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Shrinking Balcony Size
Repeat cruisers love and anticipate when a new ship comes out. After all, the ship itself is one of the main reasons that people love to cruise. This year both the Norwegian Breakaway and the Royal Princess began sailing. These ships are a new design for both cruise lines. Repeat cruisers are finding that both ships, even though they offer new features and designs, have disappointed them.
Balcony size is one of the major complaints. Many regular cruisers will spend hours hunting down the perfect balcony for the cruise. The cruise lines are putting less emphasis on the balconies on the new builds and therefore cruisers are often left with limited choices for regular balconies and they are often very narrow and tight.
It is not that the cruise lines can not design larger balconies for these new ships. It is that the cruise lines underestimate the value of larger balconies to repeat cruisers. For many of these repeat cruisers, the balcony size is a deal breaker. Based on balcony size alone, some repeat cruisers have decided to stay clear of these new ships. There are plenty of other ships out there with much larger balconies.
It is disappointing that the cruise lines don't appreciate the value of certain features to repeat cruisers. From their standpoint they prefer to say, "Look at all the other things we gave you instead." However, for a repeat cruiser who loves to sail in a balcony cabin, the balcony is a haven. It is the one place on the outside of the ship where they can claim as their own. It is a place where they like to relax each day and sip a glass of wine, or read a book, while watching the sea go by. It is a place to unwind and stretch out your legs. But on these new ships, stretching the legs can be quite a challenge.
We often think that cruise lines will make the best choices for their passengers. The truth is that they don't always. Profit remains the number one motivator for a cruise line and the loyalty of repeat cruisers is only second place at best. For the cruiser who knows what they want in a ship and will take a stand, I applaud. It is only by speaking up and letting the cruise line know or choosing not to cruise these new ships, that the cruise lines might pay more attention to the needs of repeat cruisers and design even better ships in the future.
Years ago, it was very rare to find even one balcony on a cruise ship. Cruise lines discovered the value of the balcony to the repeat cruiser and began building new ships with balconies. Those balconies grew in size over the years and have become a factor in choosing a cruise ship to sail on. Princess and Norwegian seem to be taking us back to a time when the balcony was not a factor. Hopefully that trend will not continue.
Steve Millay, ACC