Cabin Upgrades and VIP Status on Ships! Do They Exist?

7 Strategies to Obtain a Cabin Upgrade on Your Next Cruise

Is it really possible to receive a cabin upgrade on a cruise ship? Yes, it is. Please read about my experience on Cunard, one of my favorite lines.

We boarded Queen Mary 2, a majestic ocean liner, in Southampton, England, poised to enjoy a transatlantic cruise ending in New York City.

We were shown to our stateroom and it was lovely and spacious with an enclosed balcony to keep one from the elements. Truly very nice. We would be quite comfortable during our transatlantic cruise. I wanted to take photos of the other staterooms before they became inhabited and went to see the purser to see if there were photo opportunities. I will never forget this young man Roland, 18 years old, who showed us around. There was a penthouse suite and we were shown it for photographs.

We went to dinner and upon arrival back in our cabin there was a phone message. It was Roland, his message said, “I have good news. No, I have great news. Call me. I did and could not believe it! We were upgraded to the penthouse suite. Maybe it was because we were dressed up, maybe it was just luck.

About that suite: The Penthouse is approximately 758 sq. ft. Along with our private balcony, we enjoyed a king-sized bed and nine-pillows, concierge menu, a dressing area and a bathroom with bath, shower and Penhaligon’s toiletries. Amenities included a TV, illy coffee machine, complimentary mini bar, and a desk with personalized stationery. It also included the services of a private butler. Canapés arrived before dinner. That was an upgrade. If you would like to read more about this journey,

7 Upgrade Strategies

  1. Loyalty clubs do matter – Loyalty clubs do matter very much. Those with the most panache certainly may be the first ones offered upgrades, but you never know.
  2. Upgrade promotions – Contact your travel advisor as your departure date comes closer and offer to pay for an upgrade. If the cabin you desire is not sold, you may be offered a special price. See offers directly from the cruise lines here:
  3. Request or “guarantee” (GTY) cabin – What does that mean? At times your travel advisor may offer you the option of making a ‘guarantee’ booking. This means you may book a stateroom of a guaranteed category type (Interior, Oceanview, Balcony or Suite) on your chosen ship and cruise. However, the exact grade, stateroom number and location of the stateroom on the ship will be allocated by the cruise line (at their discretion) and at any time up until checking in at the port. Once your GTY stateroom has been allocated to you, no changes are available. Apply your OBC toward a balcony cabin, but – only once on ship can it be applied for upgrade.
  4. Dress up prior to asking for anything so that you look entitled to the upgrade you are requesting.
  5. Simply ask the purser’s office – Wait until day 2 and then simply ask, as there may be a cabin that was not booked or the guests may have had a last-minute change and the cabin sits empty.
  6. American Express Platinum Card – Many perks come with this card and be certain to use it to pay for your cruise. Your travel advisor will be keenly aware of all of your benefits.
  7. VIP List – Some travel advisors who have been in the cruise business for a long time know the way things work and little secrets. Ask your travel advisor if the line has a VIP list and if you merit that status.

In any case, it is your vacation, book the cabin you want and hope for a better arrangement through some of these cabin upgrade strategies.

Bon Voyage!

Warmest regards,


2 thoughts on “Cabin Upgrades and VIP Status on Ships! Do They Exist?”

  1. I took a group of 54 passengers once and we all got upgraded I was upgraded to a suite my outside passengers were upgraded to balcony’s and the inside was upgraded to outside plus they gave us a private party. Talk about perks plus my husband and I ate at the Captains table.


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