If you are booking a cruise, you may see the term “Guaranteed Cabin” as an option when booking.
You may be wondering what this actually means, and is it something you should consider? In this article, we explore guaranteed cabins and look at examples of guaranteed cabins I have been allocated.
I always book guaranteed cabins when given the option.
What are Guaranteed Cabins?
A guaranteed cabin is when you book the category of stateroom (inside, balcony etc), but not the location of the specific cabin. You are guaranteed to get at least the grade you booked. You can book guaranteed insides, guaranteed outsides or guaranteed balconies/suites.
Guaranteed Cabins are normally the cheapest option when booking a cruise.
The cruise line will assign your cabin just before sailing or on departure.
You are guaranteed to get at least the grade you booked – if for example, you booked the lowest grade of inside cabin, you might find yourself upgraded to a better inside cabin or an ocean view at no extra cost.
How Much Cheaper is it to Book a Guaranteed Cabin?
It’s usually around £50-£100 ($60-$120) cheaper per person per room to book a guaranteed cabin instead of selecting your specific cabin location.
It isn’t a huge amount, but if you, like me, really don’t mind either way, it can be worth saving the money.
Should I Book a Guaranteed Cabin?
A guaranteed cabin may suit you if:
- You are on a tight budget – Guaranteed cabins are often available at a lower price-point compared to choosing your own cabin.
- You are not fussed about being in a certain type of cabin – Some cruise lines may restrict certain cabins or locations from being available as guaranteed cabins. If you have your heart set on a specific cabin or location, you should book it directly.
- You are not travelling with family or friends, or you don’t need to be close to them – As the cruise line assigns the cabins based on availability, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be assigned cabins together. I recently cruised with family and we had cabins spread across decks 4, 8, and 15!
- You have a sense of adventure! You may find a cabin that pleasantly surprises you.
The way that I look at it, you are not going to get a worse cabin than you paid for – and it might be much better!
Below is the cabin I was assigned onboard the Queen Mary 2.
My guaranteed cabin onboard the MSC Seaview.
The Drawbacks of Booking Guaranteed Cabins Are
- You may be given a cabin right at the front or right at the back of the ship.
- The cabin you’re given may be close to a late-night venue like a nightclub or theatre.
- You may be given a cabin grade that you wouldn’t have booked.
I have had all of the above happen to me, as guaranteed cabins are usually the leftover cabins.
The below shows the cabin I was assigned when I booked a guaranteed cabin onboard P&O’s Iona. I was upgraded to this conservatory cabin that looks onto the promenade deck but many people do not like this cabin and wouldn’t consider it an upgrade.
Am I Likely to Get An Upgrade if I Book a Guaranteed Cabin?
There is no guarantee of getting an upgrade. It depends on a number of things:
- How full the ship is – there may not be other cabins available.
- Who the cruise line are – some cruise lines seem to upgrade more than others.
- Do you have a loyalty status with this cruise line? If so, you might be more likely to get an upgrade.
You may find that if you have been upgraded to a better cabin free of charge, you won’t necessarily get the extra perks that that particular cabin grade normally offers.
The below cabin is an inside cabin I had onboard the MSC Seaview. The ship was only 23% full but I didn’t get a cabin upgrade so an upgrade is far from guaranteed!
Personal Experiences of Booking Guaranteed Cabins
My family often book guaranteed cabins – once my brother and I were old enough to not have to be in the next-door cabin to our parents!
We sometimes ended up at separate ends of the ship, on decks far apart.
I Booked a Guaranteed Cabin With Cunard – With a Great Location!
In 2016 I took my first Cunard Cruise, and the culture shock spurred me to start my blog.
We had booked two Guaranteed balcony cabins. They turned out to be two matching cabins, on the same deck but on different sides of the ship. This was great – whichever side was best for the sail-ins and sail-outs, we went to that side of the ship!
The cruise cost £899 ($1064) per person for the week, including flights and transfers from the UK.
My Parents Had a Great Experience Booking a Guaranteed Cabin With MSC
In October 2022, my parents booked a guaranteed inside cabin on a five-day Mediterranean cruise. The ship was The MSC Seaview, and the fare was £227 ($268) per person – including gratuities!
A few weeks before (despite being bombarded with emails inviting them to pay for an upgrade) they received an email allocating them a balcony cabin on deck 13.
They have loyalty status with MSC, which MSC loyalty matched from NCL. The cabin allocated was in the middle of the ship and didn’t have a restricted view of any sort. They certainly got their money’s worth!
If you are cruising with MSC, make sure you check out this guide and match any status you may have: MSC Status Match – Step by Step Application Guide and Chart
I Booked a Guaranteed Cabin With Marella – Upgraded!
On Marella Explorer 2 we got an upgrade from a guaranteed ocean-view cabin to a balcony. It was a fully inclusive cruise, with flights, transfers, and gratuities drinks – and cost £539 ($640) per person.
Have I Ever Regretted Booking a Guaranteed Cabin?
I’ve never regretted booking a guaranteed cabin despite often being given cabins in locations that would be considered ‘bad’. I’ve been right at the front of the ship, right at the back of the ship, under nightclubs, above theatres. Everywhere!
With most cabins even if there is something that is annoying like late-night noise, it usually comes with a benefit I didn’t expect like a central location.
Would I Recommend a Guaranteed Cabin?
Overall, guaranteed cabins can be a great way to save money while still enjoying all of the amenities and activities offered on board, but they may not be the best option if you have specific requirements.
I wouldn’t think twice about booking a guaranteed cabin, but fully appreciate it isn’t for everyone!
If you like the certainty of knowing which cabin you will have in advance, and its position on the ship, don’t book a guaranteed cabin!
If you aren’t fussy, and like a potential bargain – why not give it a go?!
A travel agent is the best person to help you decide on decisions like cabins, often they’ll suggest options you may not have thought about, like our aft cabin on Emerald Princess.
The cabin mentioned above:
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