This post covers a topic, or set of linked topics, that I’ve seen raised on the Cruise Critic P&O forum a number of times. They relate to both Ventura and Azura. They are:
- Which balconies are ‘overlooked’ and which are open from above;
- How big balconies on different decks are; and
- What are the issues regarding stern balconies.
Let’s take them in order. I’ve prepared some images, and you might find it useful to open the large version of an image while reading the comments on this page.
Point 1: Which balconies are exposed and which are shaded/hidden. Looking at the image, you can see that the balconies on Riviera deck are both hidden and shaded. This is because the Lido deck is significantly wider than the decks below it, so this forms an overhang over the Riviera deck balconies. Then the balconies on decks A & B are directly beneath the Riviera balconies, which means that someone on a higher deck has to really peer over their own balcony to see the balconies on A & B decks. However, the shading effect of the Lido deck overhang is lessened as you go lower, so A & B deck balconies are less shaded than Riviera deck. But there will be some shade, most of the time (though see ‘Update‘ below). Turning to C deck, these balconies are a mixture: they are part shaded by the balcony above, and part exposed from above. They are therefore much more visible from above, and provide less shade. In recompense, of course, they are much bigger – see the next main point. D deck balconies seem to me to have the worst of all worlds: they are fully exposed from above and have no shade at all. Finally E deck balconies (the few that there are) are the reverse of D deck: they are fully covered and shaded by the identically-sized D deck balconies above them.
(Update April 2014: I’ve realised that there is an exception to the point about the shade from the Lido deck overhang. Cabins on Riviera, A & B decks forward of (approximately) R317, R318, A317, A318, B318 & B319 are *not* directly overhung by the Lido deck. If you look at the full image of Azura below you can see where the Lido deck overhang suddenly ends, and cabins beyond that point have no overhang above them. In fact they’re beneath a group of balcony cabins that I haven’t mentioned, those on the Lido deck (prefixed ‘L’). These cabins have the same size balconies as those on Riviera, A & B decks, and do not overhang the decks below. I’m not sure if there’s a small overhang from the Sun deck above them.)
Point 2: How big the balconies are. Balconies on Riviera, A & B decks are all the same size: about 1.5 metres from the cabin door to the rail. (Call it just under 5 feet in old money….) Allowing for the depth of a chair, this isn’t quite long enough for an adult to sit with their legs out, so you normally see chairs on these balconies angled to give more room. Balconies on C deck, however, are just about twice the size – 2.95 metres from the cabin door to the rail. This is an excellent size, as the picture of Val on a C deck balcony shows. D & E deck balconies seem to be an intermediate length – say, about 2.25 metres.
You can get a feel for these lengths by looking at the image of Ventura’s balconies in this section. Look especially at the partitions between the balconies: you can see that the Riviera, A & B deck partitions consist of two short panels; the partitions on C deck consist of one short panel and two longer ones; and finally the partitions on D and E deck balconies consist of two panels, one short and the other longer.
Point 3: Finally, there’s the stern cabins to consider. The important thing here is that there are four stanchions running from A deck to E deck which run through various balconies. If you look at the image of Azura’s stern you can see where I’ve marked (X & Y) the top and bottom positions of two biggest stanchions, on both port and starboard sides. I’ve also marked the cabin numbers – these apply for Ventura as well as Azura – and I hope you can see the different distribution of cabins across the different decks. A deck, for example, has just four cabins, all suites, while B deck has ten cabins, all of them standard balcony cabins. If you look carefully at the image you can also see where the balcony dividers are.
The two major stanchions affect the following balconies: B750; B751; C750; C751; D736; D737; E732; E733. Of these the most important are the two on B deck, because these are only normal balcony cabins. In the case of these two cabins (B750 and B751), the stanchion occupies a significant part of the balcony and must greatly reduce the amount of space left for sitting. In effect, I think that it almost separates these two balconies into two parts, and it would be difficult for two people to be out on the balcony and enjoy a conversation – the stanchion will come between them, or will be in the way. On the other decks the same stanchions run through the balconies of suites, so while it’s no smaller on those decks than on B deck, at least the balconies for those suites are wider and thus the stanchion can be avoided.
The other stanchions run vertically through cabins A752; A749; B752; B753; C750; C751; D734; D735; E734; E735. Again they must be an intrusion but at least they seem to be off on one side of the balcony, so perhaps they’re easier to navigate around. However, note that some of the suites – A752; A749; C750; C751 – have both stanchions running through their balconies!
Update: a poster on Cruise Critic pointed me to the following page on the P&O website which gives access to pictures of many, if not all, of the ‘obstructed view’ cabins on P&O ships. It’s a good resource. It’s not entirely consistent – for example, the page for Ventura doesn’t include the A, B or C deck aft balcony cabins as listed above but the page for Azura does – but it’s very helpful nonetheless.
Update 2: I read on Cruise Critic a comment to the effect that the E deck aft cabins are immediately above the entertainment lounges (Havana on Ventura, Manhattan on Azura) which can be open late. There is therefore a possibility of noise. The port side cabins – E732, E734 – are the most likely to be affected as there is a loudspeaker station immediately below them in the relevant lounge.
Update 3: I have received (Dec 2013) an email from Phil Brown which included three pictures of the balcony of cabin D734. Phil wrote: “I was in D734 on Azura over the summer (at the stern) and absolutely loved it. The balcony is huge (deep) and the obstruction hardly gets in the way. I thought you might like the attached photos to highlight the size (on the exterior shot, the balcony with the Jack Daniels and Coke is mine!).”
The image of Azura’s stern was taken by Andrew Sassoli-Walker, and has his copyright – I’ve used it with his permission (thank you, Andrew). Here’s the full photo, which is again copyright Andrew Sassoli-Walker.