5 Ways to Get a Cruise Ship Cabin Upgrade

 

A Verandah Suite on the Seabourn Quest Cruise Ship2013 Cruisers’ Choice Awards: Best Cabins
Unusual Cruise Ship Balconies
Best Cruise Ship Suites

We wish there were a magic elixir you could whip up to get a free or low-cost cabin upgrade on a cruise ship. We’d be chugging it all the time. But sorry — no can do. Even if there was, as Cruise Critic member Sail7seas wisely pointed out when we polled message board readers on how to nab upgrades, “Do ya really think we’d post it on a public forum?”

True enough.

If you’re sitting by the phone, waiting for the upgrade fairy to call, there are a few basic things to know about upgrades. First off, understand that cruise lines deem certain cabins better than others, even within the same cabin type (inside, outside, balcony, suite). An upgrade means you’re moved to a cabin in a better category than the one you originally booked. Does that mean you will relocate from the lowest inside cabin on the ship to a balcony suite? Yeah, right, and the upgrade fairy does have wings and a magic wand. More likely, you’d be moved to a cabin that’s very similar to the one you booked but is somehow better in the eyes of the cruise line (on a higher deck, in a more convenient mid-ship location, etc.). You might not notice a difference, but you can brag about being upgraded later.

Second, free upgrades — where your cabin is relocated to a better one at no additional cost — are fairly rare. “Free upgrades are more of what I consider a thing of the past,” says Melissa Gower-Pence, a group cruise specialist with Craft Cruises in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. More common are “upsells,” or upgrades for a reduced cost.

But if you’re still yearning for that upgrade, how do you get one? We contend the best way to land an upgrade offer is to hope and pray, because for the most part, there’s little rhyme or reason to who gets a bump. Member paul929207 nailed it on the head when he wrote, “If there was something you could do [to] get an upgrade, everyone would be doing it.”

Other Cruise Critic members echoed the same sentiment. “I have cruised more than 50 times on a variety of lines and itineraries and have only received one upgrade, so I really do think it is luck of the draw,” CRUISERTN wrote on our message boards. “We have had two upgrades in the past couple of years with Princess Cruises, but how and why we really don’t know,” Putterdude posted.

The agents agree. “There is no magic button, it’s not that common, and it’s always best to book the cabin in which you’ll be content,” says Jennifer Lennox, a Disney cruise specialist with the agency Off to Neverland in Keller, Texas.

That being said, Cruise Critic members do report some strategies that have increased their odds of getting offered an upgrade. Their best recommendations include these five tips — and one warning why a freebie upgrade isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

An Oceanview Cabin on Rhapsody of the SeasBook a guarantee cabin. A “guarantee” means you’re assured a cabin in the category you requested, but are not assigned a specific cabin until a short time before departure — usually a week, give or take. If you book a guarantee in a certain category and it’s full, you might get upgraded for free. On the other hand, someone else (perhaps a member of the past-passenger program with higher status) might nab the upgrade, and you’d get their cabin in your category. There’s no way to know. (Learn more aboutguarantee cabins.)

Member CraftyEC reserved a guaranteed Verandah Suite on a Seabourn cruise, which had six subcategories of cabins, all at different prices. “It could have been anything from V1 to V6, and we got V5, which would have cost us more if we’d chosen this.” How much more? To give one example, when Cruise Critic checked a V1 suite on Seabourn’s seven-day “Turkey and Greek Isles” voyage in August 2015 was listed as $4,999 per person; a V5 cabin like the one CraftyEC nabbed was $800 per person more.

Bottom line: Don’t book a guarantee in any given category unless you would be satisfied with anycabin in that category.

Pair of Carnival Cruise Ships

Cruise the same line often. Just like airlines and hotels reward their loyalty program members, cruise lines do, too. An important point to remember is that the more frequent the cruiser, the more likely he or she would be offered a free or paid upgrade. Merely joining a cruise line’s loyalty program won’t get you automatically upgraded — even after you’ve taken a handful of cruises. (Check out our guide to cruise line past-passenger programs.)

Cruise Critic member B-52, a Gold-level member (the lowest level) of Royal Caribbean‘s Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program, reported going online two nights before departing on a cruise to find a suite upgrade awaiting approval. A $35 fee was assessed “either for taxes or a suite room attendant — I’m not sure, but it did not matter. Paid it immediately and printed out a new Set Sail Pass!” B-52 wrote.

