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Old October 26th, 2001, 07:03 PM
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Default upgrades

Hi again! I have another question about upgrades. I have read many times that there is no rhyme or reason for the way upgrades are given. Do you think though that repeat cruiser are more likely to get an upgrade than first time cruisers?
Nancy O
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Old October 26th, 2001, 07:56 PM
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Default Re: upgrades

Hi Nancy,
There is no "real" rule for the upgrades, although these days we've been hearing a lot about them. Here is an article written by Tim Rubacky that explains the basic concept behind the upgrades:

<http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/cruiseguide/con-affairs/upgrades.cfm>
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Old October 26th, 2001, 09:04 PM
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Default Re: upgrades

Probably the least understood subject on cruise boards is that of upgrades. Here is what I’ve pieced together on the ‘how and why’ of upgrades. There are other types of upgrades, but this covers the basics.

There is a myth among some cruisers that individual travel agents can somehow influence an upgrade. While there are many reasons that upgrades occur, keep in mind that the cruise line's main motivation is profit. Your travel agent might be a great person, but the cruise line doesn’t give you an upgrade because they like you or your travel agent. They do it because it is economically profitable for them to do so.

There is the limited time ‘Free Two Category Upgrade’ at time of booking. These ‘upgrades’ are usually restricted to within a type of stateroom, i.e. inside-inside, outside-outside. If these were ‘true’ upgrades one would be able to move across the type boundary. You will rarely see these upgrades offered when a cruise first becomes available for booking and sales are brisk, but rather when sales slow, and/or for ‘unpopular’ ships or itineraries. Cruise lines have figured out that psychologically, consumers are predisposed to book if they think they are getting something for ‘free’ than if the line dropped the price according to supply and demand. When the upgrade offer is extended the line is in a win-win situation. They stimulate sales without having to drop the fare for those who booked before the upgrade offer - the price has not been reduced.

Most upgrades are given so that the line always has inexpensive cabin to promote. Usually the first staterooms to sell are the most, and the least expensive. When the least expensive are sold out, the cruise line would be left with trying to promote the mid-range priced staterooms, and they may be doing so against other cruise lines’ lowest prices. Consequently, they came up with the ‘Category Guarantee’ and ‘Run of Ship’ bookings. In these you pay for a category of stateroom and for the lowest category respectively, but are not assigned a room until very close to the sail date. The cruise line ‘guarantees’ you will get the category you paid for, or better. This gives the line the chance to sell the same inexpensive staterooms over and over, moving previous purchasers up into higher cabins. Indeed, some ships are built with this process in mind - the lowest categories have only three staterooms in them. They are going to sell more than these three; they just move the first purchaser up into the next category and so on. On some ships you can move up seven categories and still be in a stateroom that is identical to the one in which you started.

There is also the ‘Right Place at the Right Time’ upgrade. This kind of upgrade can happen for a number of reasons and all of them have to do with luck. Let's pretend that it is two weeks prior to sailing and someone calls the cruise line and cancels. They have a mid-priced cabin and the cruise line has already figured out the TBA assignments. The cruise line will do a ‘chain reaction’ upgrade. Category "B" cancels, so they move up someone from category "C", then move someone up to the now empty "C" from category "D" and so on. This does a couple of things: Four or five couples may be very happy that the cruise line likes them or their TA so much that they were offered a free upgrade. What’s really happening is the cruise line ends up with an inexpensive cabin to sell at the last minute. If they were to keep the category "B" cabin and sell it at a discount, they would be violating their own stated policy of having the best discounts on cabins sold months ahead of time. Soon, no one would buy ahead of time, but wait until the last minute to see what kind of deal he or she would get. A word of warning on this - The cruise industry is in a constant state of flux and lines have started offering staterooms at sale prices 'For New Bookings Only' after final payment is due and the cruise cannot be re-booked without incurring a cancellation penalty. Unless the price reduction is substantial, the savings on the new fare will probably not be greater than the penalty incurred. Booking early no longer guarantees you the best price.

