Matters of etiquette have arisen before in this blog, as well as the subject of balcony staterooms being worth the cash.

When it comes to the latter, in my book they are worth forking out for particularly if you are cruising in a hot climate, a scenic area or you have lots of sea days to wile away. They are your own private outdoor haven, a place to get outside to enjoy the fresh air, the smell of the salt water and drink in the vistas while being away from the crowds.

There are, however, some issues with balconies – and how some people use them. On an NCL cruise in Hawaii some years ago, we had a balcony stateroom…..and a neighbour who enjoyed talking loudly on a cell phone to a different person every morning. “Right on Chuck we’re in Maui today….weather’s great….yeah going shopping later gotta get those sunnies from Maui Jim’s….” It was like receiving an unwanted weather report almost on cue around 8am daily.

Loud speakers are just one annoyance. On another cruise we had a smoker next door, who’s cigarette butts would frequently arrive on our balcony, fortunately stubbed out rather than lit. And then there was the time I stupidly left my swimmers out on a chair to dry, only to find the bottom half had blown into the ocean in the night….

But the benefits of a balcony far outweigh the drawbacks; the key is knowing what’s cool, and what’s not cool, to do on them. Dining privately al fresco is just one benefit; it put a new twist on room service, or if you are cruising with Princess there’s the lobster-and-champers feast that is Ultimate Balcony dining. Of course it comes at a price, but what’s not to love about dining not just by the ocean, but as the ocean passes you by?

Drinking is another, whether it’s your morning latte, a pre-dinner cocktail or a nightcap….I can recall standing on our own balcony on Regent’s Seven Seas Voyager several years back, docked at Circular Quay and drinking Moet….it was a sublime night, the type of thing unique memories are made of.

The only thing which can spoil the moment is if someone takes the merriment too far….boozy guests on a balcony talking at the tops of their voices is no fun when you are trying to get your shut-eye ahead of a long shore excursion.

Sail-ins and outs can also be very special, with your own private view which you can enjoy wearing a bathrobe if you so desire. The same goes for those endless sunrises and sunsets, star gazing at night, and the mesmerising solitude of watching the ship’s wake. We have many photographs of many wakes on many oceans and just love it.

If you’re a smoker, well many ships are now restricting stateroom puffing to balconies only. If you enjoy a cigarette, having your own balcony saves the need for heading to those designated spaces up on deck. But there is an important a fire risk to consider all the same. The last thing you want is someone stubbing a ciggie out on the wooden floor or, worse, flicking it lit over the balcony railings. That’s how fires start and people can get killed.

Finally, and it has to mentioned here, there’s sex. There’s plenty of stories about couples getting intimate on balconies, getting engaged, or conceiving a child….swept away by the fresh air and the romance of being on the high seas. If it does happen at all, and it probably does, I am sure it wouldn’t be that often. After all, if your neighbours can hear the clink of your champagne glasses or you talking on your mobile, they’re bound to hear all those grunts and groans too so beware! Happy Cruising!