5 reasons to turn down a cruise ship cabin upgrade

Oct 27, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Turn down a cruise cabin upgrade? You all must think I’m crazy. And you’re right – if a cruise offers me a free suite, I’m certainly not going to say no.

The sad truth is free upgrades are rare. The days of surprise upgrades from your cozy inside cabin to a spacious balcony room are mostly over. Nowadays, cruise lines expect you to pay for your cruise ship cabin upgrades. Free upgrades, when offered, are hardly ever as good as they sound and are typically from one room to another within the same cabin category.

If you’re going to pay good money for an upgrade, you better be positive that your new digs are much better than the original room you picked. If they’re not, tell the cruise line they do not have a deal. Here are five reasons to turn down a cruise ship cabin upgrade.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s free cruise newsletter.

You can’t pick your cabin location

An upgrade is essentially the same as booking a guarantee cabin — a type of cabin where your cabin category is guaranteed, but your specific room location is not. You agree to let the cruise line pick your cabin in exchange for giving you a discount on that room. You give up the right to control where on the ship your cabin is located.

If you’re prone to seasickness and prefer a midship cabin on a lower deck, you might not want an upgrade that could land you at the very front or back of the ship where it’s rockier. If you’re sensitive to noise and specifically chose a room far away from the elevators and the noisy Lido Deck, you will want to say no to a cabin upgrade that can’t guarantee a quiet locale. Travel groups that purposefully booked rooms near each other should not accept upgrades that would split them among different decks.

RELATED: 8 cabin locations you definitely should avoid 

When that cruise ship cabin upgrade offer arrives, think about how strongly you feel about where your cabin is located. If location is important, you will want to turn down the upgrade offer.

It’s too expensive

Not all cruise cabin upgrades are free. Typically, the cruise line will offer the upgrade at a discount, meaning you’ll pay less for the upgraded room than it would cost to book it outright, but more than what you paid for your original cabin.

No matter how good a deal that seems, if money is tight, don’t take the upgrade. Save your vacation budget for tours and shoreside fun or onboard treats like date-night restaurants and fun cocktails. After all, you’ll get a bed and bathroom no matter which cabin you choose, but you won’t have as much fun if you have no budget left to spend once you’re onboard.

You booked a specific cabin type

Some travelers need specific cabins. Cruisers who use a wheelchair or have mobility difficulties purposefully book accessible cabins with roll-in showers and wider doorways. Families may book connecting cabins or designated family-friendly rooms with an extra bathroom or that can sleep five or six. Wellness enthusiasts book spa cabins for their Zen-like décor and thermal suite perks.

If you have booked a specific type of cabin for a reason, do not accept an upgrade offer. Usually the cruise line cannot guarantee they will upgrade you from one accessible or spa cabin to a nicer one. In addition, upgrade offers apply to a single cabin, not a pair of connecting rooms.

An accessible cabin on Princess Cruises' Majestic Princess
An accessible cabin on Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess. (Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Accept the upgrade, and you will lose the amenities you carefully chose when you originally booked. You do not want to pay more to find yourself in a room that does not meet your needs.

You might not get all the perks

Complimentary perks are a popular booking incentive used by several cruise lines. Depending on the type of cabin you book, you’re rewarded with onboard credit or your choice of several freebies, such as an included drinks package or shore excursion credit.

When you accept an upgrade offer, you won’t get the booking perks associated with the higher-category room (though you will receive any room-based perks, like concierge access or priority debarkation). Worse, you could actually lose the perks you already have.

RELATED: The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship

How? If you booked a cruise and then notice that prices have fallen, you can give yourself an upgrade by rebooking a nicer cabin at a lower price. In doing so, you will often lose your previous booking perks and be eligible only for the current promotion. For example, if you booked a promotion offering free Wi-Fi and $100 onboard credit, but the current offer focuses on low prices and a $50 onboard credit, you will lose the Internet package and half the onboard credit when you rebook to upgrade your cabin.

Decide whether the trade-off between a nicer cabin and your existing booking perks is worth it. If not, don’t go for the cabin upgrade.

The upgrade isn’t good enough

You should only say yes to a cruise cabin upgrade if it will get you a nicer cabin. But what a cruise line deems a better cabin might not actually be worth more money in your eyes.

For example, cruise lines break down all the cabins within the same category (for example, all outside cabins) into subcategories, based on location, layout, size and perks. A midship inside cabin on an upper deck might be deemed more desirable and priced higher than an inside cabin on a lower deck at the back of the ship.

A cruise line might offer you a same-category upgrade, moving from one balcony cabin to a “better” balcony cabin, rather than to a mini-suite. If you don’t care about cabin location, don’t take the cabin upgrade. You’ll end up paying more for a room that’s essentially the same as the one you booked for less.

If the upgrade is free, or if the new cabin comes with extras you will use (such as concierge access or spa perks), then consider saying yes. But if the cost of the upgrade is not worth whatever benefits the new room has, politely decline the cruise cabin upgrade.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Featured photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.