Royal Caribbean this week began offering passengers the option to potentially upgrade to a higher cabin category by placing a bid online.
The program is called ‘Royal Up’, a take on Norwegian Cruise Line’s ‘Upgrade Anytime’ and is for now only available on select sailings.
Passengers booked on these select cruises will be notified via email and given a chance to browse through a list of staterooms available for an upgrade.
Each cabin category, from oceanview to the highest-level suites, will have an associated minimum upgrade bid, and bidders must put a credit card number on file when bidding.
If they see one they like, such as a balcony stateroom if they have booked an inside or outside cabin, they will then be able to select the dollar amount they are willing to pay for the upgrade and submit their ‘bid’.
If a passenger’s bid is accepted, their credit card will be charged and they’ll receive a confirmation email from Royal Caribbean.
Bids are priced per person and based on two people per stateroom, but only the first two guests in the room will be charged even if more are sailing.
Royal Caribbean recommends interested cruisers make bids across multiple categories in order to increase their chances of success.
Anecdotal reports suggest the minimum bid for an inside to outside cabin upgrade is US $500.
The fine print for the bidding process includes a warning that “Royal Caribbean cannot guarantee a specific cabin number assignment within the upgraded category. Your cabin number will depend on space availability and cannot be changed.”
So passengers who like to book a specific cabin aboard their chosen ship will not be able to do so when bidding on a cabin upgrade, which may put off some who have a preference for particular staterooms (near the lobby, on the corners etc).
This system introduced by Royal Caribbean comes ahead of the cruise line’s return to the Middle East cruise market with Jewel of the Seas.