I'm wondering if it's really a must have for a balcony stateroom for an Alaska cruise. That's a little bit more than I'd be willing to spend, so I'm wondering if I can just book an inside room, and just get up early in the morning and go up to the top deck to view the scenery.
I'm in the very early stages of thinking about another cruise, and it will probably be in September of 2012, and I'm trying to decide between Alaska or the Eastern Caribbean.
2007 - Majesty of the Seas (Bahamas)
2009 - Enchantment of the Seas (Western Caribbean)
2010 - Freedom of the Seas (Western Caribbean)
2013 - Golden Princess (Alaska, roundtrip from Seattle)
A balcony is never a "must;" it is nice to have, especially in Alaska--but certainly not a "must." If the price is not in your "comfort zone" I wouldn't do it. If for some reason the weather was not so good on your particular cruise and you didn't get much use out of your balcony, you'd feel terrible--even cheated. There are plenty of good vantage points inside and out on deck.
Great points mentioned above. It's not a "must", but a nice upgrade if your the type of person that enjoys having more privacy while enjoying those special moments. I enjoy a balcony even if there's nothing but the sound of wind and sea when I'm sitting out on it whether it be day or night. Then again, I get a special discount for a balcony cabin because of my Crown and Anchor status. If I had to pay an extra three or four hundred dollars extra for a balcony cabin...I wouldn't do it. For that much difference in price I would be content to find a spot top side to enjoy the experience of the sound and sites enjoyed by the folks in balcony cabins. Another thing-- if I were contemplating booking a cruise either to Alaska or the Carribean, it would be a no-brainer. CARIBBEAN!
We have an oceanview (no balcony) cabin for our upcoming Alaska cruise. For these itineraries, we'd rather spend the money on shore excursions. These can get rather expensive, especially the sightseeing tours by helicopter (that I hear are magnificent).
My two cents would be to book an outside now through a travel agent. Then keep an eye on the prices. The way the economy is shaping up and the fact that September is late season for Alaska, you may well be in line for an upgrede.
You'll be able to watch the bridge cam from your cabin, and know when to head to the upper decks. The fully enclosed, panoramic view lounges are a pretty comfortable place to watch the scenery
I went the first time to Alaska,,without balcony,and REALLY regretted it...missed SO much and should have forked out the extra money,,,as it was WELL WORTH it...now I ALWAYS insist on one,,and NEVER regretted it...just love the views,open air and sounds,,etc...so I say GO FOR IT...best money you ll ever spend...just MY opinion,of course...PS..I also had plans to get up early,go on deck,etc,,,but sure loved future cruises were I could stay in pj s and just take my time,,even order room service,,see views with coffee in robe,,etc...priceless.
It is all a personal preference of course, and if it is "worth it" depends on how a person perceives the value they receive. On one of my Alaska cruises I had a balcony and enjoyed it very much. When we were at Hubbard Glacier I sat on my balcony with a blanket and hot chocolate and watched sea otters play for over an hour. When we were at Ketchikan I enjoyed sitting on the balcony watching the sea planes take off and land. Going up on deck may work for some people but I find it too crowded trying to fight for rail space.
Rail space is especially problematic for the glacier day. When we were up close and personal with Sawyer glacier I was glad we had a balcony. I went topside after a while and people were two deep along the rails at at the front of the ship. I ended up climbing to the highest passenger area I could find to snap a couple of photos.
In my opinion, a balcony in Alaska is as close to a "must" as you can get! The vistas are so magnificent that it's a shame to miss a single minute of it. That being said, I should explain that my husband and I love wildlife and nature. So mountains, glaciers, whales, etc. are our main interests. We would skimp on the excursions to see the nature (except we would splurge for the White Pass Railway in Skagway).
Yes, we spent time on the decks, too. But like Dave said, it can sometimes be difficult to get good spots on glacier day or when coming in to the ports.
All I can say is you will love Alaska no matter what you choose. We've been there twice and hope to go again in 2013.