What does booking a suite get you that is not included with a balcony, and what makes one a balcony a better choice over a suite?
These sort of questions can stymie new cruisers who want to know if moving up to a suite from a balcony is worth it, and what the differences are between these types of staterooms.
If you want to know what makes a balcony different from a suite, here is a good breakdown between these popular categories of cruise ship rooms.
Off the bat, you may notice a difference in price between a balcony and a suite. Depending on the type of suite, this price difference can be substantial.
While a balcony stateroom price is widely regarded as "affordable" for most vacation budgets, suite prices can really run the gamut from "reasonable" to "outrageous".
Royal Caribbean has a wider variety of suite categories to choose from than balcony rooms.
Many repeat cruisers will compare the price of both types of rooms, before deciding if the extra cost is worth it.
Of course, what you pay for these rooms has to factor in what you get with the stateroom.
Balcony staterooms are like other standard cabin accommodations, where essentially it is larger cabin than smaller stateroom options, with the primary benefit being you have a private verandah to enjoy anytime you want.
A suite is an even larger balcony room that comes with a variety of additional benefits meant to justify the higher cost.
The exact benefits you can expect with a suite can vary, but here are the most common amenities included:
- Priority embarkation/disembarkation
- Complimentary Pressing on First Formal Night
- Concierge Service
- Priority Dining Reservations
- Bridge, Galley & Backstage Tours
- Suite Lounge/Concierge Club Access (Hors d’oeuvres and Cocktails Each Evening)
- Priority Tendering (Where Applicable)
- Welcome Fruit Amenity
- Welcome Evian Water
- Main Dining Menu Available for In Suite Dining (During Operating Hours)
- Complimentary 24-Hour Room Service
- In Room Mr. Coffee/Tea Service (kettle)
- Reserved Section in Theater - Main, Studio B, AquaTheater, Two70
You should be aware that Junior Suites do not include the full set of suite benefits that other suites do. Despite its name, Junior Suites are more like "extra large balcony rooms".
A big difference between a balcony and a suite is the amount of room you get with each cabin.
Balcony rooms are fairly large spaces that can accommodate between 2-4 guests (depending on the type of balcony room).
As an example, on Allure of the Seas, a Superior Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony comes in at 182 square feet, plus a 53 square foot balcony.
Suites start out being a bit larger than a balcony room, and some of the biggest suites can span the size of multiple smaller cabins.
Suites range in size from 350 to almost 1,400 square feet, and the biggest ones feel like a luxury apartment, rather than a cruise ship cabin.
Not only do suites provide more living space, it also means these are the kind of rooms you would need to book if you want to have more than 4 people in one room.
Families traveling with 5, 6 or even more passengers can find larger suites that can accommodate them. Family suites on some of Royal Caribbean's newer ships have multiple bedrooms and are designed for multi-generational cruisers.
Another key difference between a balcony and a suite is how many Crown and Anchor points you earn by staying in either cabin.
A balcony cabin will get you 1 point for every night of the cruise (2 points per night if you are solo in that room).
A suite will earn 2 points for every night of the cruise (3 points per night if you are solo in the suite).
Staying in a suite is one of the best ways to move up the ranks of the Crown and Anchor Society (the name of Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program) because those double points add up quickly.
Should you book a balcony or suite?
Ultimately, the decision to book a suite or balcony cabin is going to be a personal decision based on price, what's included and other subjective considerations.
If there was an equation for deciding, the variables change from sailing to sailing, and ship to ship.
While some people will stick to one category over the other on principle, many more weigh the options and prices before picking.
There is not a right or wrong decision, just a question of what you have budgeted and what you are looking for in an onboard experience.