You’re found your dream cruise, picked out the perfect date, and even narrowed down the cabin type. When you go to book, you are offered several categories in that cabin type, including the confusing “guarantee cabin”. What does a guarantee cabin mean and how can it save you money on your next cruise?
A guarantee cabin means the cruise line gets to assign a cabin to you but it cannot go below a specific category. For example, if you book a guarantee balcony cabin, you are promised at least the lowest level balcony room or higher. There are pros and cons to this of course.
Pros: Guarantee cabins are generally less expensive than cabins in the same category. The cruise line is basically giving you a discount for being flexible. Within each type of cabin, there are usually several categories. The lower categories usually go first because people are trying to save money. This means that many times the higher categories are leftover when the cruise line assigns guarantee cabins. For example, on a recent cruise, I booked a guarantee balcony and got the 2nd highest balcony category, a cabin that would have cost me hundreds of dollars more than what I paid.
Once your cabin is assigned, cruise lines will generally let you move to another open cabin within the same category. So if you aren’t crazy about the location, there MAY still some flexiability to move cabins. (There is no guarantee that the cruise line will let you move though. This is entirely up to them and when you book a guarantee cabin, you agree to take whatever the cruise line gives you as long as it mets the minimum cabin type you chose.)
Cons: You have no right to choose your cabin, period. As I said above, you agree to be stuck with whatever the cruise line gives you, even if it’s under the noisy dance club or on the “basement” (lowest) deck. If you are set on staying on a specific deck or certain part of the deck (aft, mid-ship, or forward), then you may want to pass on guarantee cabins.
You don’t know when your cabin will be assigned. The cruise line can assign your guarantee cabin up to check-in on the day of your cruise. Some people can’t stand not knowing for that long. I’ve booked 2-3 guarantee cabins so far and I’ve never had to wait that long but it happens.
Sometimes, guarantees are not cheaper or not THAT much cheaper. If a cruise is selling well, guarantees may not be cheaper than actually picking your cabin or many not be offered at all. If it is offered and less expensive, you have to decide how much you’re willing to pay to choose your cabin when you book and not have to play the waiting game. If you only save $50 per cabin, maybe it’s not worth it to you.