Complimentary upgrades are generally reserved for those in the highest echelons of loyalty programs — Crown & Anchor members who have taken at least 55 cruises, for example — but exceptions certainly happen.

A balcony cabin on MSC's Poesia cruise ship

Book a free upgrade promotion. Cruise lines occasionally offer special promotions in which two different cabin grades are priced equally — so if you book the usually pricier cabin at the lower-cabin cost, you’re theoretically getting a free upgrade. These “free upgrade” offers can either be for cabins within the same category type or from one category to another (i.e., outside cabins at inside rates or balcony cabins for outside prices).

When Dapaddo saw such a promotion, the Cruise Critic member jumped at the chance for an upgrade and ended up with a Spa Deck-level cabin with floor-to-ceiling windows, “and we didn’t have to pay anything extra.”

AceDoc monitors the Internet for such offers. But if you truly want the inside scoop on when such a promotion might happen, book your sailing through a travel agent who’s well-versed in cruising. “Travel agents get advance notice of promotions such as this and are then able to offer the upgrade to their clients,” said vacation specialist Renee Gerber with Cruise One in Woodstock, Maryland. You can also sign up for cruise line promotional emails to get notices of sales in your inbox. Check out Cruise Critic’s frequently updated cruise deals section, too.

Vacation CalendarSail during low-demand seasons. Ships tend to sell out during peak periods. But during slow times, they may set sail with some cabins left open. Those open spots thus create wiggle room to provide passengers with upgrades.

If your off-peak cruise isn’t full and the cruise line decreases fares in an effort to boost bookings, that’s a good time to ask your travel agent or cruise line representative for a free upgrade — especially if you’re not eligible for the price reduction.

“I watch prices before final payment is due,” geoherb wrote on the message boards. “On our last two cruises, we’ve been able to upgrade to better cabins at lower prices a few months before final payment. In one instance, we went from an inside cabin to an outside.”

What’s considered off-peak? The periods between Thanksgiving and Christmas and right after New Year’s often see fewer bookings, in general. For specific destinations, low seasons include: May and September in Alaska (when the weather is often chillier than in the summer), September through November in the Caribbean (peak of hurricane season, kids back in school), and early January and May in the Mexican Riviera (when young ones return to school after holidays). Find out more about off-peak times for your preferred cruise destination in our story, Best Time to CruiseFind an Off-Peak Cruise

Oasis of the Seas Jr. Suite

Just ask. You’re really rolling the dice with this one, but why not just ask? What do you have to lose?

“Maybe the secret is calling without expecting anything and being very polite,” said momoftwinteens, who once landed a free upgrade from an obstructed-view cabin to an oceanview cabin. She made the telephone call directly to Norwegian Cruise Lineafter noticing a price drop once her final payment went through.

Most free upgrade decisions are made by cruise line directors or other higher-ups in the revenue department. If you’re willing to pay for an upgrade, call your agent or cruise line about two weeks before departure, suggests Gower-Pence, the cruise specialist from Colorado. “These offers are on a first-come basis, and as the agent I act immediately because I know my experienced cruisers really want to take advantage of them,” she said.

But make sure you work with an agent who has experience in this arena. “I have found that some [travel agents] are better at this than others,” kazu said. “Some have relationships with the lines or know their workings. Others do not.”

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6 Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid

 

Cruise ship cabin hallwayYou might expect loud noises, close quarters and attention-grabbing maneuvers in the dance club onboard your cruise ship — but not in your cabin. Even if you don’t plan to spend much time there, it should be a restful and private place so you can maintain that much-needed vacation stamina. To help you do so, we’ve compiled a list of cabins you’ll want to avoid booking if closet-like dimensions or scraping chair sounds overhead don’t sound appealing to you. Heed our advice, and you might be feeling a bit less claustrophobic and a tad more refreshed come disembarkation.


Smaller than Small
Small Interior Cruise Ship Cabin
Sure, price is a major factor when booking your cabin, but give yourself the benefit of the doubt: Would you want your “home away from home” to be smaller than your own bedroom? To give you an example of square footage, the average master bedroom in an American household runs about 200 square feet. Carnival‘s standard inside cabins begin at a healthy 185 square feet, but beware of the line’s Category 1A cabins, which are oddly shaped and feature pull-out or bunk beds. In comparison, Royal Caribbean‘s inside cabins on Majesty of the Seas run 114 square feet.

