Can You Upgrade Your Cruise?
Getting an upgrade – especially a free upgrade – isn’t easy. There are a few ways to improve your chances though!
There are cabin upgrades, which mean you’ll be in a higher category of accommodation. For example, you can upgrade from an inside cabin to an outside (porthole) cabin, from an outside cabin to one with a balcony, or from a balcony to a suite.
You may also find improvements that don’t specifically count as an upgrade, such as a cabin that’s on a higher level or closer to the centre of the ship (but technically the same category). Some cabins in the same category are a lot larger, e.g. those equipped for wheelchair access. These will be allocated (often at random) if nobody with special requirements books them.
Let’s take a look at some of the experts’ top tips…
1. Keep Looking
Even after you’ve made your booking, keep an eye out for lower prices and special offers on your cruise.
You’re unlikely to be notified if the cost of your cabin or another category decreases after you’ve booked and paid, but if you spot a special offer you should contact your booking agent – they should be able to do something about it. ‘Roaming Round The World’ notes that this usually applies before the cancellation cut-off date which is usually 60-90 days before embarkation. Check the specific terms and conditions for your cruise.
2. Be Loyal
This is recommended by cruise experts and websites such as Cruise Critic, Cruise Bulletin, and Trip Savvy.
If you book regular cruises with the same cruise line, if they have a few spare balcony suites you’ll be a little more likely to get the nod.
Check if your cruise line has a programme for regular passengers, as you may be able to collect points, or even receive freebies or discounts.
3. Book Early… or Late
Early bird specials sometimes include a free or discounted cabin upgrade. That’s simple enough, just look out for those offers when bookings open.
Don’t be nervous about booking early! Purchase your cruise insurance when you place that booking and make sure you’re covered for health, weather, and anything else that may affect your ability to travel.
Booking late is a gamble, but in some cases passengers have reported being placed in a higher category of cabin when the one they requested was already sold out. This is quite unusual, but not impossible, and you certainly won’t be downgraded to a lower category.
Cruises often advertise last-minute deals to fill up unused cabins, so you may be able to find a bargain if you aren’t too fussy about your itinerary.
4. Take Advantage Of Lower Demand
Off-season prices are often lower, and ships can be emptier at these times, making an upgrade or discount easier to find.
5. Just Ask
Once you have boarded, check if the ship is full, or if any last minute upgrades are available. Once again, there’s no guarantee, but it doesn’t hurt to check.
Some cruise enthusiasts recommend only asking after the ship has left the first port, as someone in a higher category cabin may have had to disembark or cancel.
If you’re celebrating a special occasion, be sure to mention it! It’s unlikely to get you a full cabin upgrade, but it may mean a bottle of bubbly or a meal. Please don’t make up an occasion though… the crew have heard it all before, and this can ruin things for people who really do have something to celebrate.
Automatic Upgrade: Cruise Insurance
With our International Cruise Insurance, you get an automatic upgrade every time. Standard cover on every policy includes:
· Cruise Interruption
· Unused Excursions
· Missed Port
· Withdrawal of Services
· Travel Delay
· Travel Disruption
· Natural Catastrophe cover
· Scheduled Airline Failure
· Money and Passport cover
· Confinement to Cabin – If you’re confined to your cabin for medical reasons on the advice of the ship’s medical officers (this must be confirmed in writing) we’ll cover each 24-hour period of confinement.
This is just an outline of the cover we provide! Please read our Policy Wording for full terms, conditions, inclusions & exclusions.
Not All Upgrades…
We all love the idea of an upgrade, but take a careful look at what that deal actually entails.
We’ve seen a few ads for “upgrades” that would probably end up costing you more, such as a “drinks package upgrade” that in fact included very limited house wines and spirits. Passengers would still have had to pay for cocktails and anything aside from that limited menu.
And do you really want an unlimited drinks package? A hangover every morning isn’t our idea of fun, and being even a bit tipsy on board increases the risk of trips, slips and falls exponentially.
Many websites talk about booking a “Guaranteed” stateroom. This means your cabin is only allocated at the last minute, so you could end up with a lovely upgrade, or you could find yourself in your guaranteed category, but in a less desirable location. This isn’t a gamble we’d be willing to take.
If you have a balcony but you’re in a noisy part of the ship and can’t get any sleep, it really isn’t worth it. The same goes for cabins that are far from dining rooms and other amenities.
At the end of the day if you’re offered a cabin upgrade, make sure it’s going to make you more comfortable!
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