Those photos were taken with a Canon S-2 Powershot, gotten a few days before I left.
I have sailed both directions and each great. But going in late August as I mention, it is superior to head north rather than south as the Inside Passage has the worse potential for weather past the first week of Sept. also the great disadvantage of dusk by 7pm. It just works better going north.
I never get a balcony and my opinion only, if your funds do not allow you your tours with a balcony, then I would never consider it. The tours are half your trip and a necessary expense in Alaska travel. But I also spend all my time out on a front open deck- I want to see it all.
Extremely few people are willing to do this.