Is a Cruise Cabin Guarantee worth booking, to save money? Most cruise lines offer a lower fare for stateroom categories under a “guarantee” rate, which means exactly what it implies: you don't get to select a particular stateroom, but are guaranteed to be in a stateroom of the booked category (or higher).
1. May Have the Worst Location in That Category
One of the reasons cruise lines offer a “guaranteed” option for a lower rate is to fill the worst located cabins within a category, for example aft cabins that may be subject to far more vibration, cabins that are in noisy places underneath restaurants or bars, cabins that have somewhat obstructed views, etc. It's similar to how many hotels give their worst rooms to guests who book through third party OTAs such as Expedia, Hotels.com, etc. For that reason, if you do opt to book a guaranteed stateroom, be sure you're willing to accept the worst located cabin in that category.
2. May Be a Connecting or Accessible Stateroom
A corollary to the above is that a guaranteed stateroom can be any one in that category, including a connecting stateroom or an accessible stateroom. Of course with a connecting stateroom the interconnecting door will be locked, but you may hear more noise from your neighbors (similar to in a hotel with connecting rooms) than you would with a non-connecting stateroom. Accessible staterooms are of course excellent for guests who need them, but if you don't need accessible facilities, you may not relish the roll-in shower or bathroom layout. Also be aware that some accessible staterooms won't offer a deadbolt for the door.
3. May Not Be Assigned Until Boarding
If you like to know where you'll be located, it goes without saying that you don't want a guaranteed stateroom. The stateroom could be assigned at any time, including at time of boarding (more typically, they are assigned at least a few days before sailing).
4 Loyalty/Status Typically Doesn't Help with Getting a Better Stateroom
If you're thinking that your many cruises or loyalty program status with a cruise line will help you get a better stateroom when booking a guarantee, think again. We don't know of any cruise lines that explicitly take loyalty status into account when assigning staterooms booked at guaranteed rates. And with most cruise lines trying to earn incremental revenue by selling upgrades, it's highly unlikely that you'll be upgraded when booking a guarantee.
5. May Be Denied Boarding if the Cruise is Oversold
While very rare, this does occasionally happen (although highly unlikely for luxury cruise lines, such as Regent Seven Seas). For example, on a recent November 2023 cruise from Brisbane, Australia to the South Pacific, several Royal Caribbean cruise guarantee passengers were denied boarding due to the cruise being oversold. Originally the passengers were provided a full refund and a voucher worth 25% off a future cruise, although after the passengers complained on social media, they were given future cruise credits worth their full fare in addition to the refund, as well as Deluxe Beverage packages.
Subscribe to TravelSort on YouTube for travel inspiration.
Become a TravelSort Client and Book 5-Star Hotels with Virtuoso or Four Seasons Preferred Partner Benefits