I just booked my first cruise - to Alaska on the Pearl in late August of 2007. A few of our family is going, and we have four rooms among us.
I decided to get a balcony room. I've never been on a cruise before and may not get another chance, so I thought I wanted to "do it right" so to speak. Of course, because I am so excited about this I have been pounding the NCL website seeing the ship, rooms, ports, etc.
I noticed in my bumping around the website that my balcony may be different than others. I am in a BD class balcony room. It is on Deck 8 forward. I was looking at the photo of the ship from the outside, and it looks like all of the balconies on Deck 8 are different than those on Decks 9 and 10 and more in the middle. I've never been on a cruise ship - heck I've never even SEEN a cruise ship - so I'm not sure what to make of what I see in the picture.
From the outside of the ship, the balconies on Decks 9 and 10 (above the lifeboats) look like what I consider classic balcony layout - a row of square balconies with a straight wall on either end that goes straight out to the rail and the floor of the balcony above as a "roof".
But the ones on Deck 8 forward from the lifeboats almost look like they are cut out from the side of the ship. The edge of one cutout looks like it is kind of far from the edge of the adjacent cutout - like there is a lot of space between the balconies, which can't be right - and has rounded corners. I am thinking that there is some kind of edging or rim around the outide part of the balcony? I don't think I'm describing this very well.
Does anyone know what I am trying to describe, and if so does this kind of balcony have any advantages or disadvantages from the other (more classic) type? More sheltered? More private?
I have a mental image (that will see me through the winter and into next August!) of myself sitting on my balcony watching the Alaskan shoreline go by. I think I want to be able to see it all from a chair, and not have to get up and stand at the rail to get a full view. If there is some kind of window-like cutout at the edge of the balcony, will it narrow the view? Are the regular balconies more wide-open? (Since there are 7 of us going and I have the only balcony, I suspect I will be popular and have lots of company. haha. I don't want to have people need to "take turns" at the rail any more than necessary.)
My sister made all arrangements through a TA and I can easily switch to one of the regular-looking balconies on the two higher decks. No problem spending the money doing it (sigh - in for a dime, in for a dollar, right?) But I want to get it right and only want to change it once.
I'm also considering a switch to the port side, while I'm at it.
Thanks in advance for any feedback as to whether there are any pluses or minuses to one balcony type over another, or if there is actually a difference at all.
PS - NCL.com uses the same interior photo of all regular (non-suite) balcony rooms regardless of class or location, so I can't tell from that. I am only squinting at the tiny images of balconies and windows on an exterior photo.