How To Get A Cruise Room Upgrade: I Got A $7,000 Suite for $500
Updated: Mar 24
Cruising has become one of my favorite ways to vacation and upgrading to this $7,000 room for only $500 is one of the many reasons why. The question I’m sure you have is how can you do the same, and the answer is much simpler than you may think. We recently cruised on the Norwegian Jade, see my review of the ship here, and let's get into these tips! SAVE + SHARE this post for you and your family's next cruise.
Whether you are traveling with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Royal Caribbean, Carnival or any other cruise line, they usually have a bidding program that offers you the opportunity to upgrade your room to a higher level once you have checked in for your cruise. The way the bidding process operates is fairly basic. Within a few days of checking in you will begin to receive emails asking if you want to upgrade your room. There is normally a minimum amount that you can bid and a maximum amount that you can bid on each room. You can bid on multiple rooms at once and will only be charged for one room if your bid is selected. The bid is per person, just like everything else on a cruise. To upgrade to our suite I bid $250 per person, which resulted in the $500 total. Another important aspect of the bidding process is that once you bid you are in, meaning your card on file will be charged automatically if they accept your bid. No take backs! Now that you understand the basics, what are tips for getting the best upgrade at the lowest price?
Tip 1: Try to build up loyalty with a particular cruise line. When you travel with one cruise line frequently enough they will be inclined to give you an upgrade because they know it will only keep you coming back. Be sure to sign up for any of the free reward or loyalty programs being offered and get your rewards account number and always use it when booking your cruise. You can have rewards/ loyalty accounts with multiple cruise lines. I have accounts with Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.
Tip 2: Do not respond to the first offer. Getting a room upgrade is like playing the lottery with a strategy in mind. Upgraded rooms can be assigned until 3 days before your cruise actually departs. As the time to set sail gets closer, they will often drop the lowest bid they are willing to accept if they still haven't filled the vacant rooms. In my first email, the room I upgraded to had a minimum bid of $750 per person; that's $1,500! I only paid $500! As tempting as it is to lock in a bid, I suggest you wait until about 2-3 weeks before your sailing date to place a bid.
Tip 3: Book a room only a level or two below the room you plan to bid on. The cruise line is trying to get as much money as possible, so this is all very much a numbers game. If you book a basic room for $1,000 total and I book a club room for $1,500 total when the option to bid starts, if we both bid $250 per person to upgrade, that takes your total to $1,500 and my total to $2,000. I will most likely win over you because the cruise line will receive more money from me than they would from you. The caveat is if there are people trying to book your particular room, they may want to get you to a different room so they can sell more cruise packages and get more individuals on the ship.
Tip 4: Book popular rooms. This ties into tip number 3. I always book balcony rooms for two reasons. Firstly, my husband and I like the ability to step outside for fresh air without having to go up to the ledo deck, and secondly, because these are very popular room types. This means the cruise line is often trying to get people into my room type, which allows me to receive great offers to upgrade to club-level suites at an unbelievable discount. The total cost for my room was $3,000; the original cost for the club level 2 bedroom penthouse suite, had I booked it outright, would have been $7,000! I saved $4,000!
Tip 5: Book a room you like! At the end of the day book a room you like so you can still have an enjoyable trip even if you don't win the bid. I wanted to win, but I ultimately would have been fine saving the $500 had I not. I bid the lowest amount I could and figured if it was meant to be it would be. Set aside an amount you are willing to spend on the possibility of a bid and don't go above that.
Tip 6: Always keep in mind when you are traveling and the type of people who may be going after the same room type when considering your bid amount. Rickey (my husband) and I went on a Greek Cruise during the school year so there were not very many families with children on the boat, but there were lots of couples. For this reason, although I was planning to bid on the one bedroom penthouse suite, I ended up bidding for the 2-bedroom instead because that room's bid had a lower starting point. I imagine due to all the couples on the trip, the one bedroom suite was in much higher demand.
I hope this article was helpful and I wish you happy bidding! Do you have any other questions about the bidding/ upgrade process? Leave a comment and I will be sure to respond!
Want to see how our trip went? Check out our short vlog below.