“Inside” doesn’t mean one size fits all, so carefully read cabin dimensions before selecting. Also, check whether a balcony is included in the total square footage of the room — the added outdoor space might be nice but not if it’s being factored into an already teeny-tiny cabin.

It’s important to note that cabins on newer ships seem to be smaller than those found on their older siblings. For example, Haven suites on Norwegian’s Breakaway and Getaway are smaller than the suites on its Gem-class ships. Even if you’ve sailed a line before, don’t assume each ship will offer similar cabin sizes.


What a Lovely View?
Obstructed View Cruise Ship Cabin
If a view is important to you, make sure know what you’re getting a view of. An obstructed-view cabin category might cost less, but the quality of the vista varies from room to room. One view might be only partially obstructed, leaving most of the window occupied by sunsets over waves, while others artfully frame a length of lifeboats.

Passengers on Caribbean Princess vow that even cabins categorized as having a fully obstructed view still provide room for photo ops and oceangazing. It might be helpful to read the reviews of others who have stayed in the same cabin. The Cruise Critic boards offer thousands of reader reviews and feedback from cruisers across every line, making them a great place to start.


Ear Plugs Required
Loud Noises while trying to sleep in cruise ship cabin
One common rookie-cruiser mistake is not checking the deck plans before booking a cabin. It might seem obsessive to a first-timer, but locating loud and late-night venues could be a lifesaver when picking a place to rest your weary head.

Anything near a dance club, sports venue, lido deck or all-night eatery could mean throbbing bass, bouncing basketballs and the sweet sound of deck chairs scraping at 3 a.m. Even worse is the galley: bumping, rolling, shouting and stomping around the clock. Just because a venue shuts down at a certain hour doesn’t mean there won’t be commotion as it’s being cleaned.

It’s widely agreed that the best passenger deck to choose is one sandwiched between other passenger decks — you might run into noisy neighbors, but it’s unlikely they’ll have access to pots, pans or an industrial sound system. Additionally, a cruise line will be more equipped to handle a passenger noise complaint rather than a request to move your cabin on what could be a fully booked ship.

If your ship offers family suites (typically located near children’s facilities), keep in mind that families are likely nearby (read: the potential for screaming children). If you’d rather avoid the ambient sounds of a large family group, then perhaps it’s best to relocate away from that area entirely.

If you can, identify where crew service entrances are located — stories of slamming doors day and night are enough for us to check twice. And if the sound of footsteps keeps you up at night, don’t book a cabin nearby major promenades or staircases. Another potential peeve is the dinging of elevators, if you’re close enough to that area to hear them.

And don’t forget the cruise ship engine. While humming noises put some to sleep, the loud buzz of machinery might drive you batty. Passengers on the lowest deck are most likely to hear engine or even anchor sounds.

Privacy out the WindowCentral Park Balcony Cabin Oasis of the SeasA view is always preferable to no view, but be wary: Cabins that open onto a promenade deck offer little privacy, even with curtains closed. This was the complaint of one cruiser in an oceanview cabin on the lower promenade deck of Holland America‘s Volendam.

The line’s Lanai cabins boast sliding-glass doors with one-way views offering total concealment, but don’t forget to shut them if you’re planning a private moment; this isn’t your back yard.

Other cabins providing questionable seclusion include the mini-suites beneath the SeaWalk onRoyal Princess and Regal Princess and cabins facing the Boardwalk and Central Park areas on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. A passenger who stayed on the lowest level of the Central Park cabins reported having to keep their curtains closed for the length of the cruise because other passengers strolling through the park could see straight in.

Motion of the OceanStormy SeaRough seas or not, motion sickness can ruin a cruise vacation. If you know you have a history of motion sickness or even if you’re not sure, err on the side of booking a more stable cabin. By “stable,” we mean midship, closer to the interior and on a lower deck, where rocking motion is less likely to be felt.

A balcony room might seem enticing for the fresh air, but a location on the outer edges of the ship could make it more susceptible to movement. That said, visual contact with the horizon line is said to aid in reducing nausea as you bob up and down.

