4 Reasons to Avoid Princess Cruises’ Complimentary Upgrades; One Great Reason to Say Yes
Updated: Sep 5, 2023
Can a complimentary upgrade be a bad thing? For some people, yes. It can also be an excellent opportunity for the right people. Your understanding of the program will enable you to make the right vacation choice.
When booking with Princess Cruises, there’s an option to accept being eligible for a “Complimentary Upgrade.” But should agree to it?
The first thing you need to know about: Categories
Each Princess’s ship has over 30 categories. These are split between inside cabins (no windows), oceanview cabins (windows or portholes), cabins with balconies and suites. The categories are further broken down by details such as location, a possible obstruction outside your window or balcony, size, and amenities.
The second thing you need to know about: What is an upgrade?
An upgrade is being moved to any category higher than the one you paid for. It does not mean you will be upgraded to an entirely different type of accommodations. You could be upgraded from inside to oceanview. Or oceanview to a balcony cabin, balcony cabin to mini-suite, or mini-suite to a full suite.
Theoretically, you could be upgraded by more than one type of cabin. But I see a lot more upgrades within the kind of category that people purchase.
For example, let’s say you paid for an inside category IE cabin on Royal Princess. Princess may “upgrade” you to category IB (also an inside cabin), but in a location that Princess Cruises feels is better.
The third thing you need to know about: Is an upgrade always better?
Whether an upgrade is better depends ultimately on whether you see it that way. I’ll explain that further when I talk below about reasons not to agree to be on the complimentary upgrade list.
The fourth thing you need to know: Will I definitely get upgraded? If I’m upgraded, when will I find out?
No. You may be upgraded. If it happens, it could take place any time from after you make the final payment up until embarkation that day of sailing. More often than not, guests do not get offered an upgrade.
The fifth thing you need to know about: Can you turn down an upgrade?
Yes, maybe. The guest and their travel agent both receive an email that you have been upgraded. Notice that I said you’ve been upgraded. It’s already happened by that point.
You have up to 48 hours for your travel agent (or you if you booked directly) to turn it down.
If turned down, Princess Cruises will check to see if your old cabin is still available. If it is, you will be rebooked back to your original cabin. However, suppose your room has now been booked by someone else. In that case, Princess will attempt to get you back into a cabin closer to what you paid for, subject to what’s still available.
Four Reasons Why You Should NOT Agree to Be Eligible for an Upgrade
There are some people and circumstances that should not agree to an upgrade. In these scenarios, people are much better off to “just say no.”
1) You are booked into an accessible cabin.
Suppose you use a scooter, powerchair or manual wheelchair and/or need the features that make your cabin accessible. In that case, you should never agree to be on the complimentary upgrade list. The computer doesn’t look for upgraded accessible cabins.
You will likely be moved to a non-accessible cabin, and it’s doubtful you’ll get the cabin back that you need.
2) You are picky about your location.
I don’t mean that negatively. It’s your vacation, and there are locations on the ship that you may not like. As there are no criteria you can submit that control the upgrade location, you may be better off in the cabin you booked.
Here are a few examples of possible “upgrades” you may not feel are good:
You have an incredible aft-facing cabin with an extended balcony and an amazing expansive view off the back of the ship on Sky Princess. You’ve been upgraded to a higher-category balcony cabin which is midship but with a much smaller balcony.
You prefer to be midship and booked into a midship inside cabin on Caribbean Princess. An upgrade came through for an oceanview cabin---- but it’s in the very front of the ship and has some type of huge metal mechanism outside the window.
You booked on Princess Cruises’ newest ship, Enchanted Princess, into a mini-suite. You got upgraded to a Window Suite. Now THAT’S sweet! Except that your wife’s dream of romance includes sunsets with cocktails, sunrises with coffee, and romantic dinners on the balcony. Your mini-suite had a balcony. Your new Window Suite does not.
None of the above are horrible unless they aren’t what you want.
3) You are traveling with others.
Suppose you want to be next door, in the same vicinity of a deck, or at least share the same elevator bank or stairway as family and friends who are traveling with you. You should not agree to a possible upgrade.
There is no way, even if all parties go on the complimentary upgrade list that you will be guaranteed to be near each other.
4) You are a “control freak.”
If the thought of not knowing where you could end up being, not knowing if you will be upgraded, and not knowing when you’ll be upgraded (if at all), this is not for you.
We all have limits, easily pushed buttons or things that make us a tad nuts. Embrace it rather than risking how comfortable you will be if anything in this article makes you worry.
One Great Reason to Say “YES!” to Being on the Complimentary Upgrade List
If you’ve read through this thinking, “no big deal” on each point, then the good news is that you are a GREAT candidate to be eligible for a complimentary upgrade.
Do you want to book your cruise with a specialist who has your back through the process? Take advantage of our years of experience booking individuals and groups with Princess Cruises. You get our expertise and the advantage of the relationships we've developed. And at no extra cost to you. Contact me to set up a complimentary consultation so we can talk about your next great vacation.