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8 Reasons To Cruise In An Aft Facing Balcony Cabin

Aft cabins on the Discovery Princess cruise ship

Choosing the right cruise ship stateroom can be difficult. Guests may need one with slight motion, a quiet location, or one that can accommodate three or four. Some regular cruisers prefer an aft cabin for their calming views and larger balconies.

Aft-facing cabins aren’t much different from standard balcony cabins. However, your cruise line may have a limited supply of them. You know how the saying goes, “Location, Location, Location,” and the aft balcony cabins have just that.

If you want an aft balcony room, you’ll need to book early as this prime spot sells out fast.

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Looking for an aft stateroom on your next cruise? Find it on Cruise Direct. It features cruise deals in various destinations.

What Is An Aft Cruise Ship Cabin?

Aft staterooms are located at the very back of the ship. They’re a favorite amongst many loyal cruisers, who enjoy the scenic wake views and the soothing sound of the ocean churning out from behind the vessel.

If you’re undecided, here are some reasons to cruise at the rear of the ship.

1. An Aft Location Offers Larger Balconies

If you’re cruising to Alaska or other scenic destinations, nothing beats having a balcony to enjoy the scenery. Standard balcony rooms are very narrow and usually just wide enough to accommodate two deck chairs and a table.

However, staterooms at the back can have deeper balconies, which are two to three times larger. In addition to deck chairs, some cruise lines provide loungers. My aft cabin on the Crown Princess cruise ship, had a deck three times the size of a standard balcony.

My stateroom on the Crown Princess

Some lines call them sunset veranda staterooms as they are ideal for watching the sun go down. These staterooms are suitable for families or groups sailing together because of the extra outdoor space. 

The most expensive suites are found at the aft on some vessels, and these command top dollar. On the Royal Caribbean Quantum-class vessels, these aft suites span two decks.

Should you sail in a stateroom on the corner, you’ll enjoy a huge balcony that wraps around the side of the ship. On the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class vessels, the aft staterooms have wrap-around balconies overlooking the Aquatheater.

2. Guests Enjoy Wake Views

There’s something to be said about those incredible views. From early morning to late evening, the views of the ship’s wake are very calming and quite hypnotic. 

Aft cabins on the Royal Princess and Celebrity Eclipse
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I enjoyed my oversized balcony on the Crown, which was sheltered from the wind. It also offered near-perfect vistas, so why not enjoy a balcony breakfast or dinner outside? 

An aft balcony provides the perfect locale to read, away from the bustling Lido deck. With the soothing sound of the wake splashing behind the ship, you might even fall asleep.

When leaving a port, you’ll also enjoy the best views to say goodbye while forging onto the next port of call.

Suites on Royal Caribbean Quantum-class vessels have floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows that span two decks. You can enjoy the wake from the sitting area and queen-size bed on the top floor. I had the opportunity to view one on the Spectrum of the Seas during my Asia cruise.

Spectrum of the Seas Grand Loft Suite
Spectrum of the Seas Grand Loft Suite

The largest suites on certain lines may even have hot tubs, but come at a significant higher price.

3. It’s Usually Quieter At The Aft

Having a stateroom at the end of the ship means you’ll encounter less foot traffic in the hallway. With few people walking by, aft cabins tend to be quieter. I only heard the engine when they first started it but once we sailed away, it was quiet.

If you’re a light sleeper, a location at either end of a vessel may provide you with a peaceful night’s sleep.

Aft staterooms on higher decks will generally be under the spa. Since the ship’s spa isn’t open late, guests shouldn’t expect any noise from the spa area.

However, if you select an aft stateroom closer to the water line, you may encounter engine vibration. Use a white noise machine or app to counter the noise.

4. They Experience Less Wind

Celebrity Millennium Penthouse entertainment sized deck
Large aft corner balcony

Guests at the ship’s aft enjoy outdoor space sheltered from the wind. In warmer destinations like the Caribbean or Mexico, it’s a great place to lay in the sun. In colder destinations like Alaska, some passengers avoid booking a balcony cabin because they think they won’t use it.

However, you’ll value that outside space when choosing a stateroom for an Alaska cruise. When cruise ships sail in fjords or cruise by glaciers, guests crowd the decks to watch the glaciers calve and hear the thundering sounds of the ice breaking.