Rough waters can be anticipated by itinerary and the time of year you’re sailing. Generally, in the winter months, seas are rougher especially in the Atlantic. If you don’t have a stomach of steel, consider skipping cabins that could make you queasy. A deluxe suite at the front of the ship might come with all the bells and whistles, but you won’t be able to enjoy them with your head in the toilet.

What Kind of Guarantee?Several cabins to choose fromNot saying that guarantee cabins aren’t worth the gamble for an upgrade, but if you want assurance that you won’t be in a pitching, noisy cabin, these cabins aren’t the way to go. A guarantee cabin isn’t actually a type of cabin but, rather, a method of booking a cabin. You pick a minimum cabin level you’d be comfortable in, and the cruise line assigns you a cabin close to booking dates based on availability.

The potential for an upgrade is appealing, and if you’re cruising on a budget and don’t have a particular issue with any of the cabin dilemmas listed above, then it could be worth your while to see what a guarantee might deliver. But your guarantee also could place you squarely above the anchor, next to a crew entrance or below the theater. With guarantee cabins, you lose your ability to complain about what you end up with.

Guide to finding deals and booking a trip

Cruising 101: Guide to finding deals and booking a trip

Ready to take the plunge and book a cruise? Here’s a guide to the many booking options, from going directly to a cruise line by phone or online to using a cruise-focused travel agent. We offer tips on finding a good agent, how to find the best deals, how to choose a line and ship, how far in advance to plan a cruise, and the pros and cons of waiting until the last minute to book. We also explain such terms as a “guarantee cabin” and “Wave Season.”

How to book

There are many ways to book a cruise: direct from a cruise line; through an online or bricks-and-mortar travel agent; or through a third-party website like Expedia.com.

Using a travel agent

Most people book their cruise with a travel agent, especially first-time cruisers. There are good reasons for this:

  • Expertise. First, buying a cruise is a specialized purchase that requires a greater degree of understanding than other travel bookings. A good travel agent will offer expertise and experience, and most importantly, match your personality to the right cruise product. For example, agents can steer you and your kids away from a luxury line that caters to adults, or prevent your romantic getaway from being highjacked by a ship full of spring-break college kids.
  • No charge. Travel agents, especially those who specialize in cruises, do not charge for their services because they are paid a commission by the cruise line. (That can be both good and bad. If a travel seller seems unusually pushy about one line over another, it may be because he or she gets more commission from that line.)
  • Access to deals. Travel agents often have access to specials deals and savings, and can offer their clients perks and extras in the form of onboard credit, a free transfer to the airport, a complimentary meal in an onboard specialty restaurant or pre-paid gratuities. Furthermore, a good agent can cut through the clutter of deals out there, and let you know that a Caribbean cruise in early September looks like a great deal, but that’s because it’s hurricane season.
  • Cabin advice. Travel agents will also orient you to the dozens of cabin types some ships have. The world’s largest cruise ship, the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas, has 37 cabin categories, including industry firsts, such as inside cabins with balconies.
  • Troubleshooting. Finally, an agent will be your advocate if something goes wrong. While 99% of the time you won’t need to call your agent once the ship sets sail, unforeseen problems do occur (usually weather related). An agent often has some muscle with the cruise lines, which might be able to help get you home in a tough situation, and they will help you change your ticket if they see a snowstorm is coming.

Finding an agent

Finding a “good” travel agent, however, can be challenging. For one, there are literally hundreds of websites that sell cruises. Many people who book with an online cruise seller are not always aware that they are, in fact, buying from a travel agent. Follow these tips:

  • Use word of mouth. If you know someone who had a good experience, ask for a referral.
  • Look for their affiliations. Travel sellers can become accredited cruise specialists through the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Those agents can achieve up to three levels: Accredited (ACC), Master (MCC) and Elite (ECC). That means they have completed a training program on various cruise products and are required to sail and inspect a certain number of ships. They must also make a certain number of annual cruise sales, demonstrating their experience in working with customers and selling travel. To find a CLIA-certified agent near you, go to the Cruise Expert Locator at cruising.org and input your zip code.

Travel agents can also become certified “experts” by the various cruise lines. For example, if you are interested in Royal Caribbean cruises, they have a list of travel agents specialized in their product here:royalcaribbean.com/customersupport/travelagentLocate.do. Other lines do the same.

