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How To Get Cruise Upgrades


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Blithe Melson



Getting a cruise upgrade can be an exciting bonus to enhance your vacation experience. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a larger cabin, better views, or access to exclusive amenities? While getting a cruise upgrade may seem like an elusive dream, there are strategies you can employ to increase your chances of scoring that coveted upgrade.


In this article, we will guide you through ten steps to help you maximize your chances of getting a cruise upgrade. From researching different cruise lines to utilizing special offers and loyalty programs, we will provide you with the knowledge and tips you need to increase your chances of enjoying the benefits of an upgraded cabin.


It’s important to note that cruise upgrades are not guaranteed, and availability can vary depending on various factors such as the cruise line, cabin availability, and travel dates. However, by following these steps and being proactive in your approach, you can significantly improve your odds of securing a cruise upgrade and enjoying a more luxurious and memorable vacation.


So, let’s embark on this journey together and discover how you can increase your chances of getting that coveted cruise upgrade. Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned traveler, these tips will help you navigate the world of cruise upgrades and make the most of your vacation.


Step 1: Research Different Cruise Lines

Before you even start planning your cruise, it’s important to research and compare different cruise lines. Each cruise line offers a unique experience and varying levels of amenities and services. By understanding the offerings of each cruise line, you can choose the one that best aligns with your preferences and increases your chances of securing an upgrade.


Start by considering the reputation of the cruise lines you’re interested in. Look for reviews and feedback from previous travelers to get an idea of their overall quality and customer satisfaction. Some cruise lines are known for their exceptional service and luxurious accommodations, making them more likely to have upgrade opportunities available.


Additionally, pay attention to the specific ships within each cruise line’s fleet. Some ships may have more suite or balcony cabins, increasing your chances of finding availability for upgrades. Research the cabin categories available on each ship and determine which ones might be more likely to have upgrade options.


Furthermore, consider the destinations and itineraries offered by each cruise line. Certain destinations or specialty cruises may attract fewer passengers, creating more opportunity for upgrades. For example, a repositioning cruise or an off-season sailing might have more availability for upgrades compared to a popular summer cruise.


By doing thorough research and understanding the differences between cruise lines, you can make an informed decision that puts you in the best position to secure a cruise upgrade. Keep your preferences and priorities in mind as you explore different options, and you’ll have a better chance of getting the upgrade you desire.


Step 2: Choose the Right Cabin Category

When it comes to cruise upgrades, the cabin category you choose can significantly impact your chances of securing an upgrade. While it may be tempting to book the lowest-priced cabin to save money, opting for a higher cabin category can increase your chances of getting an upgrade.


Cruise lines often prioritize upgrading passengers who have originally booked higher-priced cabins. This means that if you book a lower-priced interior cabin, your chances of receiving an upgrade may be lower compared to someone who has booked a higher-priced balcony or suite. Consider your budget and preferences, and choose a cabin category that is slightly higher than what you initially desire.


Another factor to consider is the availability of cabins in each category. If a particular cabin category is popular and sells out quickly, there may be fewer opportunities for upgrades. On the other hand, if you choose a cabin category that is less popular or has more availability, you increase your chances of being considered for an upgrade.


It’s also worth noting that some cruise lines offer specific upgrade programs or promotions. For example, they might offer a “guaranteed cabin” program where you book a lower-priced cabin and are guaranteed an upgrade to a higher category if available. These programs can be a great way to increase your chances of getting a better cabin without breaking the bank.


Ultimately, choosing the right cabin category requires careful consideration. Balancing your budget, preferences, and the potential for upgrades is key. By opting for a slightly higher-priced cabin and keeping an eye out for upgrade promotions, you can maximize your chances of enjoying a better cabin than you originally booked.


Step 3: Book Your Cruise Early

One of the most effective strategies to increase your chances of getting a cruise upgrade is to book your cruise early. Cruise lines tend to allocate a certain number of cabins for upgrades, and these are often filled on a first-come, first-served basis.


