There’s no doubt that the river cruise industry is changing and evolving at a rapid pace. Innovations and new features crop up with every new ship that floats out on the water, as river cruise lines seek to outdo one another – and maybe even themselves.
One of the most popular new features to emerge in recent years is the addition of full-size, step-out balconies in shipboard staterooms. Traditionally, most river cruise ships have featured French balconies; full-size doors that open, but do not allow you to step out of your room as on a larger, oceangoing cruise ship.
Step-out balconies are desirable because they allow you to physically sit outside your stateroom. For deep-ocean cruisers looking to make the switch to river cruising, step-out balcony staterooms emulate that big ship feel on the waterways of Europe.
While not every river cruise ship features step-out balconies, there are many ships that feature both French and full balconies, sometimes including both within the same suite.
So who offers what? Here’s a look at the ships sailing Europe’s waterways that currently offer full step-out balconies:
Which is better? There’s really no right or wrong answer; it all depends on personal preference. Step-out balconies can provide an excellent way to relax outdoors in an area separate from your stateroom. For colder itineraries, we prefer French balcony staterooms for their warmth and indoor location that allows us to crack the window open without leaving the comfort of our suite.
But don’t discount other ships that feature only French balconies; many of these boast some stunning innovations including walls of windows that open to create a spacious, open-air stateroom like those found aboard Avalon Waterways’ Avalon Panorama.
In the heat of summer, however, it’s tough to beat the built-in relaxation that comes with enjoying a cool drink on your very own slice of balcony paradise.