Although we have booked inside or ocean view cabins to save some money in the past, it’s usually preferable to have a cabin with a balcony. When sailing in the Covid world my sisters and I didn’t even consider a room without one. So far since cruising started back up on sailings that didn’t get cancelled people have boarded and disembarked as scheduled for most cruises. Even when a few passengers test positive during a cruise the sailings have gone on, but the future can be uncertain. If we happened to be on a ship that got quarantined and had to spend a lot of time in our cabin that little bit of outdoor space a balcony provides is the difference between the option to get some fresh air or being stuck completely inside. Hopefully cruise ship quarantines are a thing of the past as they just caused many more people to get sick back when covid first started, but you never know – especially as Covid restrictions ease and numbers of passengers on the ships increases. At the time of our sailing passengers had to provide negative tests to board, but those may have been taken before they took a flight on an airplane, stayed in a hotel, and had meals in restaurants. Then there’s the under 2 passengers who slipped through the cracks unmasked, unvaccinated, and untested that could bring anything onboard even on cruises where vaccines were required for everyone of age and tests for everyone over 2.
All that aside, it’s nice to have the balcony regardless. It gives you a bit of private outdoor space if you want to sit outside in peace, or if you just want to know what the temperature is like before getting dressed to go ashore. And the view is great too. Since there’s not a clothesline in the shower on Symphony of the Seas, it also made a bit of space to hang wet swimsuits over the chairs at least until they stopped dripping when returning from snorkeling while the ship was still in port. This was the first ship we’ve ever been on that did not have a clothesline in the shower, which even if you never do any laundry is always useful for the swimsuits. The shower did not have good places to tie a line across it either so the sort of clothesline with suction cups would have been the best for that ship.
The room was more spacious than a standard balcony cabin on some ships, having a bed area near the balcony and a couch and desk area between there and the door. As is standard on cruise ships, the beds could be set together as one or separated into two. All the photos were taken when we first got there before the steward switched it from one bed to two so they all show it as one. The couch turned into the third bed rather than having a bunk that pulls down from the ceiling. It had two closets, one with all hanging space and the other with shelves and a small hanging space. There were also drawers in the desk. Storage space was sufficient for two people, but with three we could have used a bit more. It would have been nice if there had been a second set of shelves on the other side of the bathroom mirror rather than just on one side. If the couch had built in drawers that would have really helped for more storage without taking up extra space in the room.
A wall mounted TV sat opposite the two beds. It was surrounded by a wooden framework, which was where our swimsuits tended to end up when they were not wet enough to be dripping or anything, but still too damp to put them away.
Other than the lack of storage the room was quite nice. It had outlets and USB charging ports by the desk and by one of the beds. We brought a few extras for the desk with an extender with 3 plug spaces so you get 3 for one, and a clock with 2 USB ports plugged into that so for the space of one wall plug we could plug in 3 things, and for the space of one of those 3 we had a clock plus 2 additional USB ports. Stuff like that comes in useful on cruises, especially on older ships where outlets are often scarce and USB ports may be non-existent. Even though this was a newer ship the extras were still useful since the USB ports in the bed area were in the space where you put a nightstand if the beds are together as one rather than separated into two as we had them so they weren’t convenient to use, and with 3 people there’s lots of stuff to plug in.
The bathroom had some counter space around the sink, and a shower, no tub. Only the suites have tubs on this ship. Which means the bathroom takes up a bit less of the cabin space so that’s fine. The only things we really would have changed given the option would have been to add a clothesline in the shower and 3 more shelves on the other side of the mirror.
As is usual in anything but the oldest cruise ships, the walls and doors were magnetic, which is useful if you bring magnets to keep your paperwork organized. Also if you happen to have magnetic hooks to stick to the wall and add a few more places to put things. I did not have any on that cruise, but have bought them since as they would have been very useful there.
This ship had a magnet rather than a paper sign for the door to let the steward know if you were out and about and the room was empty for cleaning or if you were in and not wanting to be bothered. I can’t remember exactly what it said, but something on the lines of sleeping off the fun and out enjoying the ship rather than do not disturb or please make-up room. Magnets are much better for this as they don’t fall off the door or get turned around accidently. I always wondered why they had paper signs for years instead of magnets until finally sailing on a ship that had them, which I think was the other time we sailed with Royal Caribbean.
Overall we liked the room. Everything was in good condition and with 3 of us in the room we definitely appreciated that it was more spacious than balcony cabins on some other ships.
I would want a balcony, even if the room wound up being a bit smaller. It definitely would give you more options to more fully enjoy the experience, as you noted.
In normal times I also really like the low deck oceanview cabins. Even though they have a window rather than a balcony I like the close to the water view and that it’s easy to avoid crowds there. Like after a show, you’re going down when everybody else is going up.
I love the magnet idea, that is really clever both to be able to hang things and also for the do not disturb / am out and about situations.
Magnets are definitely useful on cruise ships. I’ve always brought little ones to keep the paperwork organized and recently acquired some hooks that are supposed to hold 50 pounds. Apparently the shower is far more magnetic than the cabin walls because those hooks will hold up a clothesline full of wet clothing in the shower, but slide down the wall out in the cabin with things nowhere near the 50 pounds they are supposed to hold. As for the door signs, I’ve thought for years long before I ever sailed with Royal that magnets would make more sense than the paper ones that hang on doorknobs most cruise lines use for their clean the room/do not disturb signs, but so far Royal Caribbean is the only place where I’ve actually seen them use magnets for that.