By booking early, you not only have access to a wider range of cabin options, but you also have a better chance of securing an upgrade. As time goes on, the availability of cabins, especially in higher categories, diminishes, reducing the likelihood of an upgrade being available.


In addition, booking early allows you to take advantage of any early bird promotions or discounts that the cruise line may be offering. This can help you secure a higher cabin category at a lower price, increasing your value for money.


Furthermore, some cruise lines offer upgrade incentives for passengers who book early. They may have special promotions that include complimentary upgrades or reduced rates for higher cabin categories. By being proactive and getting your reservation in early, you can take advantage of these enticing offers.


It’s important to remember that cruise upgrades are not guaranteed, even if you book early. However, by booking early, you give yourself the best chance of securing an upgrade and potentially enjoying a more luxurious experience onboard.


So, mark your calendars and start planning your cruise well in advance. By booking early, you increase your chances of not only getting the cabin category you desire but also opening up the possibility of a delightful upgrade.


Step 4: Join Loyalty Programs

If you frequently cruise or plan on taking multiple cruises in the future, joining loyalty programs can significantly increase your chances of getting a cruise upgrade. Loyalty programs are designed to reward repeat customers and offer various perks, including the potential for cabin upgrades.


Most major cruise lines have loyalty programs that allow you to accumulate points or tiers based on the number of cruises you’ve taken or the amount of money you’ve spent. As you move up in loyalty status, you gain access to exclusive benefits, such as priority embarkation, onboard credits, and potential upgrades.


By joining a cruise line’s loyalty program and regularly sailing with the same cruise line, you demonstrate your loyalty as a customer. Cruise lines value repeat business and are more likely to reward loyal customers with upgrades when available.


It’s important to understand the specific benefits and requirements of each loyalty program. Some loyalty programs have multiple tiers, and the higher your status, the greater your chances of receiving a cruise upgrade. Additionally, paying attention to promotions and offers exclusively for loyalty program members can further increase your chances of securing an upgrade.


If you’re new to cruising or haven’t sailed with a specific cruise line before, some loyalty programs offer status match programs. This means that if you have a high loyalty status with a different cruise line or a loyalty status from a different travel industry, you may be eligible for a comparable status with the new cruise line, giving you a head start in earning loyalty benefits, including upgrades.


Joining loyalty programs is a long-term approach to increasing your chances of getting a cruise upgrade. By establishing yourself as a loyal customer and accumulating points or achieving higher loyalty tiers, you become eligible for a range of benefits, including potential upgrades to enhance your cruise experience.


Step 5: Upgrade During Check-In

While it’s not guaranteed, one opportune time to inquire about a cruise upgrade is during the check-in process. At the check-in desk, you can politely ask if there are any cabin upgrades available for your sailing.


During check-in, cruise lines sometimes have a limited number of unoccupied cabins due to last-minute cancellations or changes. This presents an opportunity for you to potentially secure an upgrade at a reduced price or even for free if you’re lucky.


When inquiring about upgrades during check-in, it’s important to be polite and respectful. Remember that upgrades are not guaranteed and are subject to availability. However, expressing your interest in upgrading and politely asking if there are any options available can increase your chances of a positive outcome.


Furthermore, if you booked your cruise through a travel agent, they can often assist in checking for available upgrades during the check-in process. Travel agents have access to special booking systems and may have insider knowledge of last-minute upgrade opportunities.


In some cases, cruise lines may have specific upgrade policies or programs that offer upgrades at discounted rates or based on availability. These programs may be mentioned during the check-in process, so it’s worth inquiring about them if you haven’t already done so.


While upgrade availability during check-in can be unpredictable, it’s a window of opportunity worth exploring. By being proactive and politely inquiring about upgrades, you may get the chance to enjoy a better cabin than initially booked, adding a touch of luxury to your cruise experience.


Step 6: Take Advantage of Special Offers

When it comes to getting a cruise upgrade, keeping an eye out for special offers and promotions can greatly increase your chances. Cruise lines often have limited-time offers and promotions that include discounted upgrades or perks for certain cabin categories.


