Should I book a guarantee stateroom on a cruise?
Guarantee staterooms are a tempting offer: pay less for a cabin without the ability to choose the exact location, but is it worth it?
Many cruisers find the lower price very appealing, but are concerned they are making a mistake by playing roulette with their stateroom location.
Here is what you should know about guarantee staterooms on a cruise, and if they are worth giving a try.
What is a Guarantee Cabin?
A guarantee stateroom is when Royal Caribbean (and most other major cruise lines) give you a discount on a particular category of rooms in exchange for giving up the ability to choose your exact room.
This means once you book, you do not know the exact room assignment. At some point in the weeks leading up to the cruise, your stateroom assignment will appear.
In addition, the cruise line promises at least that category of room, which means there is a slim chance you could be upgraded.
The exact discount you can expect for opting for a guarantee room depends on the sailing. When you select a category of rooms, you are given the option of going with a guarantee room or choosing one, at which point you can see the savings by going with a guarantee.
Guarantee cabins are a tool the cruise line uses to help fill in the gaps of unsold staterooms. There are simply some rooms that are less likely to get booked, so guarantee rooms help close that gap.
When do you get your stateroom assignment?
There is no definitive timeframe when your cabin actually gets assigned. It can happen at any point leading up your actual sail date.
Royal Caribbean states a guarantee room assignment is made at some point between 5-30 days before sailing.
Most of the time, a few weeks before the cruise your room is assigned. In some rare cases, the assignment process has taken up to a day or two before the cruise sails, but these are rare.
There is no notification when it occurs, you just have to log into Royal Caribbean's website and check if a room number now appears.
Is a guarantee cabin worth it?
It can be a good deal to book a guarantee stateroom, but it depends on the discount and your tolerance of cabins.
First and foremost, the discount should make you feel comfortable booking a guarantee. If the price difference is negligible, then you are better off picking your own room.
Equally important is the idea you are okay with your stateroom being somewhere on the ship that is out of your control. Cruise ship cabins are designed to be as well-appointed and noise-free as they can be, so the odds are you will not end up with an awful room.
If you are very particular about where your stateroom is, then a guarantee cabin is not for you. However, if you are flexible with the room location and want to get the lowest possible price (with maybe a chance at an upgrade), then going with a guarantee is not a bad plan.