6 Ways to Get Your Cabin Upgraded

Booking

I have been on a lot of cruises in my lifetime, and most of the time I am not in my cabin. With all of the activities, things to see and food to enjoy, the last place you want to be is in your cabin. I have met plenty of people that have said, “I am fine with an inside cabin, I am hardly ever in there.”

Although that might be true, once you experience a higher-level cabin, you find it hard to go back. I have stayed in an inside cabin, once. After staying in an oceanview cabin I would not want to stay in anything without a nice picture window. Bring able to look out at the sea is so calming and it is not always that much of a price increase. Then, when I stayed in a balcony cabin, I realized that the ability to be able to go out on your own personal deck space and enjoy the ocean breeze and sound of the ocean is worth so much more than merely being able to see it through a stationary window.

Most recently we went on a Norwegian cruise and were able to upgrade to a Haven Suite cabin. Special privileges, extra amenities, a bigger cabin and a butler and concierge.

It is great if you can afford to directly book a suite, but if you are unable to actually book one, you might be able to upgrade. Even an upgrade from an inside cabin to an oceanview cabin or balcony cabin would be good as well. Sometimes,the cabin might not be “better” as far as you can see, but the cruise line considers it an “upgrade” because it is in a better position on the ship, for example moving you from a forward cabin to a midship cabin or from deck seven to deck nine.

You need to be careful about upgrade though. I remember my first cruise, I received a free upgrade from a category 8 to a category 9. Sounded great, but the difference was that I was moved from a cabin with a queen-sized bed to a cabin on a higher deck (which they considered an upgrade) to a cabin with two twin sized beds that were bolted to opposite ends of the cabin. Oh, and did I mention it was my honeymoon? They were not able to do anything because they were booked up and there were no other cabins to put us in. My recommendation is that you check out were the upgrade might be and if you are happy with your cabin, stay there.

However,if you are like most people and want to get a better cabin, we have 6 ways that you can possibly get an upgrade.

Be Loyal and Cruise Often

All the major cruise lines have their loyalty programs. The more you cruise, the more points you receive, the more points you receive, the higher the level you are in their program.

On the higher levels, most cruise lines will offer free or greatly reduced cost upgrades. These upgrades are not always guaranteed, but it is always best to call the loyalty program office after you book your cruise and see what options are available. You might even consider calling a few times in case something has come up closer to the time you are due to sail.

Even though these deals are usually reserved for the top tier members, if never hurts to ask if you are still making your way up to the top.

Book a "Free Upgrade" Promotion

Various cruise lines offer promotions that enable you to get “free upgrades” on certain cruises. Many times, these upgrades are within the same type. For example,inside to inside cabin, oceanview cabin to oceanview cabin or balcony cabin to balcony cabin. Some even offer a two-category upgrade, but it would only be from a forward inside cabin to a more desirable midship inside cabin on a higher deck.

Sometimes you will get lucky and see the cruise line is offering a special from and inside cabin to an oceanview cabin or oceanview cabin to a balcony cabin. This is a great deal if you can find one.

These upgrades have the advantage of being able to book your cabin and see the exact cabin you will be getting, no surprises after you are upgraded. A knowledgeable travel agent will be able to let you know in advance when these deals are coming up.

Sail During Low-Demand Seasons

This option for upgrading your cabin relies much on supply and demand. During slower times ships will often leave with empty cabins. So, as time gets closer to the sail date, prices will drop. Sometimes you will find that an oceanview cabin will be priced at or lower than the inside cabin you previously booked. You would then be able to take advantage of getting the upgraded cabin at the better price.

So,when is “low-demand” season? It all depends on the cruise itinerary and the time of year. It is usually the highest when kids are out of school. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me, “when is the cheapest time to take a cruise?”and when I tell them they say, “oh, I can’t go then the kids are in school!”

With that in mind, you can usually gauge when NOT to expect the lower pricing. Also,May and September are usually colder weather, and the Alaska cruises are not as booked up at those times. September to November in the Caribbean are also decent times for lower rates since school is back in session and it is at the peak of hurricane season.

Ask the Cruise Line

It never hurts to ask, right? There are times that you can call the cruise line and request an upgrade. It is very rare and only on a first-come, first-served basis, but you might get lucky and find someone at the cruise line that can help you get a better cabin for free of a very small price. You would need to do this about a week or two before sailing, or your best chance might be to get on the ship as early as possible and request an upgrade from the guest services desk as soon as you get on the ship.

Bid on It

Most recently, cruise lines began on having a bidding method for unsold cabins. I was booked on the Anthem of the Seas and 75 days before my departure I received an email that I was eligible for the Royal Up program. I originally booked a Junior Suite, so I had the option to bid on upgrading to a Grand Suite (minimum bid $350, maximum bid $690), an Owner’s Suite (minimum bid $550, maximum bid $1500)and a Sky Loft Suite (minimum bid $800, maximum bid $1480). For lower categories, to upgrade from an inside cabin to an oceanview cabin would only be about a $50 minimum bid.

These bids would be per person for only the 1st and 2nd passengers only. There would be no additional charge for 3rd or more passengers. Then, based on your bids they will notify you within 24 hours of sailing that your bid was the winning bid and charge your credit card. If you do not win the bidding, you would remain your current cabin. Your best chances of winning an upgrade would be to bid on multiple cabins, but you would only be awarded the highest level cabin that you were high bidder on.

 

Book a “Guarantee” Cabin

The lowest price cabin in any category level is the guarantee. These cabins are not assigned to the passengers until about a week or two before the sailing date.So, if you book an oceanview cabin in the “Guarantee” category, you will basically be given whatever “leftover” cabins were not booked at that time. Chances are they would be the less desirable forward cabins, but if all of the oceanview cabins are booked up, they would put you in the next highest available cabin, possibly a balcony.

However,if you have a “Guarantee” and a frequent cruiser gets an upgrade, you would then likely get their original cabin.

Your best bet, avoid the “Guarantee” cabins unless you would be happy with ANY cabin that would be in that category.

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Peter Korer

I have been an avid traveler for the past 35 years. For the past 20 of those years, cruising has been my preferred method of travel. I have been all over the world and have discovered the best way to see many locations while enjoying the travel between them has been by ship.

After going on several cruises I had found a passion for knowing about every cruise line and ship available. My friends would come to me asking for my advice and recommendations for their cruises. I would happily help them out. I then decided to get my license and actually sell travel through the cruise line directly. It did not cost anything more for my friends to book through me since I was paid through the cruise lines as a travel agent, but the perks I received from the cruise lines were incredible. This enabled me to cruise more often and on more cruise ships. I love to share my knowledge with others and see them enjoy themselves as much as I have.

The reason I started this blog was to share my knowledge about cruising with as many people as I can. I am here to answer your questions and I will hopefully open your eyes to all of the wonderful possibilities that cruising has to offer.

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