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?
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.
Why Do it Then?
So why do people book guaranteed cabins?, 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 so they can fill those 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. 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….
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?
There’s no easy answer to this; that’s why we call it a gamble!
But yes, you might get a free upgrade (and that’s great) but you have to remember you also 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?
There are only a couple of downsides to booking a guaranteed cabin. The first being, you will not be able to choose where your cabin is. This may sound obvious but it’s worth remembering as some people try to switch if they don’t like the cabin they’re allocated.
Your cabin may not be in your ‘ideal’ location, e.g. front/back of the ship, top/bottom deck. Your cabin could be near busy locations such as the theatre, your chances of getting a ’prime’ location midship will be reduced.
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, there is a good chance they won’t be next to each other (unless you’re lucky).
So Is a Guarantee Right For You?
Ultimately of course it’s up to you. You need to consider the pros and cons, and decide if the benefits of a cheaper price and a possible free upgrade, outweigh the downsides of possibly not knowing where your cabin will be till you board and find out it isn’t your ideal spot.
But our 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 travelling 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 about guaranteed cabins? Is it worth the risk? Have you ever booked one before?
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