Cabins come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. We always book a cabin with a balcony for several reasons. First, we like the privacy a balcony affords. Depending on the ship and passengers, the balcony may be one of the few quiet places on board. Usually, though, other quiet places can be found..if that's what you're looking for. There's surely always a party going on someplace with a gathering of other passengers looking for fun too. First is some general information about the various cabins on Carnival ships. Scroll down for information specific to Princess ships
If you received your confirmation from us and it says "TBA" (To Be Added) where you cabin number should be listed, you have an unassigned cabin. The cruise line will give us that number later, closer to sailing, usually after final payment has been made.
Many passengers know what cabin they will be in before they board. Others book "guaranteed"cabins with the location to be added (TBA) by the cruise line later.
What this means is that they book a cabin that is in a particular category, (that's the guaranteed part) but it could be anywhere on the ship. The tradeoff for this not knowing where you'll be is that you get a chance to be "upgraded" to a higher (and more expensive) category cabin at no additional charge. You will never be downgraded. Chances are if you book a lower category guaranteed cabin that you will be upgraded.
The most common upgrade is to be upgraded to a "better" cabin within the category you have already paid for. (Like from a Category 4A to a 4D) This commonly means a higher deck, under the belief that higher is better. Technically the "best" part of the ship is the dead center of it in relation of the front to back and side to side. Think of a teeter totter. The people sitting on either end move up and down a lot. The center part moves very little. The same basic theory applied to cruise ships in the olden days when they might be tossed about by rogue waves in uncharted seas.
Today, huge stabilizer bars that extend out the side of the ship under the water line reduce that sort of movement to a minimum. In fact, on most ships you will probably have to look outside and see the ocean rolling by to know you are moving at all.
If you booked a guaranteed cabin prior to 9/11 security measure implementation, you may found out your cabin location as late as when you reach the pier upon embarkation. The porters there would have a manifest of all the cabins and all the lucky winners (or not) and be able to help you re-tag your bags with the appropriate information to insure that yours get to your cabin. But most guests these days find out this information much earlier, usually some time between when final payment is made and 7 days prior to sailing.
But why would the cruise lines let us pay for a less expensive cabin and give us a more expensive cabin anyway?
In the cruise line business, much like the hotel business, the name of the game is occupancy. The cruise lines live and breathe to fill the ships and will do so using a number of strategies. One strategy is to offer bonus amenities on a particular sailing to entice us to book that one. Another is to offer free upgrades. But there is more than the notion of maybe getting something more than what we paid for at work here.
The cruise lines want every potential buyer to have a nice selection of cabins to choose from when making their buying decision. One party might want an inside cabin, another a balcony and yet another an Oceanview cabin. When they open a sailing for sale, they have a pretty good idea which cabins will sell first; the most expensive and the least expensive. But much of it depends on us. A given sailing might happen to sell mostly inexpensive inside cabins to begin with, limiting the number available to sell to others while more expensive inside cabin go unsold. In order to have that nice selection of all cabin categories for someone just entering the buying arena, the cruise lines will move up the guests who booked early and bought those first inexpensive inside cabins to a higher category inside cabin, making more space in the inexpensive category.
Are you with me so far? Basically a complementary upgrade means you get something for nothing.
So if you got upgraded or not might depend on just that. But when it comes time to dole out the upgrades there may be a limited number available. That's when they look at other factors to determine who gets the upgrade. Factors like what you paid, how long the booking has been made and/or past guest status are often considered. If your cruise was booked 6 months or more in advance you have time on your side and could stand to gain a substantial upgrade at no additional cost to you.
That is an important part of the whole thing.
If you wanted to be very mid-ship and on a certain deck, you may be better off doing what it takes (usually paying full deposit at the time of booking) to lock in to a specific cabin right up front. The up side of that is that you will know exactly where you are going to be on the ship as far in advance as possible. The down side is that on most lines it greatly reduces if not eliminates the possibility of a complementary upgrade.
Prime candidates for assigning cabins up front are those who need a specific location, say by an elevator because they don't want to have to stumble too far back to the cabin, handicapped cabins and suites. On some ships, cabins with three or more guests may be required to lock in to a specific cabin just because there are a limited number that will hold that many people.
These days though, most guests benefit from NOT choosing a cabin up front and realize a nice upgrade by the time they sail. Of course, the only thing guaranteed about a complementary upgrade is that there are no guarantees that it will happen