Carnival Cruise Line Debunks Cabin Upgrade Hack

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Carnival Cruise Line has responded to a viral cruise stateroom upgrade hack circulating on social media, noting that not only does it not work, but it’s a waste of time for passengers and crew members alike.

The so-called “hack” recommends that travelers book an inside stateroom but, on embarkation day, visit the Guest Services desk and claim to be scared, sick, and claustrophobic because of the small interior room. Theoretically, this will compel the Guest Services staff to upgrade travelers to a balcony stateroom at no extra charge.

“When you get on the ship go straight to the front desk. Say to them that you are scared because you get claustrophobic and sick in an inside room and and you have to get upgraded,” one purveyor of the hack proclaimed. “I have been on 4 cruises and only once was told no and on TWO occasions we were given a free upgrade to a balcony.”

Carnival Cruise Line Cabin
Carnival Cruise Line Cabin (Photo Credit: Cruise Hive)

The individual posting the so-called trick did not, however, provide the ship’s names, sailing dates, or other confirmation of where or when they were successful getting an upgrade. The post, however, was made on a social media site known for false and exaggerated claims.

The tip did come to the attention of Carnival Cruise Line’s Brand Ambassador John Heald, who addressed its truthfulness with his characteristic colorful commentary.

“This ‘hack’ is only true in the same sense it’s true that I am on the front cover of ‘Cruise Industry News’ under the banner ‘Cruising’s Hottest and Most Influential Man, 2024,'” Heald said.

It is no secret that cruise bookings are up for all cruise lines. When a ship is sold out, there are no staterooms available for upgrading onboard, no matter what the reason or request may be.

“Our ships are mostly always sold out this year and many are in 2025 too,” Heald confirmed. “We simply cannot do upgrades so standing in line at Guest Services on their busiest day to ask for an upgrade is a waste your time and quite frankly, a waste of the guest services team as well who could be helping other guests.”

Many passengers have to visit Guest Services on the first day of the cruise to arrange paying for onboard accounts with cash, replacing Sail and Sign cards that may not work, requesting special needs accommodations, reporting lost luggage, or other issues.

Carnival Cruise Line Guest Relations Desk
Carnival Cruise Line Guest Relations Desk (Photo Credit: Ihor Koptilin / Shutterstock)

Other guests have responded with skepticism to the hack, noting that cruise lines clearly publish stateroom types and sizes. Any traveler who “needs” a larger room due to claustrophobia, accessibility, or simply personal preference, should book that type of room when they arrange their cruise.

Once onboard, guests may also notice signage posted near the Guest Services desk that states the ship is full and no upgrades are available.

If travelers are truly unhappy with their assigned stateroom, Guest Services can arrange for their luggage to be returned to the cruise terminal if they choose not to set sail. This would be without any refund or compensation, however.

Are Upgrades Ever Available?

Booking a lower category of stateroom and hoping for a free upgrade may be a cost-saving strategy, but it is not a foolproof one.

Travelers can, however, book a guaranteed stateroom in the lowest category they will be comfortable with. While they will not be able to pick out their exact stateroom number or location, it is possible they will receive an upgrade when their final stateroom assignment is made.

Carnival Sunrise Cabins

Read Also: Should You Book a Guaranteed Cruise Stateroom?

The risk, however, is that they may also receive a stateroom in their chosen category in a less desirable location, such as an obstructed view or positioned in a noisier part of the ship.

Other cost-saving ways to get upgrades are through bidding programs, which vary by cruise line. For these programs, guests are offered the opportunity to bid on upgrades as their cruise date approaches. Bids will be accepted or rejected depending on availability and cost.

Ultimately, the very best way to ensure the best possible stateroom is to book the exact room you want for your cruise vacation. Consider the size and location of the cabin, its amenities, and any perks, such as special benefits for suites or certain classes of staterooms. There will be no need to try an unconfirmed, uncertain trick for an upgrade if you’ve already reserved the upgrade you want!

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