How To Get Free Upgrades On Cruises – You are here: Home / Around the World Travel Tips / 10 Secrets to Getting a Free Balcony Upgrade on a Cruise
It’s certainly nice to have a cabin with a balcony while cruising. You have to love those mesmerizing ocean waves, the warm sea breeze, those beautiful views of the island on the horizon, the occasional seagulls flying by and the soothing sound of the waves.
How To Get Free Upgrades On Cruises
But balcony cabins on cruises can also be very expensive! Spending money in a veranda cabin can be hard to justify for those traveling on a budget. That’s why we’ve carefully researched many different ways to get a free upgrade to a balcony stateroom on a cruise ship.
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Since we have taken dozens of cruises around the world, totaling over half a year at sea, we have had great success using this tactic to score a free balcony upgrade. So now in this post we’re revealing all of our tips to show you what works to actually get your free cruise cabin upgrade.
In the first days of cruises, it was quite common practice to board the ship and ask Guest Relations whether it was possible to upgrade the room free of charge during the cruise. Often you could get a positive response and be immediately upgraded to your desired balcony cabin with a complimentary upgraded room. Unfortunately, in today’s cruise world, complimentary cruise cabin upgrades at the pier or while boarding the ship have become almost impossible to fix.
But we’re here to show you that cruise cabin upgrades are totally possible. In fact, we’re living proof of this, as we’ve scored free balcony upgrades on about half of the cruises we take!
We got cruise cabin upgrades to balcony cabins that were five times the price of the small inside cabin we booked, completely free of charge! This doesn’t always work because in many cases we were refused updates. And yet we managed to get free balcony upgrades on about 50% of the many cruises we took – that’s a pretty good chance!
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Some might say that a free balcony upgrade on a cruise has become almost as elusive as spotting a mermaid while cruising. However, we are here to show that cruise modernization is still a very possible reality. In this post, we reveal our proven tactics, detailing how to get free balcony upgrades while on a cruise!
Before we get into all the details of our tips on how to get a free balcony cabin upgrade, first find out what happens behind the scenes that makes getting a free balcony cabin upgrade so difficult to achieve.
Cruise lines aggressively and strategically price their itineraries in an attempt to fill every cabin. Cruise lines are particularly interested in filling higher-margin balcony cabins. Stateroom conditions on cruises are closely monitored as sophisticated financial algorithms are used to adjust prices to lure passengers.
All this is being done in a grand attempt to fill the ships to capacity. Often, cruise lines manage to fill their ships. As a result, sometimes there are simply no balcony rooms available when a cruise ship departs. Therefore, in many cases these balcony cabins can be completely occupied. Therefore, a cabin upgrade during a cruise is simply not possible, either free of charge or paid.
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Cruise lines also understand that passengers are seeking to upgrade their cabins for free. So if there are rooms with a balcony available and you ask about it after boarding, you will likely be offered a balcony upgrade at an additional cost, rather than a free cabin upgrade.
If balcony cabins are still available a few weeks before embarkation, many cruise lines will try to entice guests with special balcony upgrade offers that can be purchased at discounted prices or auctioned after purchasing a smaller cabin. Cruise lines make a big attempt to fill up your balcony cabins before you even step foot on the boat.
Sometimes these can be decent deals that are certainly worth considering paying a nominal fee to secure an upgrade. We’ll discuss this a bit later. But we’re actually here to show you how to get your cruise balcony upgrade, not for a fee, but for F-R-E-E!
Before revealing our 10 tactics for free cruise upgrades, every potential cruise passenger reading this article should decide for themselves how much a balcony stateroom is worth to them.
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Is it worth spending time on vacation and looking for a free cabin upgrade? Is it worth paying an extra hundred dollars out of pocket to guarantee an upgrade before sailing? Only you can decide this yourself.
Finally, passengers on interior cabin cruises can head to the lido deck and enjoy the same views others enjoy from their balcony rooms. You simply won’t be able to wake up and enjoy the fresh views and relax in the comfort of your cabin’s balcony. It’s really nice to have a balcony cabin when cruising. But at what cost?
Is it worth a thousand dollars more to have a balcony? For us, the answer is usually no. However, it’s definitely worth your time and trying to get a free balcony upgrade. It might even be worth spending a hundred dollars.
Here are some considerations to help you decide whether a room with a balcony is worth it on your upcoming cruise.
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If you can’t justify the expense of this balcony cabin, read on. With a little strategy and a bit of luck, a free cruise balcony upgrade can become a reality.
Our top piece of advice is this: make sure you’ll be comfortable in whatever cabin class you book on your cruise. Then use some of these tactics to try and get your free balcony upgrade.
How to get a free cruise cabin upgrade 1) Take advantage of the free balcony upgrade promotion and how to find it
Sometimes cruise lines run special promotions on specific ships, routes and/or destinations, offering balcony cabins for the same price as an outside or inside cabin. You can try to sift through these deals year-round, but they can be common during “wave season” (around February-April) when cruise lines are most aggressive with pricing and promotions.
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Most often you will see upgrades to one category of cabins. This means you can book an ocean view cabin at the price of an inside cabin, or book a balcony at the price of an ocean view. If this promotion is combined with an additional benefit such as a drinks package, free tips or generous onboard credit, these can be fantastic deals worth taking advantage of.
Other times you can find inside cabins, outside cabins and balcony cabins for the exact same price. Of course you choose the balcony! This is another way cruise lines are using promotions to offer free balcony upgrades.
If you know a really good travel agent specializing in cruises, they may have immediately noticed promotions for free room changes.
However, cruise room upgrade promotions change frequently and can often be complicated. Free cruise upgrades often come with multiple stars, as some offers only apply to specific ships, dates, itineraries, etc. So you can simply take a look at what the current promotions are on each line. Every major cruise line has a website listing offers, potentially including a free balcony stateroom upgrade.
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Here are links to the promotions pages of all the major cruise lines so you can see if they are currently offering any free balcony upgrade promotions:
Even after purchasing a cruise, always remember to continue to monitor the prices for that cruise. Unlike airline tickets, if the price of your cruise drops, you can actually make changes to your booking to upgrade your cruise cabin class if there are price changes in your favor. You can also cancel and rebook to get a better deal if you find one.
For example, let’s say you booked a 7-day Caribbean cruise where interior cabins cost $600 per person and balcony cabins cost $1,000 per person. So you book an inside cabin because you don’t want to spend the extra cash on a balcony.
Even if you’ve already booked your cruise, keep an eye on the prices. If the price of a balcony cabin suddenly drops to $600, call your reservation agent immediately! If you make this call before the payment deadline, you should be able to move to this balcony absolutely free!
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Such cases happen more often than you think. The cruise lines themselves will NOT notify you of these price reductions. So it’s up to you to be alert to price fluctuations after purchasing a cruise cabin.
Please note that a free balcony upgrade using this method is only available if the upgrade is made before the cruise cancellation period, which is usually approximately 60-90 days prior to embarkation date. But it depends
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