Sunday, July 27, 2008

Getting upgrades on your cruise

I get questions from our clients or prospective clients and also other sources. Today there was one that I thought was interesting and worth sharing my thoughts on. Here is the response as I posted it and the question:

How do you get a free upgrade when cruising? Should I book through Orbit's or the cruise line?

First off, I have my own thoughts on upgrades. Most of the time, to me as a professional, upgrades are a marketing scheme.

Going from an inside to an inside or oceanview to an oceanview to me is not really an upgrade. Sure it is a higher category and would normally be a little more cost if booked into that category, but it really is just a different deck, It's still the same "type" cabin. Now going from an inside to oceanview or oceanview to balcony would be a true "upgrade" in my opinion.

So to answer your question, there is no way to guarantee an upgrade and any agent who tells you that is simply lying (unless they are paying for it for you). The cruise lines offer it to fill cabins and when the promotions say 2 cat upgrade, it's simply that they are not gettiing people to book into the category they are moving you to so it is marketing. It's like car dealors offering $1000 cash back. Are they really giving you cash back or do they have it built into the price already or giving you less of a "discount" then they would without the $1000 back?

Is it a bad thing for you to get a cat upgrade when booking if that is the promo? No. You are still getting a higher category without the higher cost. But I think the question is more about after booking than when booking the cruise.

Another way people get upgraded is again due to marketing. Lets say they have cabins available on the ship and using a 1-10 scale (1 lowest), they have cabins in category 4 available. Cat 4 is a higher cost than cat 1,2, or 3. they would rather be able to advertise the lower price but they first have to move people out of the lower cat so they actually have it available to sell.

Booking a "guarantee" basis can also get you an upgrade (their idea of one anyway for the same reason above). On a gty, you are getting what you pay for or better. Using Carnival for example, booking a cat OV (oceanview gty) means a minimum of a 6A which is the lowest cat oceanview. Normally the OV costs a little less than the 6A so you do save money on the price of the cruise You get assigned a cabin at a future date when they see which ones they can not sell for the higher price.

But they might move you to a 6B (one deck higher) to free up the 6A to sell later on. Past passengers usually get priority in the "pecking order" of who gets upgraded and also those who booked earliest.

Lastly, booking with a cruise line direct will not help you get upgraded any more than booking with a cruise specialist or reputable agency. In fact, having an agent working for you, might improve your chances just a little. Cruise lines do like to take care of the customers of National Accounts since we give them so much business. It's still not a guarantee you will get upgraded but it doesn't hurt your chances either.

An having one person to work with throughout the process (before, during and after booking) is a big advantage for the consumer. You will never have that with Orbitz or any online company as they are really just order takers, they do not have the expertise or incentive to worry about you after you book. A cruise specialist is looking for repeat and referral business from you and becomes more involved to assure you choose the right cruise and get the best value for your money. they are your advocate and really do work for you.

So thanks to the person, whomever you are that asked this question in Yahoo. Maybe you will get to my BLOG one day and if you ever want a good cruise specialist to work with and for you, go to our website and get in touch with me. Be sure to let me know you are the one who asked this question. It just might get you a nice bottle of wine on the cruise we book you on.

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