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Norwegian Cruise Lines mini suite vs balcony room!

For the sea-dreaming voyagers, choosing the perfect floating escape is the first step of cruise planning, the second choice is the room. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), the master artists of sea-splendor, offer a variety of rooms to choose from for your adventure. But which to choose? Today we will discuss two tantalizing options—the Mini Suite (Club Balcony) and the Balcony Room. Today we unravel the siren’s call of Norwegian Cruise Line Ships accommodations. 

Set Sail for Splendor: What is a Mini Suite?

Standard Balcony view from the Epic at Jamaica
Standard Balcony view from the Epic at Jamaica

Before we unfurl the comparison, it's essential to demystify the wonder of this seafaring sanctuary. A NCL Mini Suite, true to its name, is a mid-range stateroom that casts a spell of elegance with extra square footage over the basic balcony rooms. Mischievously flirting between standard and premium suites, the Mini Suite tantalizes passengers with more space to stretch, special perks, and often, an added sprinkle of luxury in the form of private balconies. Norwegian Cruise Line also refers to these as Cub Balcony rooms, or club balcony suites.

The mini-suites stateroom name changed in 2020 to the Club Balcony, so you will still hear both versions mentioned from time to time. These rooms can hold up to 4 people, as the sofa folds out into a bed also.

My room number on the Epic
My room number on the Epic

Picture soft sea breezes that flow through spacious décor. A Mini Suite is your beacon, your cozy corner of the ship, the perfect blend of home comfort and nautical charm. It's more than a room—it’s a haven of elevated service and comfort. With a plush, king-size bed as your lighthouse, you can escape into the lavishness of your own personal sanctuary. Of course, the King can easily convert into 2 twin beds for travelers that need separate beds. Depending on the ship those 2 twins can be separated for a little bit of space in between the beds.

The Mini Suite unveils a palette of delights, perhaps more akin to a luxurious pied-à-terre than just a traditional room. Expect a bigger bathroom, some featuring a desirable bathtub and oversized waterfall shower, and vast storage for your maritime wardrobe. It’s the fine-cut glass of Champagne to your moments of repose—a little indulgence to set the sail of your vacation on a course for opulent pleasure.

Norwegian Cruise Line: Mini Suite vs Balcony Room

The time has come to stand the nautically inclined staterooms against each other in a daring duel of features and value. Comparing the NCL Club Balcony with the tried and tested Balcony Room. Which one will win in your book.

Club Balcony view on the Gem
Club Balcony view on the Gem.

When it comes to space, the Club Balcony has more square footage than the Balcony Room. This will come with a full-length sofa or sofa bed, giving it the edge for couples or pairs traveling together. Ultimately, the Mini Suite tugs at the heartstrings of those craving a little extra room to spread their vacation wings. You will notice more space between the couch and beds also, possibly a small table in between depending on which cruise ship you are traveling on. 

A larger bathroom with a bathtub and larger shower is nice for the club balcony suite, but the room is not that much larger than the balcony room's bathroom. Still being able to soak in a tub if you like is a wonderful thing if you have been out in the port walking all day making your feet and legs ache.

The extra closet space is also a benefit for this room type. You will have plenty of storage space with a couple side by side closets. You will be able to hang all your closets if you like plus there will be drawers. On one of the cruises, I have been on I noticed the TV was larger in the mini suite also. Some might notice a large balcony, but that is not the case in every comparison.

view from my balcony in Lisbon
view from my balcony in LIsbon.

In the enchanted world of cruise fare, the Mini Suite often takes the lead in terms of a higher cost. It’s important to weigh your penchant for extra space against the backdrop of your cruise priorities. If the grandeur of larger living quarters doesn’t hold the celestial pull, the Balcony Room may be the financial and functional sweet spot. The extra cost can be substantial depending on which cruise you book.

The perks of the Club Balcony Suite are more important to me than the size and closet space of the room. For example, if you are on a large ship where you should pre-book onboard entertainment, you are able to book 125 days before sailing. You will also receive 2 specialty restaurant dining experiences, 1 laundry service or pressing per sailing and a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine delivered to your stateroom. This is the biggest difference in my opinion between the 2 rooms.

