Auctions for cruise vacations have all but fallen by the wayside. Those who like a game of chance, however, still can name their price for better ship accommodations. Cruise lines are encouraging select cruisers to bid online for cabin upgrades, and there are deals to be had.
These programs are relatively new. Norwegian introduced its Upgrade Advantage Program in 2017. Royal Caribbean followed in late 2018 with RoyalUp. In 2019, Celebrity Cruises introduced MoveUp and Azamara launched Azamara Upgrade.
Negotiating these silent auctions is part luck and part skill, but the results can be amazing. For examples, blogger Chris Gleason of Top Dog Trips snagged an upgrade from a mini-suite to a two-bedroom suite in The Haven for his family of four, bidding $3,500. With his successful bid, he paid just more than $9,000 for a nine-day Baltics cruise on Norwegian Breakaway, a savings of $5,000. It was "a steal," he says.
If you're interested in bidding on cruise cabins to snag a deal, here's what you need to know.
- All bids are per person, based on double occupancy -- regardless of how many people are sharing the cabin. If you bid $200, you are committing to $400. This works great for a family of four; you only pay for two people for the upgrade. It does not work for a solo traveler.
- When you commit to an upgrade, you lose your ability to choose a specific cabin and location. You take what you get. An exception is if you qualify to bid for specific suites. If you're choosy about location -- you want to be midship for more stability -- upgrading might not be for you.
- If you are traveling with a group or have connecting rooms, there's also no guarantee everyone in your group will get an upgrade offer nor that your cabins will be together should you win the bid.
- The cruise bidding process does not work for those who have booked a wheelchair-accessible cabin as you won't be guaranteed those rooms.
- The upgrade may come with extra charges. You will be charged for gratuities based on your upgraded cabin category, and the price of your travel insurance may also rise.