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So You'd Like A Balcony Stateroom, Would You?

World's Largest Cruise Ship Arrives In U.S. For First TimeOur previous post was about cruise-ship balconies. Something we didn't mention is that on cruise ships there are balconies…and there are balconies. Not one size fits all.

There are cove balconies, aft balconies, corner aft balconies, inward balconies, penthouse balconies…

The balcony staterooms most of us are accustomed to generally cost between $800 and $1,000 a week (per person), depending on the line, the ship and the time of year. There is, however, a whole world of options out there, some for less and most for more.

The cheapest (okay, least expensive) is the "cove balcony." It's built into the ship, on the lowest deck (usually Deck 2), and rumor has it you'll only find it on the Carnival Dream, Magic and Breeze. As a rule of thumb, you'll pay a little less than the higher regular balconies.

Available on most ships is the "aft balcony." It's at the back (duh, aft) and might cost $100 or so more than the regular balcony. This is not to be confused with the "corner aft" balcony, which has an L-shaped balcony and might more than double the cost of image014 copyyour cruise. And this is not to be confused with the "penthouse balcony." They're on the outside of large apartments that include extras like private hot tubs, private bars, extra beds and bathrooms and and a pricey tag that mitt be like taking 10 cruises in a normal balcony stateroom.

And if you're not hung up on seeing the sea and inhaling the fresh air, "inward balconies" that overlook the heart of the ship will save you a few dollars…usually on Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class ships.

As you might expect, each type has its fans and its detractors.

Well, okay, maybe not the penthouses…

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Riding the river from Budapest to Amsterdam

Celebrity Constellation
12 nights
July 20, 2014
Amsterdam (return): BerlinTallinnSt. PetersburgHelsinkiStockholmCopenhagen
Oceanview: $1,499
Cost per day: $124

Changing World Of Cruise Ship Balconies

Many cruisers (including these two) will do everything possible to enjoy a balcony stateroom on a cruise. There are people, we're told, who simply won't go on a cruise if they can't get one.

How times have changed.

Once, balconies were at such a premium that they cost twice as much as an inside stateroom. Today, while they're still more expensive, they run about 25 per cent more.

Once, cruise ships had no balcony staterooms (i.e. The Love Boat or the Titanic), and the watershed date for that change was Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas, which increased the number available to five per cent of the staterooms. Today's new ships are built with 65 per cent, or more.

Once, the number of balconies depended on space available on the outside decks of ships. Some of today's ships have virtual (or will have) balconies on inside cabins…and balconies that face the inside of the ship.

Next month, we'll be getting a taste of that one when we board Allure of the Seas. The balcony rooms overlooking Central Park became popular after the arrivals of Allure and its sister ship, Oasis of the Seas, and Royal Caribbean has other ships with balconies that overlook the Promenade in the heart of the ship.

Stay tuned.

Later this month, the new Regal Princess will arrive in Europe. It will have a balcony-inside ratio of 80-20.

Indeed…how times have changed!

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
July 13, 2014
Bayonne (return): King’s Wharf
Inside: $899
Cost per day: $128


No More Bathroom Humor for Norwegian

Finally, Norwegian is able to put its Epic bathroom to bed. If you’ve been reading this cruise blog, or even if you haven’t, you’ll already know that the Epic bathroom issue is that a somewhat-open design created all kinds of controversy.

You’ll also know our opinion is that it was, for the most part, much ado about nothing. In our seven days on the Epic, we heard the odd complaint…while eavesdropping on or asking some of the ship’s 6,000 passengers. The pros and cons have been detailed here before, and the reason for raising the issue again is that Norwegian has.

The press release designed to draw attention to two new ships NCL will launch in 2013 and 2014 did not specifically address the controversy, but apparently CEO Kevin Sheehan did, when he said the new vessels would have “fully enclosed bathrooms.”

The Epic balcony stateroom bathrooms were not. Anybody who has been on the Epic will notice the remarkable difference in the prototype depicted here…and, yes, it is hard to believe a picture of a bathroom is that important, but it is.

The new ships — without names for now — are categorized by NCL as “Project Breakaway” and they are being designed to capture the best features of the 10 ships NCL has launched since 2001. For some reason, the Norwegian Spirit (2000) was excluded from the list….hmmm?

More new-ship announcements will be spaced out over the coming months so that Norwegian can begin building to the launch dates, in consecutive Aprils. None of the announcements will deal with the bathrooms.

And if they do, you won’t read about it here!

Will Princess Puff Policy Spread?

News item: Princess Cruises to prohibit smoking in staterooms and on balconies. You know what this really means, don’t you?

Democracy’s at work.

The decision by Princess — likely to become the industry standard — is the result of consumer studies. It will take effect early next year.

“Smokers are a small minority of our customers,” says Executive Vice-President Jan Swartz, “and the large majority of passengers value having their primary living space onboard smoke-free.”

Because we have always lived in a democracy, we’ve always tried to subscribe to “majority rules” even in this age where often “minority rules” because the minority has the loudest voices or the squeakiest wheels. In this case, Princess is responding to changing customer preferences.

Remember when restaurants and office buildings were doing the same thing (even if it was in many cases legislated)? There was an outcry from smokers. Today, it is accepted.

The same thing will soon happen on the seas…everywhere.

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