by Don McCann
Most of our experienced ocean cruisers prefer to travel in a balcony cabin (and if you have ever experienced one, you certainly know why!) So when booking a river cruise, many are unsure as to the meaning of a “french balcony” and how that will compare. Well, to begin with, the entire river cruise experience is so different that the balcony preference is not nearly as relevant. In Europe, all river ships are restricted in size due to the many locks which they will traverse during the cruise. This limited size requires the ship designers rethink and rework the standard cruise accommodations. So in order to allow the maximum amount of space for the cabin itself, the ‘balcony’ space is a challenge. Therefore, many ships feature the french balcony, which is really floor to ceiling, sliding glass doors which open up for the fresh air (and to stick your head out), but you don’t actually step out onto a true balcony; many people like to think that this transforms the whole cabin into a balcony! Also, the nature of river cruises is such that you are in port a great deal, so there is not as much time to sit out on the balcony as you might think.
To illustrate how different lines offer their accommodations, I’m enclosing a few photos:
As you can see, there are many options and we can help you sort them out. Whichever you choose, river cruises are wonderful and we hope you’ll be taking yours soon!!