Your large balcony may have a partial covering, providing shelter from the cold. Here, you’ll create your favorite moments and a front-row seat to the scenery.

Your balcony won’t be locked off, in contrast to forward cabins which guest can’t access in high winds.

Suite aft balcony on the Crown Princess
Suite aft balcony on the Crown Princess

5. Aft Cabins Are Closer To Certain Venues

Cruise lines tend to put their spas and main dining rooms at the vessel aft. While the dining rooms usually cover two lower decks, guests can find the spa on a higher floor. By choosing an aft stateroom, you’ll be closer to these venues.

While you may not visit the spa, passengers need to eat. Being a few floors up from the dining room means it’s an easy walk to access it. I remember having the second cabin from a cruise ship’s bow (front). I felt I was walking a marathon to get to and from the dining room at mealtimes.

Check the deck plans or ask your travel agent for a suggested cabin with easy access to amenities.

6. They Get More Sun

With an extended balcony overlooking the ship’s wake, you’ll enjoy more sun. While that might not be a benefit in warm destinations, you’ll undoubtedly appreciate the sunny balcony in colder climates.

So, if you’re cruising to the Baltics, Iceland, Alaska, or crossing the Atlantic Ocean in the shoulder season, you might enjoy the extra rays of sunshine.

Tiered aft cabins on a cruise ship
Staterooms at the back get more sun

7. You Could Have A Front Row Seat To Entertainment

On Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, the aft staterooms have large wrap-around balconies. Since Central Park runs up the middle, there are fewer cabins to choose from, and they come with sticker shock. 

However, you’ll enjoy a front-row seat to the Aquatheater entertainment if you can afford an Aquatheater stateroom.

You can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the shows during your cruise. Also, you can watch them as much as your like without the hassle of finding a seat. With wake views, an oversized balcony, and constant entertainment, there’s no room for boredom in an Oasis-class aft cabin.

While standard veranda staterooms have 42 sq. feet of outdoor space, the Aquatheater outside space measures more than the average cabins. A one-bedroom Aquatheater cabin has a 355 sq. foot balcony, and the Aquatheater two-bedroom suite has almost 800 square feet of outdoor space.

8. The Best Suites Are At The Aft

Spectrum of the Seas Grand Loft Suite balcony
Spectrum of the Seas Grand Loft Suite balcony

Aft-facing cabins are considered premium locations. It’s no wonder cruise lines put their best suites at the aft. Royal Caribbean’s tops suites are a great choice.

They feature the largest square footage and come with a Royal Genie, who takes care of all your needs.

Celebrity Edge-class iconic suites provide almost 2,600 sq. feet of living space with fantastic views. Their large decks feature dining tables, full loungers and a private hot tub.

You’ll find the Norwegian’s largest suites on the back of the ship. The Premier Owner’s Suite has added privacy with wrap around balcony offering great views.

Reasons Not To Book An Aft Cabin

While the aft staterooms sound enticing, they aren’t a one size fits all. Some cruise passengers avoid the aft for specific reasons.

Since vessels pivot mid-ship, the bow and aft are prone to more motion. So, if you suffer from seasickness, you may want to pass on the aft cabin and choose something mid-ship instead. The upper decks will experience more motion than lower ones.

Aft balcony cabins
Aft balcony cabins

Being at the end of the ship means you’ll walk further to get to an elevator or another venue. Each time you walk to the theater at the other end, it may feel like you’re walking a marathon.

Some cruise ships have tiered afts. While this might make them more aerodynamic, decks that are tiered create a lack of privacy. So, check if that vessel has a sloping aft if you don’t want the people above looking down into your balcony,

If you choose an aft room on a lower deck, know that you’re above the engines. If you’re sensitive to noise, you may hear the engine or the vibrations of the propellers, which could result in a restless night.

To Aft Or Not To Aft?

As you can see, there are pros and cons to cruising in an aft cabin. Years ago, guests complained about soot or odors from the smokestacks. Today, newer ships run cleaner with less impact on the environment.

Some guests won’t sail in anything but an aft cabin. Others prefer different locations. Is the aft your favorite spot on the ship? Leave your comments below.

Aft cabins on the Royal Princess cruise ship