Know your … river cruise balconies

Our new regular column sets out to decode some common industry jargon


On a recent river cruise, cruise adviser spoke to a guest who complained that they thought they’d booked a walk-on balcony, but instead their cabin had a French balcony, which is easily the most common type on European waterways. It can be confusing – you’ll notice lots of different names for similar types of products. River cruise lines have innovated to the extent that their ocean-going cousins are starting to take notice: Celebrity Edge’s Infinity Verandas are straight out of the river cruise playbook, allowing the benefits of a balcony without sacrificing space. Broadly speaking, however, there are only a few different types of balcony cabins. We help decode them here in the first of a new series…

French balconies (pictured main)
It’s rare that you find French balconies called French balconies nowadays, but their replacements basically do the same job: they are balconies with a railing, meaning you can’t walk out on to them. Avalon Waterways calls them Open-Air Balconies, Uniworld goes for Full Open Air Balconies; while Riviera opts for the more traditional Juliet Balcony. With river ships constricted by width, these are the most commonly found: they don’t eat into the cabin and aren’t wasted space when the weather is bad.

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Full balconies
Full balconies, walk-on balconies, verandas… whatever you want to call them, these are the same as the balconies you get on ocean cruise ships, albeit a little bit smaller and level with the side of the ship (rather that protruding from it). Viking offers them on its Longship fleet, and they come with a small table and chairs – when the sun is out, there is no better place to be. It’s worth mentioning Scenic, which, with its innovative Sun Lounge system, allows guests to convert an area of their cabin into a full balcony by opening a connecting door and pressing a button so that a window lowers. The area can therefore be used in both good and bad weather, but still feels like a balcony.

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Twin balconies
AmaWaterways boasts twin balconies on many of its ships – that means a French balcony with a sitting area as well as a full walk-on balcony adjacent to it. Viking offers something similar in its Explorer Suites, which are situated at the stern of the ship.

Cruise Adviser

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