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7 Ways to Get a Cabin Upgrade on a Cruise for Free (or Cheap)

Want to know how to get a free or cheap cabin upgrade on your next cruise? While upgrades are not very common, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances. Here are some tips on how to get a cruise cabin upgrade. Why not give it a try on your next cruise? 

How to Get a Cabin Upgrade on a Cruise

1. Loyalty Perks

If you’re looking for a way to score a free cabin upgrade on a cruise, having a loyalty status can be a surefire way to make it happen. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Latitude rewards program offers Diamond members a one-time free cabin upgrade. However, reaching Diamond status is not easy – it requires 350 points, which is equivalent to roughly 350 nights on a cruise!

2. Bid for a Cabin Upgrade

Another way to get a cabin upgrade is to bid for it. Once you’ve booked your cruise, some cruise lines will send you an email offering you the chance to bid on a cabin upgrade. The email gives you different stateroom options to choose from. 

Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, MSC, and Celebrity are the cruise lines that offer this upgrade option. They typically send you the email to upgrade 30 to 60 days before departure. 

For example, during my recent MSC cruise, I was given the chance to upgrade to an MSC Yacht Club Deluxe Suite, starting at $1520 per person, or a Suite Aurea with Terrace and Whirlpool, starting at $620 per person. You can adjust the price slider to increase or decrease the bid, but there is a minimum bid requirement. 

It’s a silent auction so you don’t know what others are bidding. I suggest bidding at a low price because you might not even have competition! You won’t be charged unless your bid wins.  

The downside is that you won’t have control over the location of your cabin if you decide to bid for an upgrade. If you’re picky about your cabin location, this might not be the best option for you. 

For me, I decided not to bid on a cabin upgrade since I had already chosen a balcony cabin that was mid-ship and near the cabins of family members. If I were to win a cabin upgrade, I wouldn’t be located near them, and there’s no guarantee that I’d get a mid-ship location. Plus, since I’m prone to seasickness, an upgrade to a poorly located cabin is not an upgrade for me. I’d rather be in a lower cabin category as long as I’m located mid-ship!

Cruise cabin upgrade

3. Guaranteed Cabin

One way to get a free cabin upgrade is to book the “Guaranteed cabin” rate. This basically means you do not choose your cabin location but leave it up to the cruise line to choose for you. While you’ll be guaranteed a room in your cabin category, there’s a chance you could be upgraded.   

This strategy can work if you’re not too particular about where your cabin is located and are content with letting the cruise line make the decision for you. Keep in mind that if you do get upgraded, you likely won’t be given the very best room in the upgraded cabin category. 

That’s because other cruisers have already handpicked and reserved the best rooms, leaving you with the leftover cabins in undesirable locations. For example, you might luck out and get upgraded to a balcony cabin, but it has an obstructed view facing the life boat!

4. Special Occasion

One way to get a free cabin upgrade is to celebrate a special occasion. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, like a honeymoon, an anniversary, or a milestone birthday, you should let your travel agent or the cruise line know when you book your cruise. 

Your travel agent might be able to pull some strings for you. Or at the very least, you will get a free bottle of champagne. 

But don’t get your hopes up, cabin upgrades are not very common. But, if you’re traveling during the slower, off-peak season when the cruise ship isn’t at full capacity, there’s a chance that you might get lucky and get an upgrade. So, it’s always worth a shot!

Cruise cabin upgrade

5. Call the Cruise Line or Travel Agent Directly

Even if you are not celebrating a special occasion, you should still call the cruise line directly or your travel agent. Find out if there is a way for you to get a free cabin upgrade. If a free upgrade is unavailable, ask them how much it would cost you to get a cabin upgrade. 

If you’re traveling during the slower, off-peak season, you might be able to get a good deal on an upgrade. It never hurts to ask, and you never know what you might get!

6. Guest Services

If you’ve already boarded the ship and haven’t received an upgrade, don’t lose hope just yet. As a last resort, stop by the guest services desk and ask about the possibility of getting an upgrade. Most likely, the answer will be no. 

But it’s worth a shot. Maybe they might offer you an upgrade for a fee. It’s always worth exploring since you never know until you ask.

7. Complaining

One way to get a cabin upgrade, although not ideal, is to complain. If you legitimately have an issue with your cabin, you should definitely speak up and let guest services know. 

It can be stressful, and you may have to escalate the issue to a supervisor, sometimes, being persistent might pay off.   

I once cruised on Princess and we experienced a major leak. We had booked 2 cabins, and because of the leak, they upgraded both cabins. 

One cabin was upgraded from an inside cabin to a balcony cabin, and the other was upgraded from a balcony cabin to a one bedroom suite complete with a private patio and a hot tub. 

So, it’s worth speaking up if you’re not satisfied with your cabin since you never know what kind of upgrade you might get. Check out my article on: 10 Worst Cabins on a Cruise- You’ll Regret Booking

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