruise lines. You can also expect exotic itineraries, varying degrees of inclusivity in pricing, fine wines and gourmet cuisine as well as universally high crew-to-passenger ratios. That being the case, you might think any old luxury cruise ship will do, but that's not quite true. Like people, cruise ships have their own unique personalities -- and some will be more suited to your vacation style than others. Lines like SeaDream might not offer the most spacious suites, but their intimate yachts can stealthily visit ports that large ships can't manage. Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises are owned by the same parent company but Regent offers a completely inclusive vacation experience, while Oceania draws travelers with a more independent streak. Take a look at Cruise Critic's list of best luxury cruise lines and ships to see which one resonates with you.