Look, also, for the initials CTC after an agent’s name. They stand for Certified Travel Counselor, which means the Travel Institute has certified they have at least five years of full-time industry experience and have completed certain tests and programs. Another resource is the American Society of Travel Agents (asta.org), the world’s largest travel-agent association.

  • Check their specialties. Once you’ve identified an agent, find out what cruise lines he or she is expert in: If you are interested in an adventure trip to Antarctica, find someone who specializes in that rather than mass-market cruising to the Caribbean.

Also, find out if that agent has been on the ships and brands you are interested in. Experienced cruise specialists often sample ships so they can advise clients with first-hand knowledge.

Booking direct

If you are a savvy cruiser who knows exactly what you want, or if you have the time to do a lot of research, booking direct might be for you.

Almost every cruise line has a direct booking option on its website or by calling its reservations center.

Picking a cruise

Matching your personality and tastes to the right cruise line and ship is imperative. To the inexperienced eye, all cruise ships might look the same. But there are major differences between the lines and even the ships within the same line.

  • Lines. Norwegian Cruise Line bills itself as a “freestyle” cruise line in terms of dining, and was the first to veer from the traditional two-set dining times. While most cruise lines now offer a variety of restaurants, NCL’s newest ship doesn’t even have a main dining room, a cruise ship staple.

Royal Caribbean targets an active crowd with its rock climbing walls, surfing simulators, boxing rings, and an onboard zipline.

Carnival Cruise Lines has never stopped calling its vessels, “the Fun Ships,” and that is what they aim to offer guests.

MORE: How to pick the perfect cruise

Then there are the niche brands: Azamara Club Cruises keeps its ships in port late to allow passengers to explore the nightlife in places like St. Tropez. Cunard Line tries to give its passengers the feel of being on an early 20th-century ocean liner. Much of the Celebrity Cruises experience is centered around food and wine, while Holland America passengers enjoy a wide range of lecturers and enrichment classes.

The upscale lines also offer different experiences — from the laid-back, yacht-like vibe of the 50-cabin Seadream Yacht Club vessels to the ultra-luxury pampering of a Seabourn ship, to the sails blowing in the wind on a Windstar Cruises vessel, there really is a product for everyone.

  • Ships. First of all, size matters. The larger the ship, the more there will be to do onboard including restaurants, entertainment, and daily activities. For families, it usually means there will be activities targeted to all age groups.

In terms of itinerary, generally the bigger the ship, the bigger and busier the ports it will go to. Only the smallest of ships can call at tiny islands, but 12 huge cruise ships at once can — and do — call in Cozumel, Mexico.

Another rule of thumb is that the smaller the ship, the higher the price tag. Small cruise ships are usually in the luxury or adventure segment of the market. They offer the highest crew-to-passenger ratios and some of the largest suites at sea.

PHOTOS: The seven most spectacular new suites at sea
MORE: Cruise entertainment, dining options increase, diversify

Many small ship lines are “all-inclusive” meaning that depending on the line, beverages like specialty coffees, soft drinks and alcohol will be included in the fare, as will some of the classes and activities you would be charged for on a larger ship.

One luxury cruise line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, even includes a selection of complimentary shore excursions.

Smaller ships are more intimate and you will probably get to know people after a few days, while on the largest ships, you might never cross paths with the same people twice.

Small ships usually have a more mature crowd and have very little for children to do. Nightlife and the casino are often afterthoughts.

While there won’t be nearly as many places to eat as on the biggest cruise ships, the cuisine on small ships is often the finest at sea.

Next, think about what ship features are important to you — is it the “wow factors” like a zipline, surfing simulators, and bowling allies? Or are you more interested in the most extensive spa or the most roaring nightlife and casino at sea?

Do you want to try a different cuisine every night, or have the most spaces for your kids to run around?

Do you like your entertainment to be Broadway-like or cabaret style?

Lines become known for certain amenities, but those features are often found only on their newest ships. Norwegian’s “freestyle” dining experience, for example, isn’t as freestyle on its oldest ships, which don’t have as many choices as its newest ones do.

