Why Are People Still Falling for these CRUISE CABIN TRAPS?

Why Are People Still Falling For These CRUISE CABIN TRAPS?

While many people think a cabin is not that important on a cruise because they don’t intend to spend much time in it, I know that cabin issues are the number one reason cruisers do not have a great cruise. I did a survey recently, which thousands of cruisers responded to, and a staggering four out of 10 cruisers said they had a cruise ruined or made less enjoyable because of cabin issues. Or as I would call, cruise cabin traps!

I’m going to reveal how you can avoid having a poor cruise experience because of your cabin. And you’re also going to hear how I disagree with some key cabin advice that other cruise bloggers and vloggers give.

Cruise Cabin Trap #1

The biggest trap and the reason most people end up having a less than optimal cabin experience is because of booking “guaranteed fares”.

Let me explain what a guaranteed fare is, and importantly why cruise lines absolutely love people booking them. This should be a big red flag in the first place. And why I never do this.

A guaranteed fare is where you don’t get to choose a specific cabin and just book one in a broad grade: Inside, Oceanview, Balcony, or a Suite and the cruise line chooses where they put you. Importantly, you have no say which and where, and may only find out which cabin you’ve got as late as embarkation day.

Cruise lines love it as they can then put people wherever they want. Filling cabins that people like me have chosen not to book as they are problematic or in poor locations. For example, underneath the nightclub, theatre, bar, noisy crew access areas, or in high traffic areas near the lift.

Why Are People Still Falling for these CRUISE CABIN TRAPS?


In my poll most people having a poor cruise experience from booking guaranteed fares. Like Sylvia who was allocated a cabin on Holland America Nieuw Statendam under BB Kings Blues Club with loud late-night music, Cody placed under Discovery Princess pool deck with scraping chairs from early morning, and Anne under the Windjammer Buffet on Royal Caribbean who said the only time not having disruptive noise was between 3 and 5 am!

I have found that while many bloggers and vloggers recommend or go for “guaranteed fares” because they say that they’re cheaper than those where you choose your own cabin, that’s not always true.

As I found, especially when booking early. I could choose my cabin for the same price as a guaranteed fare. I did that for future Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Celebrity Cruises.

Always check the difference in price, and if there is one ask if just paying slightly more to guarantee a cabin unlikely to have issues is better value. I think it is.

Cruise Cabin Trap #2

Another cruise cabin trap many fall for is another one that the cruise lines absolutely love: auto-upgrades.

This was the second biggest reason cruisers said led to their bad cabin experience in my survey. It was one I fell for early in my cruise journey with a terrible experience on P&O Cruises.

Let me explain this trap before telling you what happened to me. Usually when you book a cruise, you are by default opted in to accept an auto-upgrade. And most people stay opted in for one as think an upgrade must be a good thing.

You normally need to actively opt out of auto-upgrade, either by ticking a box if booking online or asking your travel agent or the line booking agent to remove the option.

I had not done that on a P&O Britannia Cruise and was moved from my carefully chosen balcony cabin mid-ship and lower down with cabins above and below me to an admittedly bigger deluxe one. But it was underneath the pool deck, which was so noisy from chairs and music.

Opt Out!

I met a family on that cruise who booked two cabins next to each other, as they were travelling with their teenage kids and did not opt out of auto upgrades. Both cabins were up graded but on different decks and opposite ends of the ship.

I also discovered through this that with an auto-upgrade none of us had the opportunity to accept or reject the new cabins and go back to the original cabin. We were stuck with those unsuitable cabins.

So, I always opt out of auto-upgrade and stick with my carefully chosen cabin, unless I am sure all the cabins above me are worth it. For example, on a recent MSC Virtuosa cruise I booked in their Yacht Club in an entry level suite. I checked suites above my grade, which were only a few and none had interconnecting doors, nor were above or below a noisy venue. So, I stayed opted in. Though wasn’t upgraded!

Cruise lines love auto-upgrades as it means if they have unsold higher cost cabins, including those in poor locations or problematic ones, they can shift cruisers up into those as it is easier to sell cheaper cabins that then become available.

Cruise Cabin Trap #3

The third key trap that I see people falling for is upgrade bidding. I won’t spend a lot of time on this as I have spoken about this in other videos.

But basically, what happens is close to a cruise the line sends out opportunities to bid for an upgrade. The cruise lines love this as they find they can entice people to pay more than they had planned for the cruise, and again frees up those lower grade cabins, which are easier to sell.