When the Balcony Beckons

The Balcony staterooms, an established darling of the cruising scene, is like the old soul of the sea, drenched in romance and unfettered vistas. In a Balcony Room, you’re merely a glass door away from a private sighting of the world's endless amphitheater—the sea, the sky, and the sun. 

Standard Balcony room on the Epic
Standard Balcony room on the Epic.

The Balcony Room offers a front-row seat to the greatest show on earth—the ocean itself, with a direct line to its ceaseless drama. The allure of a glass-encased private escape cannot be overstated, where every sunrise and every midnight moon hold a serenade of their own for the beholder. The ever-changing views on your own private balcony are my favorite thing about the Standard Balconies or Club Balconies.

Standard Balcony Rooms, often priced more modestly, are ideal for cruisers who plan to spend most of their days touring onboard activities or ashore. They offer an indulgent taste of freedom and privacy without breaking the bank. It's the sanctum of seafaring minimalism, where every square foot, from bed to balcony, is meticulously woven into a tapestry of efficient design. The best choice for affordability will always be the balcony room. This type of room will still hold up to 4 people, even with a smaller square footage.

Each Ship is different.

Sunset from the Epic
Sunset from the Epic.

The NCL fleet of ships are all so different. From The Norwegian Bliss to the Norwegian Encore, you will notice differences to every club balcony or standard balcony cabin if you compare them between all the ships. The best way to help determine what you would like to stay in is watch YouTube videos or read forums on Cruise Critic. For example, the Balcony room on the Epic has an amazing amount of closet space, compared to the closet space of the balcony room on the Gem. But I did like the living space better on the Gem compared to the Epic. There was just more room to walk.

The NCL website is extremely helpful when looking at deck plans and trying to figure out which room you would like to stay in. If looking for cabins right beside each other because you are traveling with a large group, look for the connecting room icon on the deck plan. This will help you pick rooms that can connect from the inside. Deck plans are also great in helping you choose if you would like a room near an elevator or away from the elevator. Or a room above the theater or right below the pool deck. Every room will have a different amount of noise due to what's around them, this is something that can be figured out by looking at deck plans. NCL also offers Guaranteed Staterooms at the time of booking where they choose the room for you instead of you picking it. This might help to lower the price of the room, but also you might end up close to an elevator and hear more foot traffic than other rooms. I personally have never had an issue with noise, but it is something to consider.

View from my balcony pulling into Lisbon.
View from my balcony pulling into Lisbon.

Also, the handicap accessible rooms can be spotted on the deck plans, there will be more square footage because of the use of a wheelchair, but every ship is different in the style of room, storage space. The amount of. Handicap accessible rooms vary but are offered in both the standard balcony and club balcony levels, and they offer easy access for wheelchairs and electric scooters.

I have stayed on the Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Sky also, so I have plenty of experience with older Norwegian ships on the fleet, I am only lacking the Norwegian Pearl for that class of ship. Just remember that the NCL fleet also has many stateroom options. From an inside cabin, solo cabin for the solo travelers, ocean view cabins, to the Haven suites, there are so many cabin category options.

Below is a list of videos I have recorded from the Norwegian Gem and the Norwegian Epic, so you can get an idea of what balcony and club balcony differences are.

Making a Choice, Tailoring Memories

In the buoyant sea of cruising choices, and different cruise lines the decision between a Mini Suite (Club Balcony) vs Balcony Room, particularly aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship, is as much a reflection of your travel tastes as it is a breeze-filled coin-toss of luxury. It’s about understanding what makes your heart sway and your spirit sail. Will your narrative be framed by the stylish contours of a Mini Suite (Club Balcony), or colored by the open-air galleries of a Balcony Room?

Each chamber, tucked within the colossal white hulls of NCL, sings its own siren song. The Mini Suite is a waltz of spacious serenity, the Balcony Room an undulating jig of open-air jubilation, and the Club Balcony a waltz of curiously harmonic indulgence. You, the wandering seafarer, hold the pen to your own narrative. Choose wisely, but remember—no matter the choice, the sapphire vastness of the ocean awaits, ready to cradle your cruise with its timeless and effortless charm.

Hilton honors

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