Brands operating in this area are using innovation to attract travellers to their river cruise ships, which are severely limited in size because of the rivers they navigate. The ships cruising Europe have a relatively small height, but they can be over 130m in length. This allows for a handful of hundred passengers per sailing.

River cruise companies are trying to figure out how to include a balcony in their stateroom designs as part of this innovation. Some prefer to expand the size of their staterooms, others choose an external verandah, or a small sitting area at the water’s edge. We have a look at all the styles offered by the top brands that are popular among Aussies.


APT used a twin balcony concept in its design for its river cruise ships in Europe. This was mainly facilitated by the Concerto Class’s 135 metre length. The size of the locks that they pass often means that river ships can travel the longest distance in Europe.

The Twin Balconies are designed to accommodate guests who want both a traditional balcony as well as a panoramic, stand-up view area. They include a pair outdoor chairs so that guests can sit back and take in the surrounding landscapes. They allow guests to take in the view from both the indoor and outdoor perspectives without having to lose the whole room to a balcony. This allows guests to still view the ship from the side, even in poor weather. They can also close the sliding windows to keep out the rain.


This feature is very similar to the one you will find on Scenic’s river cruise ship. The lounge room can hold a table and four chairs. It is separated from the rest by a track with glass panels that allow you to slide the doors over.

The button inside the sun room allows guests to slide a glass window up or down to create their own balcony. The room looks like a traditional balcony when it is completely down. However, the sun lounge layout shows the room up. This allows for the space to be transformed into a comfortable sitting area that is protected from the elements during cold, windy or wet days.

Avalon Waterways

A central feature of Avalon’s Panorama Suite design, which is now classified as a ‘Suite Ship’ by 12 of its 16 riverships, is the elimination of a separate balcony. Sort of. Although it may appear that this is true, Avalon actually designed the entire suite as a balcony. Larger sliding doors can be opened so guests can still be in the room but also stand at the ship’s edge.

Avalon was able to create larger rooms than others and has placed the bed so that guests can see the surrounding landscapes from their bed. The balustrade has a sitting area that can be used as a bedroom, sitting area or balcony. Two decks of Panorama Suites are available on each Avalon “Suite Ship”.

There are 70 vessels currently in the Viking river fleet. Most of them fall under the Longship design, which was launched in 2012. This suite has two rooms. The balcony extends off the living room side by side. It is accessed via sliding glass doors. A second French balcony is accessible from the bedroom. This balcony is not actually a balcony but a sliding door with railing on the opposite side. Many staterooms have a French balcony. Some of the more expensive categories offer both.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Uniworld’s elegant riverships offer many different balcony designs depending on which ship you choose and what room category you book. The fleet’s decor is up to date as of 2009 with many new ships joining the fleet. Beatrice Tollman, the matriarch of the line, has personally overseen each ship’s interior.

The line’s older vessels have traditional verandahs with railings, sitting areas with tables and sitting areas. Suites and higher rooms offer an open-air balcony with the option of sliding a glass window to the side.