The trap here is the cruise line sets minimum bid levels which on checking are often the same or close to what it would be if I had booked that grade anyway, and so it is not really a great deal.

I have been on cruises and met people who’ve realised they did not get a great deal and paid as much or even paid more than if they’d booked that cabin in the first place.

On my last Celebrity Edge cruise, I met a lovely couple who bid for an upgrade into a beautiful two-level Edge suite and worked out they’d paid more than if they’d just booked it in the first place.

Also, what’s important is that if you bid you again usually have no say in the cabin, and you’re stuck with whatever cabin they put you in.

So before upgrade bidding, check what it would cost to simply upgrade in the first place!

Why Are People Still Falling for these CRUISE CABIN TRAPS?

Cruise Cabin Trap #4

This next trap is one I was reminded of thanks to a friend of mine who was looking to go on a Norwegian Encore cruise as a solo traveller. He was close to booking one of the solo cabins in their dedicated access-controlled solo cabin area.

However, he checked and noticed that even paying 100% solo occupancy surcharge he could get an ocean view cabin at a lower fare, as demand for the solo cabins had pushed those prices up higher.

Cruise lines use dynamic pricing which means that fares by cabin grade change as a ship fills up. And this can sometimes lead to some inconsistencies.

So, if say balcony cabins are in high demand the differential between that and an entry level suite that is selling less fast may be surprisingly small. I have found that while looking at booking a future cruise on Cunard where going into Grills grade, their mini and suites, versus a balcony cabin is not large in cost but the difference in cabin size and ability to be in a Grill restaurant versus the main Britannia dining is huge.

So don’t fall into the trap of assuming the difference between cabin types is enormous. It can be when a sailing goes on sale, but as cabins sell that could change a lot.

Cruise Cabin Trap #5

Another cabin trap I must remind you about, and one that I’ve also spoken about before is not asking for a better cabin if the fare goes down. While this is becoming more challenging as lines are trying to resist it, you should do fare tracking after booking.

I have an article on my website that shows you how to do that. Set it up and you’ll get alerts if the fare changes. If you find that the fare you paid has gone down for the grade that you’ve booked, ask to get a better cabin that matches what you paid.

In the past you could often get the new lower fare, but lines are increasingly putting in their terms and conditions that they will not fare match once we have booked. But I am still finding there is a good chance to get a cabin matching the new lower fares, as if fares are going down it means the ship is not full.

Don’t fall into the trap of not checking to see if you can get a better cabin for your money after booking.

Why Are People Still Falling for these CRUISE CABIN TRAPS?

Cruise Cabin Trap #6

One other key trap that I see people falling for is not complaining if you’ve got an issue with your cabin.

While the ability of the line to solve the issue is becoming more challenging because ships are sailing full, I have found that raising a problem with my cabin has mostly meant I get moved to a better cabin. Often surprisingly easily as I do believe lines know there are some “problem” cabins.

For example, I was on a Silversea expedition to Antarctica where I had booked an entry level ocean view cabin. It a terrible banging noise at certain times of the day. I raised it the Hotel Director and they moved me to a great alternative cabin without any noise. I discovered the people in the cabin next to me had the same issues and had also been moved.

Some argue this happens as I am known because of my channel, but I got a string of similar experiences from people left in the comments in the survey I mentioned at the beginning that raising the issue had got them moved.

Don’t be shy to ask and of course, ask in a firm but polite way. And, if the cruise lines can help you, they will help you. Don’t be one of the 4 out of 10 cruisers whose vacation is not perfect due to a cabin issue.




Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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4 Responses

  1. Mary Lou says:

    Helpful, thank you

  2. Sue Green says:

    We travelled on Celebrity Edge in March, chose our mid-ship Aqua class mini-suite (away from lifts, pool deck etc) and relaxed …. Until half way through the cruise when the sound of children running over the sky walkway day and night and staff dragging items over the deck for overnight spoiled it. We didn’t complain (after all, we had chosen the stateroom) but got straight on the phone to our travel agent to amend a future cruise on an Edge class ship!!!

  3. Dou says:

    Thank you for these great and helpful tips. Seems as if nothing is easy these days. Sad days when you have to ask for customer service. We all expect customer service.

  4. Ian says:

    Agree with all your points Gary. The guaranteed cabin is a huge trap and unfortunately I have noticed one cruise in particular in Australia doesn’t give the option of picking your cabin, just the class of cabin, As a result we will not sail with them.

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