When some dream of a cruise, they picture portholes with an ocean view, lounging on the pool deck, and a large balcony cabin. But what side of the ship should you chose for your balcony room? When choosing a forward-facing or backward-facing cruise ship cabin, where you are going may not be as important as where you've been, and vice versa. Forward-facing balconies, located on the front of the ship, are a newer trend in ship design and are therefore usually more expensive and hard to find. Backward-facing balconies, also known as aft-facing balconies, are located at the wake of the ship and may even cost the same as a standard balcony stateroom. Read these cruise tips to decide what’s your best cabin to have your best cruise, and check out the deck plans on your specific ship to see what specific type of cabins are available.
A Good Reason to "Wake" Up
If you're prone to seasickness, hate gusty wind, are traveling on a budget and want a quiet, far-from-the-elevators stateroom, go with the backward-facing stateroom. With an aft cabin, not only will you wake up to the beauty of the ship's wake, you'll feel less ship movement, encounter less wind, and, on most ships, will spend considerably less. Keep in mind that when a cruise disembarks on a port day, you might feel a slight vibrating sensation from the propeller below. It's also important to note that a strong tailwind can reverse the wind direction, making the backward-facing balcony more windy than the forward-facing option.
The Leo and Kate Effect
While more expensive than backward-facing balconies, forward-facing balconies are one of the most trendy options on a cruise, if you do not mind feeling the rolling of the waves and the stronger wind on high sea days. Forward-facing staterooms usually boast larger overall cabin size, extra space, and a larger balcony, but bad weather can mean less outdoor balcony time. On a cruise to somewhere warmerl, like the Caribbean or Mediterranean, the strong breeze may be nice on those hot days. But on a ship to Alaska, it won’t be the same treat. For some, the chance to see the world from the perspective of Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet may be worth it.
The Corner Aft Option
Some cruise lines offer corner aft stateroom balconies, or backward-facing balcony staterooms that form an L-shape as they hug one of the back corners of the ship. Corner aft balconies are an interesting alternative to the backward-facing option, but keep in mind that due to the curve in the balcony, you may face an obstructed view and the deck may be oddly-shaped or smaller than standard balconies. If these obstructions aren’t a deterrence to you, though, they can be a great option.
Seasickness, Motion Sickness and Mobility Concerns
When choosing between a backward-facing or forward-facing balcony, it's important to consider your tolerance for seasickness. Cabin location can be very influential in determining your reaction. While backward-facing balconies are considerably more stable than forward-facing, choosing the low-deck over the upper decks, and the mid-ship over the sides of the ship, offers the most stability. Lower deck balconies in the middle of the ship offer the best stability for patch-wearing travelers. If this is your first time cruising and you are unsure your reaction to rough seas, it’s better to go with the safer option, not necessarily the top deck.
Your own mobility should also be a concern when choosing a forward-facing or backward-facing cabin. On most ships, cabins at the back of the ship tend to be the farthest from the elevators, while forward-facing staterooms are near the main front elevators of the ship.