Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned pro, getting a cabin upgrade is the cherry on the cake to any cruising adventure. Unfortunately, there is no magic secret to upgrades, and there are no guarantees it will happen to you. That said, if you play your cards right, you can increase your chances. We’ve listed the best ways to stack the odds in your favor for that infamous upgrade.

Let Them Know It’s Your First Time

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What makes you special as a first-time cruiser is that you are prime to be turned into a cruise addict. Cruise operators want you to get the bug and to keep coming back for more. It might be that it’s your first ever cruise or simply your first cruise on a particular cruise liner, but be sure to tell them either way.

Clock-Up Some Cruiser Miles

On the other hand, maybe you do this cruising thing all the time. If you’re a frequent cruiser, then you may well be in line for an upgrade or at very least some additional perks. Check out the cruise lines frequent cruiser programs to make sure you’re not missing out. Usually, any special treatment will be based on the number of days you’ve sailed with a specific cruise liner, so you’ll need to be dedicated to your favorite operator.

Remember, If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get

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It’s always worth checking with your travel agent if there is any chance of an upgrade when you book. Sometimes being a little bit cheeky can work in your favor, as long as you do it with a smile of course. Sometimes travel agents will purchase blocks of cabins so, if one of the higher level cabins goes unsold, you could be first in line. It’s also worth checking with your travel agent if they know of any cruise liners or destinations where upgrades happen more frequently. If you can’t decide where to go, or who with, it could just tip your decision in their favor.

Choose Your Cruise Wisely

If you’re setting sail in the high-season, then there is way more chance that the cruise ship will be full to the brim. If you can travel in the off-season, however, there is a much better chance of an upgrade, not to mention the fact that you’ve already paid substantially less for your cruise. The same goes for your choice of destination; the less popular it is, the more chance you’ll have of an upgrade.

Check out the Cabin Plan

Every cruise ship aims to sail full, so once all the cheaper cabins have sold out, you might get bumped up to a balcony room to make space for someone else who is looking for the lower price. Remember that there are no guarantees though, make sure you’re happy with the inside room if the upgrade fairy doesn’t come calling.

Consider Your Cabin Category

If you choose a cabin in a sold-out category, the cruise operator might decide to upgrade you instead of someone who booked early. You can also book a guaranteed cabin to reserve a category but not a particular room. You are guaranteed to get either your category or higher. The worst case scenario is that you don’t get to choose the area or deck you most want. The best case is that the category sells out and you are given the elusive cabin upgrade.

Keep Your Eye on Cabin Prices

No doubt you’ll think to keep your eye on cabin prices before you book, but it’s worth doing the same after too. A lot of cruise lines offer price guarantees. What that means is that if you book early but then spot the price drop further at a later date, you’re due money back or some credit. If you opt for the later, then you can use your newly-found funds to bump yourself up a grade. It’s not free as such, but it pretty much feels like it.

Shout If You’re Not Happy

Hopefully every cruise you go on will be smooth sailing from the outset, but if not then you need to let them know. Your cabin should be just as you expect it to be and if you don’t say anything to the contrary, the cruise liner will assume it is. If you’re not entirely happy with your cabin, then let the customer service team know. It doesn’t guarantee you an upgrade, and it’s pretty bad karma to make up non-existent issues, but if you have a genuine problem that can’t be resolved, they may just have to find you a better room.