Sunday, February 25, 2018
News Roundup

Balcony cabins are the hot cruise item

The Titanic didn't have them. Neither did the snooty Queen Elizabeth 2 or the swinging TV "Love Boat" Pacific Princess.

But now many travelers refuse to cruise if they don't have a balcony cabin.

"The first couple times I cruised I had a porthole window, but the third time I went to the balcony room, and I never went back after that," says Peggy Earo of Cary, N.C., who on the Carnival Dream had a balcony cabin on Deck 2 not far above the ocean swells. "It's a sense of airiness. It's very calming and soothing. I like to see the storms and the waves, the sunrise and the sunset. "I would not come without the balcony. It's that important to me."

Earo is not alone.

And the cruise industry has taken notice.

Eighty percent of cabins on the new Regal Princess debuting in May will have balconies. Sleek new river-cruise lines are inventing ways to give guests true balconies instead of just a railing. And big cruise lines keep making their balcony (also called veranda) cabins ever more elaborate.

"I would never book an inside stateroom," says John Safranski of Livonia, Mich., who has taken 10 cruises. "It doesn't get much better than sipping champagne out on the balcony as we cruise into the sunset."

Balcony cabins cost about 25 percent more than inside cabins. But that is less of a price difference than a few years ago.

"Back in the day it could have been 75 percent to 100 percent more expensive to get a balcony, there were so few of them," says cruise analyst Stewart Chiron of Miami-based the Cruise Guy. These days, "it would be crazy to build a ship that doesn't have them. ... Without a doubt they are the most popular cabins on a cruise."

He says what is going away are "ocean-view" cabins — cabins that have window views of the water, but no way to sit outside.

And even inside cabins these days are being tricked out with "virtual balconies." The new Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas class of ships debuting in November will have soothing video of the ocean broadcast on an interior wall, giving the feel of a balcony cabin if not the bracing reality.

Not that long ago, cruise-ship balcony cabins were for the few and the affluent, if ships offered them at all.

Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas was considered one of the first truly modern cruise ships in 1991. It offered balconies for 5 percent of its cabins, and that was a big deal. Ships built in the 2000s offered about 25 percent to 45 percent balcony cabins.

Now, all new ships offer balconies on more than 65 percent of rooms.

And the price differential is shrinking.

The Detroit Free Press looked at prices on seven cruise lines and ships for a typical seven-day Caribbean cruise in November. We found a price premium of 18 percent to 34 percent over an inside cabin — but deals to be had, such as an $849 balcony cabin price on the new Regal Princess, just $150 more than an interior cabin.

Frequent cruisers may even be able to get a better deal.

Comments
Sara Hall sets course record in women’s Gasparilla half-marathon

Sara Hall sets course record in women’s Gasparilla half-marathon

TAMPA — Stephanie Bruce returned Sunday to defend her title at the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic half-marathon. She ran a blistering pace, shaving 50 seconds off her time from last year to finish well under the course record.Still, it was ...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Elkanah Kibet wins the men’s Gasparilla half-marathon

Elkanah Kibet wins the men’s Gasparilla half-marathon

TAMPA — Only a few feet separated Elkanah Kibet and Parker Stinson as they headed down the homestretch in Sunday's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic half-marathon.Kibet made his move at the right time, surging ahead and holding off the hard-ch...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputies: Plant City man stabbed to death during argument Saturday

Deputies: Plant City man stabbed to death during argument Saturday

PLANT CITY — A man died Saturday night after he was stabbed inside his home by a neighbor, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Moses Wilson, 49, got into an argument with James Michael Meeks, 23, both of whom live at 4308 James L. R...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Caller told FBI Florida shooting suspect ‘going to explode’

Caller told FBI Florida shooting suspect ‘going to explode’

WASHINGTON — A woman close to the man charged with killing 17 people at a Florida high school warned the FBI in chilling detail that he had a growing collection of guns and a temper so uncontrollable she worried about him "getting into a school and j...
Updated: 3 hours ago
3 dead from severe weather in Arkansas, Kentucky

3 dead from severe weather in Arkansas, Kentucky

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Severe thunderstorms spawned suspected tornadoes and triggered widespread flooding that left at least three people dead in Kentucky and Arkansas. The system that stretched from Texas to the Canadian maritime provinces on Sunday ha...
Updated: 3 hours ago
‘Filled with rage’: How a scrawny misfit turned into Florida’s worst school shooter

‘Filled with rage’: How a scrawny misfit turned into Florida’s worst school shooter

He was chronically depressed, beguiled by firearms and violence, an oddball ostracized by peers and prone to angry outbursts.He experienced, in rapid succession, blows of the sort that can send a disturbed, isolated young man hurtling into a spiral o...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Police: Man, 60, arrested for fleeing from fatal Largo pedestrian crash

Police: Man, 60, arrested for fleeing from fatal Largo pedestrian crash

LARGO — A 60-year-old man who police said was the driver in a fatal pedestrian hit-and-run on East Bay Drive from three days prior was arrested by Largo Police on Saturday, the department said.Victor Bonavita was arrested on three charges in relation...
Published: 02/24/18
Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

TAMPA — Officials reopened roads near Citrus Park Mall Saturday evening that had been closed in the afternoon for a natural gas leak caused by a car crash, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said. The Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Fi...
Published: 02/24/18

boca ratonState lawmakerencourages Scott to remove sheriffA lawmaker is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In a letter sent to ...
Published: 02/24/18

Two airlinescut ties withNRA aftershootings

The National Rifle Association lashed out at corporations rushing to abandon it on Saturday, as companies from United Airlines to Best Western have cut ties with the gun lobby organization.Without context, twin announcements from Delta and United air...
Published: 02/24/18