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Suite vs. Cruise Balcony With Extras: A Detailed Comparison
Cruise Balcony vs. Suite: A Cabin Comparison (Photos: Cruise Critic)

Suite vs. Cruise Balcony With Extras: A Detailed Comparison

Suite vs. Cruise Balcony With Extras: A Detailed Comparison
Cruise Balcony vs. Suite: A Cabin Comparison (Photos: Cruise Critic)
Erica Silverstein
Contributor
By Erica Silverstein
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You're ready to splurge on a spacious cruise cabin, but how do you choose between a cruise balcony vs. a suite? Cruise ships have many options for high-end rooms, so it's best to assess what you'll get and compare that with what you need or desire in a home-away-from-home at sea.

Balcony v Suite

So you're ready to splurge on a spacious cruise cabin, but how do you choose between a cruise balcony and a suite? Cruise ships have many options for high-end rooms, so it's best to assess what you'll get and compare that with what you need or desire in a home-away-from-home at sea. Should you splurge for a suite or opt for a cheaper balcony cabin and use the money you save to treat yourself with onboard extras?

The main differences between cruise ship balcony staterooms and suites are size, perks and price. Cruise suites can range from a tad larger than balcony cabins to enormous, multilevel rooms that might be bigger that your home or apartment. Bathrooms will also be spacious, possibly with a tub or dual sinks, and storage space might be expanded to a walk-in closet.

Standard balconies don't receive any special perks. If you book an upgraded class of balcony -- such as a spa cabin or concierge cabin -- you might get a limited selection of perks, such as afternoon canapes, upgraded toiletries or even access to exclusive dining venues. If you want the most extras, book a suite for amenities like butler and concierge service, priority embarkation and tendering, exclusive access to certain lounges and dining venues, free or discounted laundry and Internet, and private parties and happy hours. However, it is important to remember what is on offer can vary greatly between different cruise lines.

On cruise lines with limited suite benefits (or if you don't need the extra space), you could be better off opting for a standard balcony cabin and using the money you save on extras such as drink packages, specialty dining and laundry services.  The following comparison between an entry level suite and a balcony cabin with extras should help make your decision easier. (Please note: Prices listed below are based on sailings from Australia and are subject to change.)

Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas

The Suite:

Suite class on Ovation of the Seas delivers when it comes to perks, with access to a Concierge Lounge serving complimentary evening drinks, the suite-only Coastal Kitchen restaurant, priority check-in, reserved seating in the main theatre for shows, upgraded Gilchrist or L'Occitane products, priority tender tickets, bathrobes for onboard use, free pressing service on formal nights, and priority departure in each port of call. The most affordable Ovation of the Seas' suite, a Grand Suite (AU$447 per person per night), is a generous 43 sq. m (460 sq. ft), with a master bedroom and living room separated by a half wall and a curtain, and a marble bathroom with a tub and two sinks.

The Balcony:

If you opt for one of the larger Superior Ocean View Stateroom Balcony cabins, you will have between 23 sq. m  (198 sq. ft) and 29 sq. m (317 sq. ft) to move around in. At around AU$243 per person per night for a balcony cabin, you could add dinner in a specialty restaurant each night and a premium drinks package and still have AU$50 a day to spend at the onboard stores.

The Verdict:

While it is possible to save money by booking a balcony cabin and adding your own extras, a Grand Suite has the edge due to its superior size and the exceptional array of perks available for suite guests. On a large ship such as Ovation of the Seas this suite experience is particularly appealing as you get to drink and socialise with a select group of other guests and feel like you are part of an exclusive club. If you can afford it, go for it.


Carnival's Carnival Spirit

The Suite:

Junior Suites are 33 sq. m (355 sq. ft) and include separate dressing and sitting areas, double sinks and a whirlpool bath. If you want more space to relax outside, opt for one of the more expensive Ocean Suites, which come with a larger balcony. Suite guests receive VIP check-in. Expect to pay around AU$230 per person per night for a Junior Suite.

