I wrote previously about the NCL Upgrade Advantage program. If you want a nicer cabin than you originally paid for, you can bid to receive it at a discount. This complicates the process when cabin prices drop. Also, there are no guarantees. Unfortunately, my upgrade bids for my cruise on Monday were declined today. Here is what happened, as well as the lesson I learned about booking guarantee category staterooms.
For the last couple of months, Norwegian has offered 4 day cruises to Cuba at steep discount compared to Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The Norwegian offerings also include a free open bar. I needed a quick Summer trip, so in May I booked the trip. However, I made a critical mistake. Guarantee cabins- something which gives you a particular class of cabin but no control over where it is on the ship– were $100 cheaper than cabins in the same class where I could pick my room. Paying $100 more got me free promotions from NCL and the ability to choose my room. I gambled, thinking that booking an unassigned room would give me a better chance at a free upgrade. Oops. My bad.
I quickly found out that NCL handles upgrades by attempting to sell them at a discount. I also found out that my oceanview cabin was on Deck 4. Since I wanted to be higher on the ship and closer to the action. I bid on both a balcony and a suite. Had I won, I would have had no opportunity to say where on the ship my new cabin would be. However, there are none of the premium cabins on Deck 4. That necessarily means I would have been higher on the ship. I also would have had a nicer cabin.
My earlier posts explained what I bid. I did later raise my balcony bid by $5. Today at about 1:15, NCL sent me the email above. Actually, they sent 4 of them– one for the balcony, and one for each sub-category of suite. That was a little less than 51 hours before the ship sails.
The biggest lesson here is that I should not have booked a guarantee cabin hoping for the cheap upgrade. That was dumb. On balance, however, I enjoyed the opportunity to get something nicer for cheap. I sail on Monday, and I will post early and often to let you know how it goes. Off to Havana!
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