What is a guaranteed cabin?
Most people booking a cruise choose to select their specific stateroom (cabin) when they make their reservation and pay the initial deposit. There is another option. You can book a “guaranteed stateroom” which guarantees you a stateroom in the category that you purchased. The room is not assigned until some future date (which varies by cruise line).
What are the advantages of a guaranteed cabin?
Why would people opt for a “guaranteed stateroom” versus selecting a specific cabin? Because if you reserved a “guaranteed cabin” and that entire category of cabins sells out, the cruise line will bump you up a category or categories until it can find you an available stateroom.
But there is NO guarantee you will be upgraded, and not all “guaranteed cabins” are created equally. There can be a variety of other factors that can affect whether you get upgraded and how much you get upgraded, including membership in the cruise line’s past guest program.
Also, remember each class of room (suites, balcony or verandah, ocean view, inside cabin) typically have several categories. So if you book a “guaranteed stateroom” at the lowest category for an “Interior cabin” on the Allure, there are 7 interior categories that would have to sell out before you would be bumped into an outside view cabin. If those categories do not sell out, you will still be in an “Interior stateroom.” Also, be aware that you might be upgraded right under the disco, weight room, or under the pool deck.
Sounds great, what are the risks?
So is it a good risk to book a “guaranteed” reservation? It depends. First, do not book any category that you would be unhappy with if you didn’t get bumped up. There is a good chance you will not be bumped up, so make sure the category you select will be adequate for your needs.
Be aware that some cruise lines, but not all, offer “guaranteed cabins” at a small discount – Costa, Carnival and Cunard for example. Second, if you want a specific location on the ship, don’t book a “guaranteed” reservation. If you are particular about wanting a certain deck level or being mid-ship, just book the specific room as your chances of getting exactly what you want with a “guaranteed cabin” is very limited. If you are adventurous and flexible, but want on outside cabin, book the lowest price guaranteed outside cabin and see if you get bumped to a higher category, just don’t count on it.
For me, I always research the ship to find the best location for me (which is what your travel agent can do for you), and then select my preferred cabin so that I can avoid a bad location.
If you have specific preferences don’t play the “guaranteed cabin” game, select the stateroom you want. If you want to be adventurous and try to save a small amount, select the lowest price category that you could enjoy. Most importantly, understand the cruise lines are not required to upgrade you. All they have to do is give you a cabin in the category for which you paid.