A balcony room brings the really great outdoors to my dear wife Karen and I on Freedom of the Seas

If we were going to take the big ship Freedom of the Seas to St. Thomas and St. Martin, my dear wife Karen said, we were going to go for it big time.

She told our cruise buddy leaders JoAnn and Brenda to book us a balcony room when they were putting the gang together in June 2015.

Go to the bed and keep going.

Go to the bed and keep going.

The state rooms on these Royal Caribbean International ships, well, they are neither too roomer nor very stately. Not the ones in our price range, anyway. Maybe the ones the more well-heeled travelers book.

Our perch on the porch.

Our perch on the porch.

But as nice as the fifth deck rooms we very much enjoyed on this seven-night voyage, that extra space gained when you opened up the sliding glass doors and stepped onto the concrete balcony was glorious. (Five rooms side-by-side, we even opened up the adjoining side doors at one point to make one very wide balcony.)

Other times we used the space privately to savor the moments, morning and night, at sea and at dock. On this trip, it was 90º F every day, no matter the time, so it was warm out there, especially compared to the air-conditioned room. No matter to me, as I sat with coffee or stood with my iPhone 6.

Saying hello to the sun off our balcony.

Saying hello to the sun off our balcony.

And without the rails.

And without the rails.

The sunrise on Morning One made me go back inside and wake up Karen to enjoy Mother Nature’s show.

Perfect moment it was.

St. Thomas off our balcony.

St. Thomas off our balcony.

Freedom of the Seas took its time pulling away from St. Thomas. I proved it by taking this nighttime shot of the island lights off our balcony.

Our birds off the balcony.

Our birds off the balcony.

Our balcony, our birds.

Our balcony, our birds.

The birds seemed so close I could touch them. Of course, I always kept careful attention not to get too careless near the rail, not with all the stories of poor folks plunging into the sea …

St. Marteen coming up.

St. Marteen coming up.

Pulling into and out of port was a treat with our balcony, too.

St. Maarten, to be secured.

St. Maarten, to be secured.

This trip was taken in the middle of September. We did not encounter any hurricanes. Our hearts go out to this battling the fierce effects of Hurricane Matthew.

Would you rather open the side doors for a bigger balcony to enjoy with the neighbors or keep them closed and locked for privacy? Would you spend more time out in the heat or inside in the air-conditioning? Which is your favorite photo, and why?

Tomorrow: The Arcadia Theater

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