The “Guaranteed” Cabin

If you book a cruise cabin guarantee, you face two big questions:

  • Will I really save enough money to make the suspense worth it?
  • What are my chances for an upgrade?

If you book your cruise in a more traditional manner you instantly receive a cabin assignment, if you book a cruise guarantee cabin you only get a promise of a stateroom somewhere on the ship, in the same category you chose. There is also the possibility of an upgrade. The actual cabin will not be assigned until after booking; often a few weeks or days before departure.

The real risk is giving up the chance to pick your spot — midship, high deck, low deck, etc. If you don’t get that upgrade (and even if you do), you might end up with the oddball cabin no one wants because it’s a strange shape, under a noisy deck or a long trek from the elevator.

There is no similitude in the cruise industry; each cruise line has its own policy which includes how long you need to wait before you get your cabin assignment. But first, let u of s address those two important questions about booking guaranteed cabin.

Will I save money?

That question depends on which cruise line you choose. In some cases, even if you don’t get an upgrade, you can still save a few dollars. In other cases, there’s no real savings.

Among those that sell guarantee cabins at slightly lower fares are Royal Caribbean and Seabourn.

Those that permit guarantees, but the cost is the same as booking a cabin in that particular category include Crystal, Disney, and Holland America. You only get a deal with cruise lines in this group if you score that upgrade. Otherwise, you’ve simply gambled away your right to pick a cabin location.

Will I Get Upgraded?

Savings or no, the lure of the guarantee is the possibility of an upgrade. If you book a guarantee in a certain category that is full, you might get upgraded to an empty cabin in a higher category. However, someone else, perhaps a member of the past-passenger program with higher status, might get upgraded and you might get their cabin in your category. But, a guarantee passenger is more likely to be upgraded than someone of the same status who booked an allocated cabin at the same price.

Pros and Cons of Guaranteed Cabins

Pros Cons
1. Discount You maybe able to save anywhere from $50-$200 or more per person, depending on the sailing and category. 1. Cabin location You will not know where your cabin is located until it is assigned by the cruise line.
2. Upgrade It is possible that you will pay for the lowest category in your Cabin choice (ie. inside, OV, balcony, etc.) and you will be upgraded a few categories, and possible to the next tier. 2. Cabin choice Your cabin category and location is completely at the discretion of the cruise line. You may get a balcony, for instance, however it may be obstructed by a lifeboat or something else.
3. Getting a Cabin Sometimes a ship is pretty full, and these are the only cabins available. In essence its actually virtually sold out, but the cruise line will offer some guarantee cabins to ensure that “there is a head in very bed”. 3. Cabin assignment Your cabin may be assigned at any time, and in some cases you will not know your cabin until you are boarding the ship.

Should you book a guaranteed cabin?

That question can only be answered by a number of ‘ifs’:

  • If you know that you will be unhappy in certain areas of the ship or on certain decks, DO NOT book a Guaranteed cabin.

  • If you think you may be sensitive to the motion of the ship at any time, DO NOT book a Guaranteed cabin. The best cabin location for you is midship. In rough seas the forward and aft cabins can get quite bouncy.

  • If you will be frustrated not knowing your cabin pre-cruise, DO NOT book a Guaranteed cabin. The mental cost of pre-cruise anxiety is not worth a few dollars in potential savings.


  • If think you will feel comfortable and happy no matter where you are on the ship, go ahead and book a Guaranteed cabin. In that case the trade off of a cheaper cruise fare may be worth it. This would be especially true for folks who are repeat cruisers because you already know what to expect.

Have you ever booked a Guarantee cabin? Would you do it again? Please let me about your experiences and ask any questions in the comments section below.

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