12 ways to get a cruise upgrade

The tips you need to score a more luxurious cabin for nothing with a cruise upgrade.

Bought an inside cabin but wishing you could get a room with a view instead for no extra cost? Sounds like a dream but there is a reality behind it.

Cruise cabin upgrades can happen, and while sometimes it’s luck of the draw, other times there are certain things you can do to increase your chances of being upgraded to that enviable balcony stateroom.

While the below tips aren’t guaranteed to work, it certainly can’t hurt to try them.

Good luck!

Top tips to score a cruise upgrade

1. Cruise often with the same liner: Brands love loyalty and will pay you back in kind for being a return customer. If you like, you can drop a message to them about having enjoyed your last trip and how you are really looking forward to your next one. Who knows? The kind words just might get you some extra special treatment.

2. Join a membership program: Cruise lines tend to be more happy to grant an upgrade request when you’re a member of their program. Princess Cruise members can receive discounts, priority boarding, upgrades to bathroom amenities and upgrades to their vacation protection. Royal Caribbean states that upgrades will be offered to its Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members.

3 Book a guarantee or a TBA cabin: Standing for “To Be Assigned” this method means that while you don’t pick exactly which cabin you’ll get when you book, you are guaranteed your nominated cabin class or higher. If the more premium cabins above you sell out, then you’ll get what you nominated. If they don’t, you might get upgraded.

4. Choose a ship with a generous amount of superior rooms: It’s fair to say that if the ship has a limited number of premium cabins, you’ve got a limited chance of nabbing one for free. Opt for a ship with more and increase your chances.

5. Hold out a day before requesting the upgrade: Once the no-shows on your sailing have been confirmed, you might be able to cash-in on their rooms. Visit the front desk and make a request. You might even like to offer a little extra to compensate for the change.

6. Cruise off-peak: The less people on your ship the more chances a superior cabin will be empty. Use this to your advantage.

7. Look for specials: Sometimes cruise lines will offer you a balcony stateroom for inside or outside cabin prices. Keep your eyes peeled and keep this page bookmarked for when these sorts of deals appear.

8. Use your onboard credit: This one’s up to the cruise line to acceptor not, but if you’ve got onboard credit to spare why not use it to grab an upgrade? Now, this credit can’t be used until you set sail, so wait until you’re clear of the port before asking if it’s possible.

9 Book the outside cabin: Jumping from an inside cabin to a stateroom is a big ask. Make your request more realistic by booking a cabin that’s slightly more superior. If you’ve booked an inside room, perhaps try for an upgrade to an outside cabin instead.

10. Celebrate an occasion: When checking in, let the staff know that you’re celebrating something, whether it be a birthday, anniversary or engagement. The cruise line might be happy to help you celebrate in style if they can. If nothing else, they might give you some kind of bonus like a bottle of wine or tickets to a show.

11. Complain if you have something to complain about: Not happy with your cabin? If it’s a legitimate reason such as something not working or it being too noisy, let the front staff know. Usually they’ll be happy to do something to meet the expectations of your trip.

12. Ask for it: Don’t forget to be polite, too. There’s never any harm in asking.

Haven't booked your cruise yet? Check out our deals and discounts:

Up to 50% off + onboard credit: Cruise Sale Week

Book now and get up to 50% off plus onboard credit at CruiseAway. Valid on selected Cunard, P&O, Carnival and Holland America cruises. T&Cs apply.

Up to 41% off Antarctic expeditions with Peregrine

Valid on select tours including 41% off the 11-day Antarctic Explorer, 27% off the 7-day Antarctic Express and 27% off the 14-day Crossing the Circle.

Up to 41% off Antarctic and Arctic trips with Intrepid

Valid on select tours departing until in Antarctica and the Arctic. Sample expeditions include the 11-day Antarctic Explorer for 41% off, 8-day Arctic Watch Lodge for 22% off and the 11-day Antarctic Express for 22% off.

Save up to 50%: Mates Rate Sale

Valid on select sailings until 30 April 2018. Get the second passenger in your cabin for up to 50% off on select P&O sailings. Conditions apply.

Up to 14% off Antarctic cruises

Valid on select Antarctic expedition cruises from Quark Expeditions, Antarctica XXI, Silversea an Hurtigruten.

FREE upgrade to all inclusive drinks package

Book now and get your free upgrade to all inclusive drinks package or have a twin room to yourself without paying a supplement at Fred Olsen. T&Cs apply.

Free drinks during your cruise

Book select cruises in Africa, Asia, Australasia, South Pacific, Europe, North America or South America and get a free All Inclusive upgrade to include drinks.

Up to 30% off rivercruises

Valid on select cruises departing until 30 April on the Ganges, Mekong and Burgundy.

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Up to 72% off P&O Cruises

Valid on select cruises in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Islands. Sample discounts include 72% off a 3-night cruise from Brisbane, 85% off a 2-night cruise from Sydney to Melbourne and 56% off a 10-night South Pacific cruise from Sydney.

50% off second passenger on MSC Cruises

Valid on select MSC Cruise booking made before 10 March. Valid on sailings in the Caribbean, South America, Europe, South Africa and the Middle East.

3 for Free Sale: Upgrades, Drinks & Credit

Cruise on selected voyages and you can enjoy a free stateroom location upgrade, plus free onboard spending money, plus a free Wine and Dine package T&Cs apply. See site for details.

Up to 30% off + onboard credit on Royal Caribbean Cruises

Valid on sailings departing before 22 April and also includes 50% off deposits when you book select cruises in Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Transpacific and Asia repositioning cruises and more at CruiseAway. T&Cs apply.

Up to $600 onboard credit + free specialty dining

Get up to $600 free onboard spending money per stateroom. Plus book a Balcony, Mini-Suite or Suite and receive free specialty dining. T&Cs apply.

50% off second passenger on Azamara + free internet

Book outside cabins or higher on select Azamara cruises departing 12 June 2017 until 26 April 2018 and the second passenger sails for free, plus get free unlimited internet.

Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is a journalist, avid traveller and all-round bargain hunter. If there's an online coupon code, deal or cheap flight available, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too.

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