There is an urban legend that you can walk up to a ship on the day of sailing and get on for next to nothing. The reality is that if you get on at all, you will probably pay a very low price for a very inexpensive cabin. Everyone knows someone whose brother's friend's mother-in-law's great uncle’s second cousin once went on a cruise for $4.99 and had the Owner's Suite. Remember, the cruise lines promise that if the price of your stateroom goes down, you can rebook at the new price. Technically, if they sell you a category ‘ABC’ cabin at a price that is less than the rest of the people paid, they could be hit with all kinds of requests for refunds. If they upgrade people so the only thing they have to sell on the date of sailing is the lowest price stateroom, discounting doesn't come into play.

The best way of increasing your chances of an upgrade is to book early, and book a low category or ‘Run of Ship’. However, always book the minimum category with which you will be happy. If you get an upgrade it’s the icing on your ‘cruise cake’; if you don’t, you won’t be stuck with a stateroom that makes you miserable because you gambled and lost.
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Old October 26th, 2001, 09:30 PM
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Default Re: upgrades

my only experience with upgrades was: we booked early, at least 14 months in advance. We booked an outside. 5 months before we were to sail, my TA calls and says we got upgraded to a baloncy. Do I know how she really pulled that off? No. I only know what she told me, that she begged them because this was our very first cruise and we were celebrating our anniversary. One upgrade.
Will I be as lucky next time for my graduation cruise? Most likely not, but then like Bumble Bee said, I did book into the category I knew would enjoy.
I think upgrades are mystical events.
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Old October 27th, 2001, 12:34 PM
Carole Dunham
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Default Re: upgrades

I've been cruising for over 40 years and I've yet to figure it out. I've received two upgrades in all that time. The first was on Princess almost 25 years ago. We got it at the pier. We'd sailed Princess 6 or 7 times by that point. Now I've sailed Princess 14 times and no more upgrades. Doesn't matter to me though. Upgrades isn't why I sail Princess.

The first and only time I sailed Carnival I received an upgrade at the pier although my travel agent told me she knew it was coming. So who knows. Just book the category where you will know you'll be comfortable. Then who cares.

Carole
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Old October 28th, 2001, 09:59 AM
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Default Re: upgrades

Thank you all for the infromation, it was very helpful!
Nancy O
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Old October 28th, 2001, 09:13 PM
denisemb
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Default Re: upgrades

One more upgrade story (well, actually two) in my 13 cruisin' experiences:

#1: Celebrity Century: 1st cruise with them, an inside to outside. Whoo-hoo! A great bonus.....but a very WEIRD outside: an L-shaped (tho extra-roomy) cabin where beds could not be configured into queen bed. I was traveling with my sister-in-law, so we enjoyed it immensely, but think it woulda put a damper on someone's honeymoon cruise {grin).

#2: 9/9 Grand Princess sailing: 1st cruise with them (hey, I like to try different cruiselines). We booked an aft AD mini-suite which offered covered/private veranda. Upgraded (marginally) to AB bow/midship with open veranda. Acceptable to us, but recognize that *others* may have preferred a covered balcony and would not considered it an upgrade.

Denise < --- books what she's comfortable with and enjoys the adventure if an upgrade appears by magic
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Old December 12th, 2001, 11:54 AM
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Default Re: upgrades

Hi..
We will be embarking on our 3rd Princess cruise in January.

The 1st cruise was to New Zealand/Austrailia.
We booked the category just below the mini-suites and on the day of departure we were upgraded to a mini-suite. It was dyno!!

The 2nd cruise was to China/Japan/Korea. We booked the same category and the ship was sold out so we never received an upgrade. We even asked the purser after we arrived.

And....for this cruise to South America we still booked the same category (just below the mini-suites).
We were just notified last night that we got a 2 category bump to
a full-suite!!!! YAHOO!!!

So, I guess the moral of the story...it's a crapshoot!
Jeannie
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