The Balcony:

Balcony cabins are one third smaller than a Junior Suite and have sofas that convert to a third bed. Standard balcony furniture includes two metal chairs with plastic mesh seating and a small metal table. 

The Verdict:

Virtually no perks and a standard size balcony make it hard to justify the extra A$50 per person per night for a Junior Suite. Book a balcony and treat yourself to sushi, Champagne or dinner at Nouveau Restaurant every day instead.


The Pinnacle Suite on Noordam

Holland America's Noordam

The Suite:

Signature Suites are impressively large, ranging from 34 sq. m (372 sq. ft) to 36 sq. m (384 sq. ft). There is a sofa that folds out into a double bed and bathrooms have dual sinks, a whirlpool tub and a separate shower. These entry level suites do not receive any additional benefits.

The Balcony:

Starting from AU$228 per person per night, balcony cabins on Holland America's Noordam range from a small 19 sq. m (212 sq. ft) to 33 sq. m (359 sq. ft). Balconies are roomy enough for two chairs, a small table and a footrest; some are slightly larger and accommodate a third chair.

The Verdict:

Unless you really want the extra space, it is hard to justify the extra AU$175 per person per night for a Signature Suite. Opt for a balcony, with dinner at Pinnacle Grill each night and a premium drinks package, and you'll still get change from the $175 you saved. 


Princess Cruises' Golden Princess and Emerald Princess

The Suite:

Club Class Mini-Suites are up to 30 sq. m (323 sq. ft) and include access to a dedicated dining area in the main dining room featuring expedited seating and expanded menu options, priority embarkation and disembarkation, priority specialty dining reservations, complimentary in-room wine set-up, premium evening canapes, upgraded in-suite amenities and a welcome glass of Champagne on embarkation day. You also get a sitting area with a pull-out sofa, second flat-screen TV and bathroom with a tub.

The Balcony:

Balcony cabins range from 21 sq. m (230 sq. ft) to 25 sq. m (274 sq. ft) and come with a balcony furnished with two chairs and a small metal table. Expect to pay around AU$238 per person per day.

The Verdict:

It costs an additional AU$100 per day for a Club Class Mini-Suite but the extra space and amenities make this a worthwhile spend.


Haven Suite

Norwegian's Norwegian Jewel

The Suite:

Penthouse Suites are up to 53 square metres (572 square feet) and feature a separate bedroom with queen-sized bed and flat-screen TV with CD/DVD player and library, separate living and dining areas, a bathroom with a separate or combination shower and tub, a larger sized balcony and a walk-in closet. Penthouse suites come with a butler, concierge services and welcome champagne on embarkation day. Expect to pay around AU$454 per person per night.

The Balcony:

Balcony cabins are less than half the size of a suite, with an outdoor area that seats two adults comfortably (or three at a pinch).

The Verdict:

A balcony cabin might be half the size of a suite but it is also half the price. With limited suite perks on offer, you could be better off with a balcony cabin, drinks package and dinner at Cagney's Steakhouse every night.


Azamara' Azamara Journey

The Suite:

Club Continent suites (30 sq. m/326 sq. ft) are the most affordable suite option on Azamara Journey and include a variety of perks, such as English butler service, priority check-in and departure, free dining-in specialty restaurants, complimentary garment pressing of two items, afternoon canapes, welcome bottle of sparkling wine and a wet bar set-up that includes one 375 ml bottle each of Stolichnaya Vodka, Bacardi Gold Rum, Bombay Sapphire Gin and Johnnie Walker Red Label Scotch, plus cranberry and orange juice. Storage space is expanded with a long bank of deep drawers and the sitting area features a table, chair and either an armchair or sofa. You also get a much larger television.

The Balcony:

Club Veranda cabins on Azamara Journey are not particularly large, between 20 sq. m (215 sq. ft) and 22 sq. m (239 sq. ft), which means storage space can be somewhat limited. Some balcony cabins have armchairs, while others have sofas, a handful of which convert into beds. The complimentary drink set-up in balcony cabins includes soft drinks and beer.

