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I take a lot of cruises to the Caribbean — and there's one upgrade I pay extra for on every single trip

Woman on cruise balcony
The author (not pictured) is a huge fan of a cruise room with a balcony. Cavan Images/Getty Images
  • I take a lot of cruises in the Caribbean, and I swear by having a room with an ocean-view balcony.

  • In fact, I only book cruises if I could have a room with an ocean-view balcony.

  • The views are amazing and it's a great escape from the crowds for a few hundred extra bucks.

When I was a young adult, I had the opportunity to sail to the Caribbean with friends on a last-minute three-night cruise.

We scored an ocean-view stateroom, which meant we got a small circular window where we could (sort of) see some of the water.

I enjoyed the cruise but vowed not to set sail again until I could book a room with a balcony. Years later, I now exclusively cruise in cabins with ocean-view balconies.

Prices can really vary by ship and time of year, but travelers can usually expect to pay an extra few hundred dollars for a balcony room versus an interior room.

You'll definitely save money on your cruise fare if you don't mind a windowless space in an interior stateroom or an ocean-view window you probably can't open.

But the perks of the ocean-view balcony justify the added cost to my vacation, and having one enhances my cruise experience every time.

Here's why I swear by this basic upgrade — and why you might start doing the same.

A balcony helps me feel less claustrophobic, and it's a great bonus space

People on cruise ship balconies
A balcony is a quick way to get fresh air. Horacio Villalobos/Getty Images

If you're like me and kind find yourself feeling a bit trapped or claustrophobic in a room in the middle of the sea, a cabin with a balcony may be your best option.

I love having access to an extension to the outside world without having to leave my private room. It's also a bonus space that benefits everyone in the cabin.

When I need a breather or am trying to stay out of the way while the rest of my group takes turns getting ready in our small cabin, I head to the balcony.

It's an alternative place to hang out at night or an ideal spot to have a cup of coffee when your favorite spot on board is taken.

After all, I never need to worry about my balcony being crowded or closed for cleaning.

There's also no experience as peaceful as sitting on a private balcony during a cruise

St. Kitts View from Balcony Harmony of the Seas
Of course, ocean-view balcony rooms also come with incredible views.Kristeen Cherney

When sailing through the Caribbean, those of us with balconies are treated to views of the major named islands and ports of call, as well as small islands scattered throughout the route.

Aside from the visuals, I find sitting out on the balcony to be a relaxing sensory experience — even if it's just for a few minutes at a time throughout the day and night.

When we're closer to shore, I might spot seagulls or an occasional dolphin or sea turtle. I can taste the salt in the air and feel the warm breeze against my skin.

Sure, you could see islands and feel the wind in your hair on the upper decks of the ship, but you avoid the loud crowds in your own private space.

For me, a few hundred bucks is worth the nonstop access to peace.

Read the original article on Business Insider