How to Get Carnival Cruise Line Room Upgrades

Which Carnival cabin will you be assigned?

Savvy cruise passengers may find that Carnival Cruise Line room upgrades can add extra value and enjoyment to their vacation plans, but counting on an upgrade is never a good strategy for a great getaway. There are different ways to increase the chances of an upgrade, however, and passengers can employ these tricks to aim for the best cabin their cruise fare can buy.

Carnival Cruise Line is the largest cruise line in the world, with more than 20 ships sailing throughout the world on dozens of different itineraries and to hundreds of different cruise destinations. On any single day there are more than 12,000 staterooms available on Carnival cruise ships, and passengers can choose the type of cabin that meets their needs and vacation plans.

About Carnival Cruise Cabins

Carnival ships have five basic types of cruise ship cabins:

  • Interior: These value-priced cabins are the smallest and most basic of any on board but include adequate facilities for budget-minded passengers.
  • Ocean View: With a view of the sea either through a window or portholes, passengers in these cabins won't miss a moment of the great scenery during their cruise.
  • Balcony: A small private balcony offers a restful retreat with these cabins. A small table and chairs are usually provided on the balcony, and the interior cabin furnishings tend to be more luxurious.
  • Suite: These cabins are larger than other categories and feature a separate sitting area and a private balcony.
Ocean View Cabin
  • Penthouse Suite: The most luxurious cabins aboard Carnival's ships, these suites are the largest cabins and have a walk-in closet and whirlpool bath that aren't found in other cabin categories.

Depending on the size of the ship and the arrangement of the cabins, additional features may be available such as adjoining rooms, upper and lower bunks, and corner cabins with wraparound balconies. Some cabins also feature obstructed views though the impact on passenger enjoyment is minimal.

Defining Upgrades

When inexperienced passengers define cruise cabin upgrades, they fantasize about paying the cheapest rate for an interior cabin and magically being upgraded to a luxurious suite. While such drastic upgrades are not entirely mythological, it is far more common for Carnival Cruise Line room upgrades to be made within the same category of cabin but moving a passenger to a more desirable deck - higher up, closer to the more stable center of the ship, or nearer to popular areas and amenities. In many cases, the upgrade does not make a difference in terms of the actual cabin space or furnishings, but passengers may enjoy a deck closer to the ship's public areas or better suited to enjoying all the cruise activities that are offered.

Arranging Carnival Cruise Line Room Upgrades

While room upgrades are never guaranteed, there are several tricks prospective passengers can use to increase their chances of being upgraded.

  • Travel Agent Promotions: Passengers who work with experienced cruise travel agents or an established travel agency may be able to take advantage of upgrades offered through those businesses. The agent may offer passengers a lower cruise fare with a "guaranteed" upgrade to a better class of cabin than if they made their cruise reservations through a non-participating agency. These offers are not upgrades in the traditional sense, but they are a good value for passengers interested in nicer accommodations.
  • Past Guest Promotions: Passengers who have sailed frequently with Carnival may find themselves in a better position for upgrades through exclusive past guest offers and discounts. Like agent deals, these "upgrades" come about by offering a select number of discounts to qualified passengers, effectively giving them a better class of cabin at a lower price.
Balconies are popular.
  • Guarantee Cabins: Passengers who book a guarantee cabin are not assigned a cabin number when they make their reservation. Instead, they are flexible with their Carnival cruise cabin assignments and position themselves well for an upgrade. Guarantee cabins are usually the lowest price, but passengers can be assigned cabins that cost more without incurring extra charges for the added luxury. Instead, what a guarantee cabin stipulates is that the lowest cabin in that category is the minimum assignment a passenger will receive, and in many cases their assignments are much better. Choosing to sail during off-peak months or on less popular ships also increases the odds of a substantial upgrade.
  • Asking for an Upgrade: Once passengers board a Carnival ship, they can check at the purser's desk (generally near where embarkation occurs) to see if there are any available empty cabins. While these are rare, if they are available interested passengers may be able to upgrade their cabin assignment immediately, though extra fees may be applied.
  • Unexpected Price Changes: If the price of the cruise is lowered after passengers have made their cruise reservations, they may be eligible for an upgrade. Other options may include on board ship credit or a refund of the price difference, but requesting an upgrade instead can lead to even greater savings.

Upgrade Warnings

Carnival cruise cabin upgrades are not a sure thing, and passengers who are anxious about getting a specific cabin assignment should not bet on being upgraded to the cabin of their dreams. Furthermore, groups that want cabins in the same area should avoid guarantee assignments that may separate cabins by several decks. Once those assignments are made, it can be very difficult to change them.

Carnival Cruise Line room upgrades are never a sure thing, but they do happen. Passengers who understand how upgrades are made and what they can do to influence them stand the best chances of securing a lower cruise price on a better cabin, upgrading not only their stateroom but their entire cruise experience.

How to Get Carnival Cruise Line Room Upgrades