Upgrades: Keeping the Option either Open or Closed

Cruise lines occasionally offer passengers free upgrades if they are over booked in a certain category or for some other reason cannot offer them the room they originally booked. For cruisers who have booked the best room that they could afford with no particular regard to location on the ship, an upgrade can be a great surprise on embarkation day. However, cruisers who have booked a room for its particular location or lay out, may not want to be upgraded to a “better cabin” because that better cabin may not really be better for them. Cruise Talk presents some thoughts on when to leave the option open and when to leave it closed.

When To Leave It Open

It is probably fairly obvious when to leave that option open: when you have booked the best cabin you could afford but really wanted some thing better.    For example if you have booked an inside cabin and really wanted an ocean view, or you booked an ocean view and really wanted a balcony.  Leaving that option open might result in a rare, but nice surprise a few weeks before your cruise or even when you arrive at the pier.   For example when we booked our Celebrity Infinity cruise to Hawaii, we were offered an upgrade to a balcony cabin at the pier.   We were hesitant to take it because we were cruising for the first time with our kids and the balcony cabin only had one upper birth, with the 4th bed being a sofa bed. However,  we decided that the balcony was a definite plus and took the upgrade.  Upgrades don’t happen very often, but if you leave the option open and are flexible with your cabin location then on that rare occasion you can get more than “what you paid for.”


When and How to Close The Option

There are times when you may want to close off that option .  If you have booked a particular cabin because of its location near the elevator or the center of the ship, then you may not want to risk the option of being moved to a “better” cabin in what would be a worse location for your liking.    Many people book near the elevators towards the end of the ship where they prefer to spend the most time.   Some families like to be at the same end as the kids program.   Others prefer a lower cabin near the center of the ship where they are less likely to feel the motion of the sea.    As mentioned in my above example, I had booked a cabin with-out a balcony with two upper bunks because I thought that would be the safest and most comfortable for my family.  As it turned out I was happy with the upgrade because I’m pretty flexible.

However, if you are certain that a particular cabin is the best for your circumstances, then you need to make sure that you mark you reservation “Do Not Upgrade”.   That way when certain categories are overbooked, the cruise line will skip over your reservation and offer an upgrade to another passenger for whom it might be a better fit.

Don’t Count on an Upgrade

Though they do happen, they are still pretty rare.  To avoid over booking of their lowest price cabin categories, cruise lines will sometimes offer specials on higher classes of cabin categories to encourage sales of those cabins.   They have precise reservation systems and it is very rare for cabin assignment mistakes.   If you really want a balcony, book one at the start.  Upgrades usually happen one cabin category at a time.  Examples might include inside to ocean view, ocean view to balcony, balcony to mini suite, mini suite to full suite.    It is highly unlikely that if you have booked an inside cabin that your would be upgraded to a balcony or higher.  Book the price cabin with which you’ll be happy and will meet your needs.

Plan Ahead

Perhaps the most importantly,  plan ahead when making your reservation.     Decide whether or not you would want to take a possible upgrade at the time you select your room.    That way, when you arrive at the pier the only surprises are good surprises.