It's a tough decision. I'm with Donna about this. Alaska for me a balcony cabin is a must. We spend a lot of time on the balcony watching the world go by, whether near the shore or not (there were times we were really close to shore). But it's fun to roam the upper decks and promenade too. Lots to see. We don't go for the casino or towel folding type activities however.
So if you want to do a bunch of on board activities you might not need a balcony, but if you want to enjoy the actual on the water time, go for the balcony. I'd rather spend the extra money for a week with a balcony than an expensive couple of hour tour no matter how nice the tour is.
To each is own right? Figure what you like to do and where the best bang for your buck is and you'll be fine. There's no right or wrong choice.