Can you upgrade your room after final payment on my cruise?

Can you change or upgrade your room on a Royal Caribbean cruise if you’re past the final payment date?

It seems as though when you reach the final payment date for your sailing, everything is more or less “written in stone” for the purposes of your reservation. You’d incur penalties for changing or cancelling your cruise reservation, but are you definitely stuck with the cabin selection you’ve made?

There’s plenty of reasons why you’d want to change cabins, such as wanting to splurge for a bigger cabin.  Or perhaps you changed your mind about the room location or general category.

On one cruise I took, I had booked our family in a standard balcony cabin and then a few months later, I got a bonus at work and wanted to take advantage of the cash flow by getting a nicer room.

There are a few recourses you have if you’re past final payment and want to change cabins, but they are limited.

Bid for a cabin upgrade

Royal Caribbean offers a way to upgrade your cruise ship cabin by bidding for it.

The RoyalUp program offers the option to place a bid for select cabins that cost more than what you have already booked. 

It’s a blind bidding program, which means you place a bid based on a range of possible prices.  You don’t know what anyone else bid, nor if there are actually any cabins available to upgrade to. Royal Caribbean uses RoyalUp to net additional revenue from passengers willing to spend more than they had already, as well as fill cabins that are cancelled at the last-minute.

Read more: RoyalUp tips & tricks

Once you make a bid, it’s binding if your bid was selected by the cruise line. You can always withdraw the bid before a decision is made, but if Royal Caribbean approves it, you’re locked in.

Moreover, you have no choice in the new cabin location you’re upgrading to.

The best thing about RoyalUp is it’s easy to do, you can place a bid right up to the last few days before the cruise begins, and some people really do get a great deal on a cabin upgrade.

The downside to bidding for a cabin upgrade is it’s all a guessing game as to what to bid, or if there’s actually any cabins to move up to. 

In my experience, there is no rhyme or reason what to bid to win an upgrade.

There’s one other catch with RoyalUp, and that is if you booked a standard cabin and win the bid to move up to a suite, you won’t get double Crown and Anchor Society points.

Call and upgrade your cabin

While not as exciting as placing a bid, you can still upgrade your cabin after final payment date (assuming there’s an available cabin left).

While Royal Caribbean makes it seem like you cannot change your reservation once you reach final payment date, in practice, they will usually allow an upgrade past the final payment date if you’re willing to spend more money.

What most people do in this scenario is they go to the Royal Caribbean website and make a mock booking to see which staterooms are still unsold.  If there’s one that looks good, you can then back out of the booking process and contact the cruise line to upgrade to it.

If the higher category cabin is the same price or cheaper than you paid, you can move up to it for no additional cost.

The easiest way to conduct a cabin upgrade in this manner is to use your travel agent to make it all happen.

Prices for Royal Caribbean cruises fluctuate all the time, even after final payment date.  In some cases, there can be a nominal extra cost to move your room up after the final payment date.  This is sometimes because other guests cancelled their reservation at the final payment date, which created a surplus of cabin inventory.

One thing to keep in mind is there are absolutely no refunds or any money back. Even if you upgrade to a bigger cabin and the cost is less than you paid originally, you won’t be able to get money back once you’re past final payment date. 

In addition, upgrading in this manner may cost you substantially more. Last-minute rates can often be quite high compared to booking a cruise many months before the sail date.

You should also be aware by upgrading, you may lose any booking incentives given at time of original booking, and have to go with current promotion.

Of course, this option depends on there being unsold cabins left. In many cases, a sailing will be completely sold out in the final weeks prior to the sailing. Nearly all cruises sail completely full.

The real advantage to upgrading in this manner instead of RoyalUp is it’s straightforward and there’s no guessing if you’ll be able to upgrade or not. On the other hand, bidding might be cheaper.

Bottom line

Yes, you can pay to upgrade your room even after the final payment date, but there are a few catches.

The easiest option is to call and upgrade your room to a higher category. You will be subject to the prevailing rate for the cabin you want to upgrade to, and sometimes it’s minimal, some time it’s a lot more.

You are definitely not able to cancel, get a refund, or downgrade your cabin without incurring penalties.

Alternatively, you try for a cabin upgrade by bidding for it.  There’s no telling what anyone else already bid, or if there’s even a room to upgrade to.  But bidding for a better cabin is simple, and you’ll probably pay less if your bid actually wins.

Which option is best? The choice depends on your appetite for luck, and how much of a budget you have to spend on a bigger cabin.