These special offers can come in various forms, such as free or reduced rate upgrades, onboard credits, or bundled packages that include upgraded cabins. It’s important to stay informed about these promotions by regularly checking the cruise line’s website, subscribing to their newsletters, or following their social media accounts.


One common type of special offer is the “upgrade bid” program, where passengers in lower cabin categories can bid on available inventory in higher cabin categories. This allows you to potentially secure an upgrade by bidding an amount you’re comfortable with, increasing your chances of securing a better cabin.


Additionally, certain cruise lines offer promotions during specific times of the year, such as wave season or holiday sales. These promotions often include upgrades as part of the package, making it an ideal time to book and potentially secure a better cabin at a discounted rate.


It’s important to note that special offers and promotions are subject to availability and can vary by cruise line and sailing. However, by keeping an eye out for these opportunities and being flexible with your travel plans, you can take advantage of these promotional offers and potentially enjoy an upgrade that enhances your cruise experience.


Remember to read the terms and conditions of any special offers, including upgrade promotions, to understand the requirements and any potential limitations. By staying informed and seizing these special offers, you can increase your chances of getting a cruise upgrade and enjoying a more luxurious voyage.


Step 7: Build a Good Relationship with the Cruise Line

Building a good relationship with the cruise line can go a long way in increasing your chances of securing a cruise upgrade. Cruise lines value loyal customers and strive to provide excellent service and personalized experiences to those who consistently choose their brand.


One way to build a good relationship is to provide feedback and reviews after your cruises. Share your positive experiences and express your appreciation for the cruise line’s amenities and services. This not only shows your loyalty but also helps the cruise line understand your preferences and potentially reward you with special perks, including upgrades.


Another way to foster a good relationship is to engage with the cruise line’s loyalty program and take advantage of any exclusive benefits offered to members. Attend events or participate in activities designed for loyalty program members, as it demonstrates your commitment to the brand and may lead to additional perks or even upgrade opportunities.


Additionally, if you have a specific cruise line that you prefer, consider booking your cruises directly with them rather than through third-party booking websites. By booking directly, you establish a direct relationship with the cruise line, which can lead to better customer service and potential upgrade opportunities.


Staying loyal to a specific cruise line and consistently choosing their brand for your vacations can help you establish a rapport with the company. The more you cruise with a particular line, the more familiar they become with your preferences, making them more likely to consider you for upgrades when available.


Remember, building a good relationship with the cruise line takes time and consistent support. By showing your loyalty and engaging with the brand, you increase your chances of receiving exclusive offers, upgrades, and a memorable cruise experience.


Step 8: Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates

Being flexible with your travel dates can greatly enhance your chances of securing a cruise upgrade. Cruise lines often have fluctuating demand throughout the year, resulting in variations in cabin availability and upgrade opportunities.


Consider cruising during the shoulder season or off-peak times, when demand is typically lower. During these periods, cruise lines may have more inventory available and be more willing to offer upgrades to entice passengers to book. By choosing to cruise during less popular times, you increase your chances of securing an upgrade at a reduced rate or even for free.


Flexibility is also important when it comes to the length of your cruise. Longer cruises tend to attract fewer passengers compared to shorter trips. This provides more opportunities for upgrades, as there may be a higher number of available cabins in higher categories.


Another way to increase your flexibility is to consider multiple departure ports. Different ports may have varying levels of demand, so availability and upgrade opportunities can differ depending on the port you choose. Explore the different departure options for your desired destination and see if there are any variations in upgrade availability.


Lastly, keep an eye out for last-minute deals. Cruise lines sometimes offer discounted rates or attractive promotions on unsold cabins close to the departure date. By being flexible and open to booking last-minute, you can take advantage of potential upgrade opportunities that arise as the sailing date approaches.


Remember, being flexible with your travel dates requires an open mindset and willingness to adjust your plans. By considering alternative times to cruise and keeping an eye on last-minute deals, you can increase your chances of landing a cruise upgrade and enjoying a more luxurious experience.


