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What Is An Aft Facing Balcony?

Modern cruise ships are magnificent engineering marvels which allow you to do the same (or more activities) as a family resort. You get to travel and see different places and experience the wonders these offer with the added benefit. But there is some terminology used with cruise ships that differs from a land-based resort, such as the concept of the “aft” of a ship. And, exactly what is an aft facing balcony?

Aft-facing balconies are at the back of the ship, looking out over the ocean that the vessel has traveled. The advantages of an aft-facing cabin are the views. They are generally bigger than the side-facing cabins, they provide more privacy, and there is less people-generated noise. 

What is an aft facing balcony | photo of rear view of Norwegian Gem

The different cabins and their locations on a cruise ship provide many variables that enable you to book the most suitable accommodation. Booking the best cabin, which your budget allows, is one of the most important decisions you can make when booking a cruise vacation. Keep reading to learn the advantages and disadvantages to an aft-facing cabin.

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What Is Aft View?

An aft-facing balcony faces towards the back (stern) of the ship, and it is also referred to as backward-facing balcony. Instead of seeing where the ship is sailing to, aft-facing balconies enjoy the wake of the journey. 

The Advantages Of Aft-Facing Cabins

There are several cabin positions to choose from, and depending on your needs and budget, each has its pro and cons. Backward-facing cabins have several benefits worth considering.

Aft-Facing Cabins Are Generally Larger

Because of how the vessels are designed, aft-facing balconies are generally more extensive than those found on the ship’s port (left) and starboard (right) side.

On several cruise ships, the balcony on an aft-facing cabin can be up to twice the size of the balconies positioned on the ship’s sides.

As they are more extensive, the cruise line installs more furniture on the balcony, including lounge chairs and dining tables. This can be a great bonus if you’re traveling with a group spread across multiple rooms.

Tiered Aft Decks on a Luxury Cruise Ship

Aft-Facing Cabins Have A Great View

Looking back over the wake created by the massive engines and propellors (screws) is a sight that never gets old.

There is very little more calming and relaxing the watching the turbulent water flowing out behind the ship, with nothing on the horizon, from behind the vessel.

It’s also a fantastic view when you leave the port watching your departure port reduce in size.

There is something quite magical sitting on the balcony with the smell of the sea, a breeze keeping the temperature under control, and the sight of the wake glistening in the moonlight.

Aft-Facing Cabins Have More Privacy

Being at the back of the ship, away from publicly accessible spaces, means that aft-facing cabins have more privacy.

There is also less chance of any cabins overlooking yours, which will give a greater sense of privacy.

Aft-facing cabins provide a sense of isolation, and you feel a little removed from the rest of the ship’s passengers. If you need the business of people around, then an aft-facing cabin may not be for you. 

Aft-Facing Cabins May Be Quieter

Because they face the back, they aren’t near elevators and other places where people gather or entertainment facilities at the rear of a vessel; the aft-facing cabins tend to be quieter.

You will probably be able to hear (more likely feel) the thrum of the engines, but it is not an intrusive sound, and the aft cabins are very high up relative to the ship’s engines which are in the lower parts of the hull. 

Many passengers feel the sound of the ship’s wake as a peaceful background noise which they can sit out with their coffee in the morning and take it all in, or late at night when the dark starry sky compliments the sound of the ocean.

There Is More Effective Shading

Although it depends entirely on the direction the ship is pointing and the latitude you are passing through, there will be a very effective shade if the sun is shining towards the ship’s bow.

However, if the situation is reversed, aft-facing cabins can become a sun trap.

The Disadvantages Of Aft-Facing Cabins

An aft-facing cabin has some disadvantages, which may be a critical factor in your choice depending on your circumstances.

Aft-Facing Cabins Can Be Hotter

As the aft-facing cabins are at the back of the ship, the air produced by the ship’s forward motion splits at the ship’s bow, blows down the side, and only re-joins further aft.

It creates a mini low-pressure zone, resulting in the cabins being hot and seemingly windless.

It is not common to all cruise ships.

Aft-Facing Cabins Experience More Machinery Noise

Being at the back of the ship means that the aft-facing cabin is over the screws (propellers).

While you are underway, this is not an issue; in fact, it is the screws that generate the magnificent wake we have been waxing lyrical about.

When the ship is departing or on arrival and maneuvering into its berthing position, you will probably hear the bow thrusters (smaller engines on the side for maneuvering sideways).

It is a little louder, but it is only for a short while.

Aft-Facing Cabins Are Affected By The Sea’s Motion

Both aft and forward-facing cabins will experience more movement when the sea is rough. People prone to motion sickness will likely not do well in an aft balcony.

If seasickness patches are a permanent cruising accessory, or you haven’t sailed before, consider booking a cabin close to the ship’s center. The ship movements are less noticeable in the middle.

Aft-Facing Cabins Experience More Vibration

Being over the engines and screws does cause vibration, and depending on the ship, you can feel this more in the aft-facing cabins than elsewhere on the vessel.

Aft facing cabins are further away from high passenger traffic areas and therefore are quieter in terms of people and entertainment area noise.

However, the screws are directly below you, and they have to churn vast volumes of water to make the ship move, which produces a sound. It is not an intrusive noise, and some passengers describe it as calming white sound.

What is an aft facing balcony | photo of Aft facing balconies

Aft-Facing Cabins Involve More Walking

Aft-facing cabins are always at the end of a passageway, further away from amenities and the elevators, situated towards the middle of the ship in most ships. For the newer mega-ships, you will be facing a very long hike to your room every day – multiple times a day.

If mobility is an issue for you, carefully consider this fact.

Choose The Aft-Facing Cabin With The Least Obstructed View

Although the potentially panoramic view from an aft-facing cabin is one of the most expansive on the ship, some cabins may have a pole or equipment that could slightly obstruct the view.

When booking, check that this is not a factor with the cabin you select.


If you like the larger space, sense of isolation, and the magnificent views of the ship’s wake, which an aft-facing cabin provides, this is a great choice.

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