How To Score A Cabin Upgrade On A Cruise

3 December 2013

Cruising is one of the great pleasures in life. This is your opportunity to relax away from the pressures of the daily grind. Along the way you’ll enjoy the plethora of activities on board the ship and explore fascinating seaside destinations. While cruising is fantastic, perhaps the icing on the mast would be a surprise cabin upgrade. If you have your heart set on a cabin with an ocean view – then we'd advise booking it. However, if you’re willing to employ a few simple tactics your standard cabin could become a suite with a balcony or at the very least an ocean view cabin.

 Royal Caribbean: Oasis of the Seas. Photographer: Flight Centre's Deryk Lee

Join the club
Many of the major cruise lines have a loyalty club that’s worth joining if you cruise with them often. The more you cruise the higher up the ranks you'll climb in the program and the more benefits you'll receive. Some cruise lines include a free cabin upgrade once guests have reached the upper end of the program. We think it’s a good idea to be a member of club because it demonstrates loyalty and when a random upgrade is on the cards – members will most likely be considered the first in line.

Cruise often
As a way of demonstrating a cruise line’s appreciation to guests who cruise with them regularly, the liner may grant you that elusive cabin upgrade should the opportunity arise. So don’t be afraid to tell the team as you’re boarding that you’ve been on many expeditions with the liner and loved them all. The flip side to this logic is that if guests are cruising with the liner for the first time having experienced the services of other companies, the on-board team may want to impress the newbie guests and offer them an upgrade.

Book early
If you’re one of the first to book a cabin in a particular grade, in the event that the liner needs to upgrade passengers, they may smile favourably on the travellers who reserved their cabin first. It’s always a good idea to lock on travel plans early so that the date and the ship of your dreams has places available.

Smile and ask
Sometimes just asking nicely may yield the desired results. When you board the ship, there’ll be a purser, whose job it is to look after the safety and comfort of the passengers. If you’re cruising for a special occasion such as an anniversary or birthday, it can’t hurt to let the purser know and subtly ask if there are any cabins available in the higher classes.

Cruise in the off-season
If you don’t mind cruising in the ‘official’ off-season, then logic says that you’re more likely to receive an upgrade if there are cabins available. Alternatively, select a route that’s less popular. Repositioning cruises are also a great way to enjoy the cruising experience.

Special offers
While this isn’t really a surprise cabin upgrade, on occasions cruise lines will offer specials – where travellers pay the price of a cheaper cabin and receive a higher classed cabin. These free upgrade deals are probably one of the only ways to guarantee that you’ll receive a superior cabin at a rock bottom price.

Book a ‘Guaranteed’ Cabin Grade
Some cruise lines sell what’s known as a ‘guaranteed’ cabin grade, without actually allocating a specific cabin at the time of booking. Passengers are guaranteed to travel in a cabin of that grade but the cruise line will have the flexibility of distributing the cabins just before departure. For the traveller, it may mean that the cruise line needs to upgrade some passengers to superior cabins to accommodate everyone’s requests.

Luck
When it comes to random cabin class upgrades, there really isn’t any sure fire guaranteed methods. Most of the time it will come down to luck – being on the right cruise, at the right time. But there’s no harm hoping that on your next adventure to a fantastic destination, you’ll be blessed with a cabin class superior to the one that you paid for.

Lyndon Barnett

Guided by curiosity and a sense of adventure, Lyndon travelled independently to 69 countries on six continents. As such, travel is Lyndon's only addiction. He enjoys with equal measure - scaling the peaks of a South American mountain at altitude, attending opera in a European Opera House or hunting for a bargain in an Asian market.