The Guarantee Cabin Gamble - Is It Really Worth The Risk?

September 15, 2015

Thousands of people every year will take the plunge and book a guaranteed cabin for their cruise holiday. Are they doing the right thing though?

Will they get upgraded?

Will they be disappointed?

Does it seem like we’re talking in a foreign language right now?

If you’ve ever gone shopping for a cruise holiday chances are you’ll have come across the term ‘guaranteed cabin’. If you weren’t quite sure what it meant or even if it was a good idea or not then read on for our definitive guide to guaranteed cabins (and whether they’re worth the risk)…


What is a guarantee?

First off we should probably take a second and explain exactly what a guaranteed cabin is, as the phrase itself is actually a bit of a misnomer. The cabins aren’t really guaranteed at all!

Most people, when first booking a cruise will decide on what kind of cabin they want; inside, outside, balcony or suite. Once they’ve settled on that they’ll look at the deck plans to see where the different cabins are located and pick one. Seems simple enough, right?

Where it gets complicated is when the cruise lines introduce special offers or discounted pricing. Quite often, to get access to these cheaper prices, you’ll need to book what’s known as a guaranteed cabin.

You choose a guaranteed inside, outside, balcony or suite cabin which means you’re guaranteed a cabin within that grade but it could be anywhere on the ship.

So if you booked a guaranteed balcony cabin you’ll save yourself some money off the standard balcony price but could end up with any balcony cabin on the ship; at the front, aft (rear of a ship) or in the middle.

It’s the grade of cabin you’re guaranteed, not the cabin itself. Booking a guaranteed outside cabin will mean you won’t be put in an inside cabin, it will be outside (or better – but more on that in a bit).

Inside cabin


Why do it then?

So why do people book guaranteed cabins you may ask, especially if they could find themselves anywhere on the ship?

Well to start with there’s the discount on the price we mentioned. Quite often it can be a big discount as well!

Believe it or not we’ve sometimes seen the price of a guaranteed balcony cabin being less than the price of an inside cabin if you wanted to choose your cabin number!

The other big factor in most people’s minds is the chance of a free upgrade….

You see, cruise lines don’t just offer guaranteed cabins out of the goodness of their hearts; they do it so they can fill those awkward cabins that people wouldn’t normally book.

They’ll also want to be able to offer these cabins for as cheap as they can; in the industry it’s known as a lead in price… You’ve probably seen them yourself; Cruises: Now from £XXXX

If all the inside cabins on a cruise are sold this means the cruise line would have to offer a more expensive lead in price. To avoid this they’ll take a number of people booked in a guaranteed inside cabin and upgrade them (for free) to an outside cabin. Then they’ll take some people in guaranteed outside cabins and upgrade them for free to balcony cabins; and so on and so on.

This means the cruise lines get to offer a cheap price when advertising their cruise and you get the chance of being upgraded for free!


If it was that good you may now be wondering why everyone doesn’t take this option.

Well there’s a couple more questions you need to consider first….

Oceanview Stateroom


Will I save money?

The easy answer to this is yes you will. Booking a guaranteed cabin will always be cheaper than choosing your cabin number.


Will I be upgraded?


Sorry but there’s no easy answer to this; that’s why we called it a gamble!

Yes you might get a free upgrade (and that’s great) but you have to remember you might not, so don’t book expecting one. Always book the grade you’d be happy with and consider anything else an extra bonus.



What are the downsides?

As you can imagine there are several downsides to booking a guaranteed cabin and it’s only fair we mention these as well.

Under no circumstances will you be able to choose where your cabin is. This may sound obvious but it’s worth remembering as some people always try to switch if they don’t like the cabin they’re allocated (you’re not allowed to do this).

You could end up with a cabin at the front of the ship, at the back, on the top deck or even the bottom. Your cabin may be above the theatre or next to a busy thoroughfare.

Remember, the cruise lines offer these guaranteed cabins to fill the awkward locations so your chances of getting a ’prime’ location midships will be greatly reduced.

It might not be a good idea if you’re traveling as a group!

It doesn’t matter if you book two guaranteed cabins at the same time, whether it be one for you and one for your children or even as two couples, they won’t be next to each other (unless you’re very, very, very lucky).  You could end up on either end of a deck (or on different decks completely!)



So is a guarantee right for you?

Ultimately of course it’s up to you. You need to consider the pros and cons, decide if the benefits (a cheaper price and a possible free upgrade) outweigh the downsides (not knowing where your cabin will be till you board and finding it isn’t in a great spot) and then book.

Out advice would be to go for it and save some money (which you can then put towards your next cruise!) unless you have to have a specific cabin for some reason; you may be traveling as a group; you may get seasick and need a midships cabin, you may need to be close to the lifts etc. etc.

Pick what you’ll be happy with; if it saves you some money great and if, as an added bonus you end up with a free upgrade, well so much the better!

What do you think? Have you ever booked a guaranteed cabin? How much money did you save and did you get upgraded?

Would you recommend it for people that have never tried it before?


Let us know in the comments below…


Related articles:

Fourteen of the best insider tricks for a free cabin upgrade

11 of the stupidest reasons cruisers have given for a free cabin upgrade

Seven cruise ship cabins nobody ever books but are worth considering