How to Get Free Cruise Ship Cabin Upgrades

Inside cabins aren’t the worst things in the world. But when you compare them to spacious balcony cabins and opulent suites, they don’t quite measure up. There’s no way to guarantee free cruise ship cabin upgrades every time you sail, but you can increase your chances of a freebie or complimentary berth upgrade. If you like the idea of getting more luxury than you paid for, here are some tips to help you bag a cabin upgrade without spending a single extra penny.

Deck of cruise ship with water in background; free cruise ship cabin upgrades

Book a guarantee cabin

When you book a cabin on a cruise, you usually get two options. You can choose a specific cabin number. Or, choose a guarantee cabin in a certain category and let the cruise line pick the exact cabin for you.

If you choose the exact cabin, the chances of an upgrade are very low; you’ve already paid money to choose your cabin. If you go with the guarantee cabin, you may get an upgrade if that category sells out.

Reserve the cheapest cabin category

Although this largely depends on the cruise line and itinerary, often the cheapest cabin categories are the first to sell out. Book a guarantee inside cabin (usually the cheapest option) just a couple of weeks after the cruise is released.

If someone else wants to book a specific cabin within that category, you may get upgraded so the other passengers can get the cabin they want. This may be the easiest way to get a free cruise ship cabin upgrade.

Cruise ship at the end of a pier; free cruise line cabin upgrades

Cruise with the same company

Just like airlines and hotels, cruise lines like to reward guests in their loyalty programmes. Free cruise ship cabin upgrades are most likely to go to people who holiday with them often. Although this also works the other way around . . .

Be a first time cruiser

While some lines reward loyalty, others give free cruise ship cabin upgrades to people who’ve never cruised with them before. They hope to win them over and turning them into regular passengers. This works for frequent cruisers trying out new cruise lines as well as people who’ve never stepped foot on a ship.

Breakfast table set at bow of ship with person's hands holding cup of coffee and news paper; free cruise line cabin upgrades

Ask your travel agent

Travel agents are well-versed when it comes to the art of bagging freebies. They know how often different cruise lines hand out free upgrades and just how to get them. Whether it’s waiting for the annual January sale when a certain line always offers free upgrades or waiting until the last minute to book a cabin in a sold out category, they’ve got the insider knowledge to get you what you want.

About Nicola Quinn


Nicola is a travel and food writer living in the Canary Islands who loves exploring far-off places, pushing herself to the limit and trying local eats wherever she goes.

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