Step 9: Consider Last-Minute Upgrades

If you’re open to spontaneity and have some flexibility in your schedule, considering last-minute upgrades can be a great way to score a cruise upgrade at a discounted price. As the sail date approaches, cruise lines may offer upgrades to fill any remaining unsold cabins or to create an incentive for passengers to upgrade their existing bookings.


Keep an eye on the cruise line’s website or contact their customer service to inquire about any last-minute upgrade offers. These deals can often provide significant savings compared to booking a higher cabin category from the start. By taking advantage of a last-minute upgrade, you can enjoy the perks of a better cabin without the premium price tag.


It’s important to note that last-minute upgrades are subject to availability and can vary for each sailing. However, if there is unsold inventory in higher cabin categories, the cruise line may be more inclined to offer attractive upgrade options to ensure maximum occupancy.


Another option for last-minute upgrades is to check with the onboard staff during embarkation. Sometimes, due to cancellations or no-shows, higher category cabins may become available. Inquire politely about any potential upgrade options, as there may be opportunities to secure an upgrade on the day of departure.


Keep in mind that last-minute upgrades require flexibility and a willingness to book closer to the sail date. If you’re comfortable with last-minute planning and can be spontaneous with your travel, exploring these upgrade options can be a fantastic way to enjoy a more luxurious experience onboard.


Remember to stay proactive, closely monitor the cruise line’s offers, and be prepared to make a decision quickly. By considering last-minute upgrades, you may just find yourself enjoying the perks of an upgraded cabin without spending a fortune.


Step 10: Utilize a Travel Agent’s Expertise

When it comes to navigating the world of cruise upgrades, enlisting the help of a travel agent can be highly beneficial. Travel agents have access to industry knowledge, insider information, and relationships with cruise lines that can greatly enhance your chances of securing a cruise upgrade.


A knowledgeable travel agent can provide valuable insights into the various cruise lines, ships, and cabin categories available. They can help you understand the upgrade policies of different cruise lines and guide you in making the best choices to increase your chances of getting an upgrade.


Travel agents often have access to exclusive promotions and special offers that may include cabin upgrades. They can keep you informed about these opportunities and help you take advantage of them to secure a better cabin at a discounted rate.


Furthermore, travel agents can actively monitor your booking and advocate on your behalf for potential upgrades. They have direct communication channels with cruise line representatives, allowing them to inquire about upgrade availability and negotiate on your behalf.


Travel agents can also handle the logistics of change requests or cancellations, should an upgrade become available. They can efficiently manage the process, ensuring a smooth transition to your upgraded cabin without any hassle.


When consulting with a travel agent, be sure to express your desire for a potential upgrade and provide them with any relevant preferences or budget considerations. The more they know about your preferences, the better equipped they will be to help you secure a suitable upgrade.


Keep in mind that travel agents may charge a fee for their services, so it’s important to discuss and agree upon any fees upfront. However, the expertise and connections they bring to the table can be invaluable in securing a cruise upgrade.


By utilizing a travel agent’s expertise and industry relationships, you can maximize your chances of enjoying a cruise upgrade and making the most of your vacation experience.



Securing a cruise upgrade can add an extra layer of luxury and enjoyment to your vacation experience. While there are no guarantees, following the ten steps outlined in this article can greatly increase your chances of getting that coveted upgrade.


By conducting research on different cruise lines, choosing the right cabin category, booking early, and joining loyalty programs, you lay the groundwork for potential upgrade opportunities. Being flexible with your travel dates, taking advantage of special offers, and building a good relationship with the cruise line can further enhance your chances.


Considering last-minute upgrades and utilizing the expertise of a travel agent can provide additional avenues to secure a cruise upgrade at a discounted rate. However, it’s important to note that upgrades are subject to availability and can vary for each sailing.


Remember, the key is to be proactive, flexible, and keep an open mindset. While upgrades may not always be within reach, by using these strategies and being prepared, you increase your chances of enjoying a more luxurious and memorable cruise experience.


So, start planning your next cruise with these steps in mind, and may you embark on a voyage filled with wonderful memories and the joy of a well-deserved upgrade!