Updated January 25, 2019
One of the most important decisions you'll need to make when booking a cruise is deciding which room type (or category) you want. For most cruisers, the decision comes down to oceanview versus balcony cabins. To decide, you'll want to look at which option makes the most sense for the destination you're visiting, as well as for your budget. We break down the similarities and differences of the two room types to help you decide whether a balcony or oceanview cabin is right for you.
Balcony vs. Oceanview: Similarities
Oceanview and balcony cabins are more alike than they are different. In general, both are the same size and can be located on almost any deck, in any location (forward, midship and aft), though some cruise ships will not offer any balconies on lower decks. Both balconies and oceanviews typically have twin beds that can convert into a queen, a desk and small sitting area either with an armchair or a sofa. Some also have extra berths in order to fit a third or fourth passenger in the cabin.
Both also have the same standard amenities including TVs, hair dryers and safes, and in some cases coffee makers and minifridges (this varies by cruise line). Bathrooms in both cabin types vary, but generally feature a shower, sink and toilet and limited shelf space.
Oceanview vs. Balcony: Differences
The key difference between oceanview rooms and balcony cabins is, of course, one has a window and the other has a private verandah, usually furnished with a couple of chairs and a drinks table. Oceanview cabins can have either a rectangular window or a round porthole, which typically do not open. Most balcony cabins have floor-to-ceiling glass doors so you can still see outside even if the weather isn't good. Because balcony cabins have this additional outside space, they cost more money.
Balcony vs. Oceanview: Bottom Line
Whether you choose an oceanview or balcony cabin should come down to two primary considerations: price and itinerary. Can you afford the extra money you'll pay for a balcony? Or, even if you can afford it, would you prefer to spend that extra money on some other cruise experience (drinks, shore excursions, the spa)?
Secondly, will you use your balcony? If you're sailing in the Caribbean or some other warm-weather destination, chances are you'll spend some time out on your private balcony. You may also use it in cold-weather destinations like Alaska or Norway where the scenery is stunning. But in other cruise destinations such as the Baltic or New England you may not.