Cruise Cabin Upgrades

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Can you get a better cabin?

Cruise cabin upgrades have always been considered among the ultimate rewards of cruising. Like a promotion to first class on an overseas flight, an upgrade on a cruise is truly an exciting and desirable surprise. Cruise ship cabin upgrades used to be a very common occurrence, a special way of rewarding returning vacationers, but times have changed in recent years. A more stringent focus on the bottom line has made upgrades an elusive and even more coveted experience. Yet there are still many ways to get that wonderful cabin upgrade, especially if you know exactly how to proceed.

The Business of Cruise Cabin Upgrades

It used to be possible, and even common, to receive a cabin upgrade merely by request. Most staff members and even travel agents had the authority to reward customers with these promotions. However, these days the revenue management departments are the ones who usually exclusively control upgrades, and their main focus is maximizing profits from every cabin on the ship. In other words, if the cruise line management believes that there is even a remote chance that a person might actually pay for a higher priced stateroom, they would much rather take a profit from it than just give away a free upgrade.

The Benefits of Overbooking

If many of the lowest priced cabins are being booked and it seems that a cruise will be filled to capacity, or even overbooked in the cheaper cabins, it will likely become necessary for the cruise line to offer some upgrades. Usually, certain cruisers receive priority in the first upgrades available, such as repeat customers and those who made their reservations early. Upgrades usually occur at the port just prior to departure, when the passengers are checking in. So, don't expect to be given an upgrade months before your cruise departs just because you asked for one. That being said, asking never hurts, so try it. You might just get a pleasant surprise at the pier!

Upgrade Policies

The following upgrade policies are from major cruise lines and do not account for the upgrades that come from overbooking. These policies frequently change so it is always best to call your cruise line and determine the specific criteria for cabin upgrades. In all cases, upper level employees review all cruise cabin upgrades. These upgrade guidelines are listed in alphabetical order.

Carnival Cruise Line

Celebrity Cruises

  • Revenue management always reviews and administers requests for upgrades on Celebrity Cruises as well.
  • Approval is required from a director or vice president.
  • Most Celebrity outside cabins are upgraded to other outsides, while inside cabins are upgraded to insides.
    • This is usually the case, however, there is a chance for upgrades between types of cabins, such as inside to outside.

    Cunard Line

  • Revenue management always reviews and administers requests for upgrades.
  • Vice president must approve all upgrades.

Disney Cruise Line

  • All upgrades on Disney Cruise Line must have approval from a director level employee or above.

Holland America Cruise Line

  • Upgrades on Holland America Cruise Line are always dependent upon whether the passenger is a frequent cruiser, and with the amount paid.
  • Upgrades usually require approval from a director level employee, though not always.

Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Revenue management always administers upgrades.
  • Promotions granted upon whether the passenger is a frequent cruiser, the amount paid, and any special circumstances about the situation and the booking.
  • Upgrades require approval of a director level employee.

Orient Lines

  • Upgrades always reviewed on a specific case-by-case basis.

Princess Cruises

  • Upgrades requested from front line employees is fine, however, approval is required from revenue management or a director.

Radisson Seven Seas

  • Upgrades always reviewed on a specific case-by-case basis.
  • A director or vice president must approve promotions.

Royal Caribbean International

  • Upgrades always reviewed and administered by revenue management, and require approval from a director level employee or higher.
  • Most upgrades are inside to inside, or outside to outside.
    • This is almost always the case, however, there is a chance for upgrades between types of cabins, such as inside to outside.

    Seabourn

  • Upgrades always require approval of a vice president, unless a sailing or cabin category is oversold.

Silversea

  • Upgrades always reviewed on a specific case-by-case basis.

Although cruise cabin upgrades have become much more elusive in recent years, they are still very attainable if you know how to proceed. All cruise lines have specific procedures and different criteria for offering room promotions, and some are easier to obtain. If you don't ask, you'll never know.

Cruise Cabin Upgrades