If you love Princess Cruises’ adults-only Sanctuary area or its Movies Under the Stars jumbo pool screen, be advised these amenities are not found on all of the line’s older vessels.

The newest vessels with the most newfangled amenities will always command major premiums. But if you’re willing to cruise on a vessel only a couple years older, the price will drop significantly.

At the same time, cruise lines invest millions of dollars into those old ships, and often give them the most popular amenities from the newest ones. For example, Celebrity Cruises is refurbishing many of its older ships with the best features from its newest Solstice-class vessels.

Cabin selection

There can be up to 37 different kinds of cabins on each ship. The smaller the ship the fewer the choices, but even suites on a smaller, luxury ship will have different sizes and configurations.

  • Categories. Most cabins fall into three categories: inside, outside, and balcony.

Inside cabins are the ship’s smallest and most basic. They can generally fit up to four people by utilizing bunk beds.

Outside cabins, or oceanview, have seaside windows and come in different sizes and layouts depending on their location.

Balcony cabins have attached private balconies. A standard balcony cabin will usually have a table and two chairs on it, while larger suites will have loungers.

The most expensive cabins are the suites. The most luxurious ones have large dining rooms and bars and several bedrooms. Located on the ship’s corners, they may have wrap-around balconies with private hot tubs. Oceania Cruises used big-name designers from Ralph Lauren Home for the top suites on its newest ship, the Marina, while the Oasis-class vessels have duplex loft suites with two-story windows looking out to sea.

  • Location. Cabin location is also important, especially if you are prone to seasickness. Rooms located in the middle of the vessel and lower down tend to experience the least amount of motion.

Also, keep in mind that on the largest ships the distance from one end to the other is quite far. Think about whether you want to be near the elevators, the fitness center, the lido-deck buffet, children’s play areas, etc.

If you are traveling with your family, ask about adjoining cabins. Most vessels have cabins that join via an interior door making two cabins feel like a mini-suite. While older ships have fewer of these, the newest ships that cater more to families have introduced more adjoining cabin possibilities.

When to buy

Most cruise ships sell from the inside out and outside in; the most expensive suites and least expensive inside cabins sell out first, leaving the standard balcony cabins as the last to go.

If you are particular about a certain cabin, a certain date, and a particular itinerary, you should book early. The cruise lines encourage this and usually offer early-booking incentives. Certain lines are better at giving the early buyer the best deal, while others tend to dump inventory at the last minute. Generally, what’s left the month before departure is not going to be the best cabin on the best itinerary.

Travel agents typically advise booking at least six months out for the best cabins during peak travel time. Cruises on small ships to unusual destinations like Antarctica can sell out over a year in advance.

Further, there is more demand on the mass-market ships when school is out. And you’ll pay a premium to cruise over the holidays and during spring break.

Off-peak sailings are often the best deals, and if you can handle being on a ship for many days at sea, repositioning cruises — when cruise lines relocate their ships from one region of the world to another to start a new season, such as a crossing from Europe to the Caribbean in the fall, and back again in late spring — are often among the best deals at sea.

Finally, consider the cost of air. Even if you can get a last-minute deal on a cruise, last-minute airfare to the port could be much higher.

Wave season

One of the best times of year for deals is during Wave Season, the period between January and March that has traditionally been the industry’s hottest selling period.

The combination of winter-weary consumers and cruise lines’ desire to move inventory early — so they can raise prices later — means that this is when the cruise lines make high-value offers like free upgrades, onboard credit, and free airfare. But shop around. Even among different travel agents you will find different perks based on the volume they do with certain lines.

Booking last minute

If you aren’t picky and just want a cheap getaway, it might be worth waiting for a last-minute deal. But they can be unpredictable. Weather, oil prices, consumer confidence, world events and employment reports can all impact the price of a cruise.

To find a combination of a good last-minute price and desirable cabins, time your cruise search for when people can cancel their reservations without penalty (usually between 60 to 90 days before departure). These cancelled cabins might go for reduced rates at the last minute.

Guaranteed cabins

If you don’t care about your cabin location, you can get a good deal by taking the “guaranteed cabin” option. Rather than be assigned a specific cabin number, you will get a guaranteed cabin type — oceanview, inside, balcony — but you won’t know where it is until you board the ship. This can save you hundreds of dollars, but you may end up at the bottom, rear of the vessel.