The Verdict:

The main reason to book a suite on Azamara Journey comes down to space as non-alcoholic drinks, standard spirits and beers, and house wines are included in every fare. While you do get your own wet bar in a suite, you can easily get a G&T from one of the bars. It costs an additional AU$260 extra per person per day for a suite which, when you look at the limited number of perks (given alcohol is already included), could be hard to justify. However, if you love watching television and like extra room to move (and store your things), a suite could be for you.


P&O Cruises' Pacific Eden

The Suite:

The 54 sq. m (575 sq. ft) suites on Pacific Eden are almost twice the size of a balcony cabin with a living area, walk-in wardrobe and dressing room with table, chair and mirror. Perhaps the best thing about these suites is the enormous balcony, which has room for a table and four chairs and two sun loungers, with plenty of space in between. Suite perks include priority check-in and disembarkation, complimentary laundry service, a Nespresso coffee machine, iPod music system, free bottled water and soft drinks in the fridge and complimentary in-room dining with afternoon tea and canapes delivered on request. Expect to pay around AU$230 per person per night.

The Balcony:

Balcony cabins on Pacific Eden are 27 sq. m (283 sq. ft) and designed for two passengers, although some have the option of a third berth, with a whirlpool bath and shower in the bathroom.

The Verdict:

If space is important to you then a suite on Pacific Eden is the way to go. However, foodies may prefer to stay in a balcony stateroom and enjoy dinner and a glass of wine at the much-lauded Salt Grill every night instead.


Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2

The Suite:

Princess Suites are larger and more luxurious than the ship's balcony cabins and cost around AU$860 per person per night. They contain high-end fixtures and have extra desk space and an armchair as well as the sofa in the sitting area. Suite amenities include concierge service, sparkling wine and chocolates in the cabin upon arrival, daily fresh fruit, monogrammed stationary and an upgraded soft velour robe and slippers. Princess Suite passengers eat in the Princess Grill, a suite-only restaurant that offers a more personalized dining experience with better quality food and service.

The Balcony:

There are two types of balcony cabins, Britannia Balcony and Britannia Club, with minimal differences between the two. These 23 sq. m (248 square feet) to 25 square metre (269 square feet) balcony cabins are around 10 square metres smaller than a Princess Suite yet they still have ample storage space. Balconies feature two plastic-covered sun loungers and a small circular table. Passengers staying in non-suites are allocated to the Britannia Restaurant or Britannia Club, with prices starting at AU$420 per person per night.

The Verdict:

While there is not a huge size difference between a Princess Suite and a Britannia Club balcony cabin, a passenger class system still exists on Queen Mary 2. It costs almost double to stay in a suite but this entitles you to a more refined onboard experience, harking back to the golden days of cruising. If money is no object, go for the suite.


Penthouse Suite on Celebrity Eclipse

Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Solstice

The Suite:

Sky Suites represent the bulk of the suite inventory on Celebrity Solstice and are 35 sq. m (379 sq. ft) including the balcony, which is accessed through floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. The living room has a sofa queen sleeper, vanity and 40-inch LCD TV and bathrooms with a shower/tub combination and washbasin, additional custom bath products and Hansgrohe showerheads. Perks include a butler service, in-suite lunch and dinner service, in-suite espresso and cappuccino from Cafe al Bacio, dining at the suite-only Luminae restaurant and an exclusive Michael's Club lounge with dedicated Concierge plus complimentary drinks and canapés. Expect to pay around AU$490 per person.

The Balcony:

Balcony staterooms are 23 sq. m (249 sq. ft) and have a couch with a small table plus a desk and chair and a balcony with two chairs and a pedestal table.

The Verdict:

Staying in a balcony cabin will save you around AU$200 per person per night, but all those perks make it is very easy to justify upgrading to a suite.

Updated January 08, 2020

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