What Is A French Balcony On A River Cruise? (And Should You Have One?)
Updated: Oct 4
When choosing the right accommodation package for your river cruise, there are several things that need to be taken into account.
One is the room size, and another is the quality of the room you would like. The different room types can be compared by their amenities.
For example, standard rooms often don’t have windows, second-class rooms tend to have windows but no balconies and suites will often be equipped with verandas, or French balconies, to offer a better view and more ventilation.
But what exactly is a French balcony, and should you have one?
Also called a ‘false balcony’ or ‘pseudo balcony’, French balconies are not really balconies at all.
Whereas traditional balconies consist of a barriered floor jutting out from an apartment or hotel room, a French balcony is actually just a long window or glass door, which can be slid open to let in more ventilation and light.
Usually barriered off in line with the wall, this allows you to lean on the railings or fence, and look out at the scenery on the cruise, while still remaining safely within your room.
The benefits of this are obvious: more ventilation, a better view of the sights from the cruise ship, and the feel of more room within your suite.
The increased ventilation means that those with claustrophobia and other such phobias can have access to fresh air and the feel of open space.
It also means that those who enjoy the heat can have access to the good weather outside, and conversely, so that those who don’t like the stuffiness of the room can get some much-needed fresh air.
Similarly, any kind of hotel room can feel cramped, especially when traveling with other people, as the presence of a French balcony can give a much-needed sense of space in those most trying of moments.
In terms of the view, you might be thinking that the best view is surely seen from the sun deck.
However, the sun decks can be busy and noisy, especially at peak times, so the use of a balcony means that you can have some peace and quiet, and enjoy the view in the comfort of your own room.
When it comes to French balconies, there are several drawbacks, all of them context-dependent.
One major one concerns those traveling with small children. Obviously, children and balconies should never really mix, and curious children can wind up falling overboard if not properly watched by a responsible adult.
Similarly, possessions might be lost or dropped overboard, something that could cause personal upset, especially if it was something priceless, like a prized piece of jewelry.
Something that depends entirely on the context of your chosen cruise is the weather, and whether it is suitable to have the balcony doors open.
Cold environments obviously do not warrant the doors open, as this could lead to you catching a cold or the room becoming damp.
Similarly, environments with poor weather conditions like rain or snow could restrict your usage, meaning that paying the extra money for the balcony might be a waste of time.
Things To Remember
If you are indeed considering a French balcony on your next river cruise, then take note of these handy things to remember.
They Aren’t A ‘Must’
The first thing to remember is that you don’t necessarily need one to have a good time, or indeed to get the most out of your cruise.
Obviously, if you have your heart set on one, then by all means do it, but for those wondering whether it is the only way to properly enjoy a cruise, then the answer is no.
Cruises Are Social
While by no means a rule, cruises are generally social vacations, where people go to chat with their fellow passengers and immerse themselves in social activities.
While this isn’t compulsory, it does beg the question of why anyone not wanting to socialize would trap themselves aboard a boat full of strangers for a prolonged period of time.
Ultimately, the best way to make the most of a cruise is to get out, chat with passengers and crew members, and make the most of the amenities you have paid for.
If it is your intention to lean against a balcony and stare at the view, then there are certainly cheaper vacation alternatives on the market.
Other Balconies Are Available
While French balconies are certainly the most common, it is worth pointing out that certain cruise companies offer roomier balconies on their river cruises, including ones where you can sit outside and be out in the open air.
While not common, this could make a balcony worth your while if you are on the fence about upgrading.
Choose Upper Rooms
If you are indeed opting for a French balcony, then choose one of the upper rooms. This will not only provide you with the best view but will mean you don’t have other passengers talking above you and potentially spoiling the atmosphere.
Book In Advance
Ultimately, the best way to get the stateroom of your choosing is to book well in advance. As far as cruises are concerned, it is not unusual for people to book their places a year in advance.
This is the best way to ensure you aren’t disappointed, and that your room isn’t decided by circumstance.
Do Your Research
The most important thing is to do your research. This is true of any vacation, and will ensure you not only get the right option for you but that you get the best price available.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about French balconies, and whether they are necessary for a river cruise.
Remember, do your research, and make the right choice for your circumstances.
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