I’m sure you’ve asked, just like we have on or shortly before embarkation day, “are there any cabin upgrades available?”
Recently, we’ve been seeing emails being sent from Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and Royal Caribbean shortly before a voyage is set to sail asking if the passenger would be interested in upgrading their room — auction style.
While at face value this seems to be a great idea, in reality, it can be a huge and costly mistake!
An example; we booked a single balcony cabin for two adults and one child (long story, our oldest daughter didn’t want to come on a cruise- COME ON!?!). The passenger fare included free gratuities, upgraded internet and was “free” for our child with the two paid adults. Overall – a pretty good deal in general. Mind you, we booked at “guaranteed balcony” – that for a slightly reduced cost, the cruise line would, shortly before the cruise date, tell us our cabin number, rather than us selecting at booking.
About two weeks prior to sailing, I received an email from NCL asking if we wanted to upgrade our cabin – enticing, YES… I immediately clicked on the email and then found myself at a menu of available upgrades.
So here we are- a listing of available concierge, mini-suite and owner suite options are available, each with the option to “upgrade” but with a slider requiring us to “bid” on the upgraded room.
Now the bid cost was for EACH PASSENGER who would be staying in the room; the “free” child fare was now removed! So for a simple upgrade from balcony to mini-suite, normally around a difference of $1000 for three passengers, the cost became a MINIMUM of $300 per passenger.
Again, that’s the minimum bid you could make- and after calling in to guest services, the agent recommended a bid of around $450-550 per guest.
Doing some simple math, quickly shows that the “upgrade” you’re getting isn’t that great of a deal! In fact, you may be paying more than current rate if you had booked the mini-suite directly.
When I started to look into things in greater detail, reading the fine print, things got a bit more interesting…
- No guarantee of upgrade- ok, I can handle this, after all it’s a bid and the potential of an upgrade.
- Free passenger fare is removed as part of new upgraded cabin.
- Free extras like gratuity, dining, etc may be removed.
So really, how “great” of a deal is the upgrade?