Explained: Differences Between a Suite and Balcony Cabin on a Cruise

If you’re shopping for a cruise, then you’re no doubt running into enough options to make your head spin. Modern cruise ships have seemingly endless room combinations, but they actually fall into one of four main categories: interior, oceanview, balcony, and a suite.

Suite on Celebrity Ascent
Suite cabins provide the highest-end experience on the ship, with more space, more amenities, and more access across the ship. Of course, it also comes with a higher price tag as well.

It’s not too difficult to figure out the differences between an interior room or a balcony cabin. Where there can be confusion, however, is between the balcony room and a suite. Both lend themselves to being the nicer rooms on the ship and offer outdoor balcony space to passengers.

So what exactly are the differences between staying in a suite and a balcony room? In fact, it can be quite significant. To give you an idea, we compare the two below.

Be Ready for Tons of Suite Variance

The first thing you should know is that suite cabins can vary widely. Some are essentially balcony cabins with a little more space. Others can be extravagant, high-end staterooms that look more like a penthouse apartment in a fancy hotel than a cruise cabin.

When you are shopping for a suite or balcony stateroom, you want to keep this in mind. While most balcony rooms are the same or very similar, suites will have a large amount of variance in what they offer and what they cost. 

Biggest Draw: Suites Offer More Space

From living spaces to bedrooms and even bathrooms, suites offer more space than a balcony cabin. However, the size of suites will vary widely from massive spaces to some that are just slightly larger than a typical room.

If there is one distinction that makes a suite cabin special, it’s that you will always have more space than with a traditional balcony room. How much more space depends on the suite that you purchase.

Typical balcony cabins are in the 160-200 square foot range and then add an additional 50 square feet for the outdoor space. That’s not much space, but it’s more than enough for two people to be comfortable. With a third or fourth person (such as kids), it can definitely feel cramped.

Suites, however, start there and go higher. The range can be wide. For instance, a junior suite might have, say, 300 square feet while the biggest suite on the entire ship (definitely depending on the ship) can measure into the thousands of square feet.

Whenever you’re shopping, you’ll see the square footage listed for the stateroom to help you find the one for you. 

More Amenities Come With Suites Compared to Balcony Rooms

When you book a suite, you’re usually not just getting a room that’s a little larger or a little nicer. Typically, there are more benefits to being a suite guest.

The perks will vary by room and cruise line. Book the highest-end suite and you can expect everything up to your own butler that can cater to your every whim. Other rooms may have amenities like included wi-fi and/or drink packages. Priority boarding is a common perk, as is priority reservations for restaurants. Your room also usually comes with smaller perks not seen in normal cabins like bathrobes and nicer beds.

In other words, there’s more to the suite experience compared to other staterooms on the ship. Before booking you’ll want to see what amenities are included with a suite and be sure to add these in when comparing prices versus a normal room.

Access to Special Areas for Suite Passengers

The Retreat on Celebrity Cruises
Newer ships have dedicated spaces for suite passengers such as The Retreat on Celebrity. These spaces offer sundecks, pools, and hot tubs only for use by passengers staying in suite cabins.

If you plan to book a suite, then we recommend doing it on a newer ship, no matter the cruise line. Not only will the newest ships offer the latest and greatest in the room style and special touches, but there is a trend across lines to add special suite-only areas for passengers. This is a major perk for staying in a suite that you’ll want to factor in.

These dedicated areas go by different names, such as The Retreat on Celebrity Cruises. They are dedicated areas reserved for access only by those staying in suites. They often include a sundeck and dedicated pool/bar area (or hot tubs) that see much smaller crowds than what you find elsewhere on the ship.

Some ships also have indoor lounge spaces for suite guests that serve complimentary snacks and drinks during the day. This trend of having dedicated spaces is newer, so older ships may not have these sorts of offerings.

What to Know About Room Locations

If there is a drawback with a suite (other than cost, which we cover below), it’s that the locations around the ship are limited.

First, suite staterooms are far fewer in number. As a result, there are far fewer options for where you’ll stay if you select this room type. Like to stay on lower decks or at one end of the ship or another? It’s likely you’ll have to compromise on location.

Typically the suites are grouped together and usually higher up on the ship, which in general is considered to be more desirable. If you like to be in the center of everything, however, that’s not usually the case with these rooms.

Costs Are Significantly Higher on Suites

Oceanview suite
Views like this are stunning, but they also come with a hefty price. For many, it makes more sense just to save money on the cabin and go with a balcony.

Of course, all those nice perks, larger rooms, and private areas aren’t free. And perhaps there is no bigger difference between suites and balcony cabins than what you’ll pay. As you’d expect, you will pay plenty more for a suite, but how much more will depend on a number of factors, including the specific room you choose.

For example, we priced one Carnival cruise aboard Carnival Celebration in August 2025 with a starting per person price of $1,039 per person for a balcony cabin but $1,789 per person for a suite. The highest-end suite on the ship was $3,689 per person.

A cruise aboard Celebrity Beyond in August 2025 that we priced showed a per person cost of $999 per person for a balcony cabin (known as a “veranda” on Celebrity). The cost of a suite ranged from $4,168 per person to $19,568 per person, depending on the room.

If you have the budget, there’s no doubt that the experience of a suite can take your cruise to another level. However, the considerably higher cost means it’s not going to be for everyone.

More on Cruise Cabin Selection:

Popular: 39 Useful Things to Pack (17 You Wouldn't Think Of)

Read Next: Park & Cruise Hotels for Every Port in America

Popular: 107 Best Cruise Tips, Secrets, Tricks, and Freebies


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here