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Windows and Balconies

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Home >> Windows and Balconies

Over the last few years, there was quite a large shift in river cruising. Especially if you have a look at the ships, the modern ships built over the last decade have not much to do with the older river cruise ship veterans. Much more glass at the fascade, open areas and space. While most people do have a pretty good idead what the difference is between a window and a balcony. But can you name the difference between a twin balcony and a combined balcony?

This spring I was not only quite busy guiding a lot of tours at Nuremberg, but took advantage of my new smartphone's camera. Well, enough said, lets go through the terminology of river cruise advertisements.

Porthole / Window

A regular window, usually still found on the lowest deck. Some (older) ships have them on the second and third deck as well.

Picture: Viking Danube (1999)

The size of the windows may vary, depending on the deck you'll book.

Picture: River Aria (2001)

French Balcony

Don't get confused by the name: This is not a real balcony, where you can sit outside. A french balcony is a ceiling to floor (sometimes named wall to wall) sliding window to open. And keep in mind, that you can just slide 33% (1 of 3 segments), 50% (1 of 2 segments) or 66% (2 of 3 segments) of the total length of you cabin open.

Picture: Avalon Luminary (2010)


This is what you expect it to be. An outside balcony where you can sit and relax while cruising the rivers of Europe.

Picture: Scenic Ruby (2009)

Twin Balcony

A combination of a french balcony with a real balcony. You can either sit outside or just open the sliding door. So you are more flexible with this cabin type. And it provides more space than a real balcony in your cabin. Mainly AMA Waterways (and APTouring) uses that on the new cruise ships, have seen it myself on the AmaCerto and AmaVerde.

Picture: AmaCerto (2012)

Combined Balcony

Another option to combine a french balcony with a real balcony besides putting them next to each other: The real balcony is behind a french balcony window (which slides vertically instead of horizontally). So even when you have bad weather, you can just relax on your balcony and watch the landscape. So far the only ship I have seen that has this type of balconies is Scenic's brand new Crystal. Update: For 2013 Scenic refurbished all of its spaceships with these Combined Balconies.

Picture: Scenic Crystal (2012)

Combinations of different balcony types on river cruise ships

Usually the ship offers several mixed types of windows. The next ship offers balconies on the top floor, below regular portholes / windows.

Picture: River Aria (2001)

Here we have french balconies on the 3rd floor and windows below. Please notice that on the 3rd floor the second segment to the left is actually no french balcony but just a floor to ceiling window.

Picture: River Duchess (2003)

The Viking longships mix all different types: The suites on the top deck do have a french balcony AND a real balcony. The second deck below has only french balconies.

Picture: Viking Odin (2012)


Below is a picture of the Conde Nast Readers Choice, Uniworlds River Queen. For the record: The ship that river cruisers voted to be 'the best' in CN's survery in 2012 does lack all of the fancy new ideas, but has good old fashioned large floor to ceiling windows (top deck) and regular sized port holes (lower decks). So don't overestimate the whole balcony thing - most people prefer to stay in the public area except for the night.

Picture: River Queen (1999)