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How can you win that Royal Up stateroom upgrade bid? It's pure luck

16 Jun 2023

Royal Caribbean's stateroom bidding upgrade program is quite popular because it offers the opportunity to get a bigger (and arguably better) cabin for less than if you booked it outright.  But how can you increase your chances to actually win the upgrade?

Grand Suite on Freedom

Among the frequently asked Royal Caribbean cruise questions we get on this site, how to win a Royal Up bid is among the top queries.

At some point before your cruise, you should get an email from Royal Caribbean alerting you to the option to bid for a room upgrade. Depending on which category of room you have booked, there is usually a variety of bigger and more opulent cabin choices to consider.

The allure of getting a nicer stateroom for a fraction of the normal cost tantalizes many guests, and the obvious next question is how to increase the chances of actually winning a Royal Up bid.

How RoyalUp works

When you get the email, you have the option of entering a Royal Up bid yourself or through your travel agent.

This program is similar to a silent auction, where the cruise line sets a minimum bid, and you can go up in price from there.

Any submitted offer is for the entire stay and applies to the first two people on the reservation. If your reservation includes multiple guests (between 2 and 5 passengers), the offer amount submitted will be per guest but only for the first and second guest on the reservation.

Inside cabin on Symphony of the Seas

As an example, a $500 stateroom upgrade bid (if accepted) would result in a $1,000 charge.

When considering a bid amount, the website rates your bid, although it seems to universally increase your chance tied to the dollar amount. As you might imagine, it will make you think a higher bid is a better bid.

In reality, you have no idea what anyone else bid.  So there is absolutely no way to know how competitive your bid truly is, and whom you are competing against.

Junior Suite on Symphony of the Seas

Unlike an auction on eBay where you can see the top bid so far, there's no such way with Royal Up.

It's important to remember that Royal Up is a mechanism for the cruise line to sell unsold cruise ship cabins, especially if there's a last minute cancellation.

The most important fact to realize about Royal Up is just because you get a bidding opportunity does not mean there is a cabin available to upgrade to.

Panoramic suite

While upgrading to unsold cabins is one part of the process, it seems more common for Royal Caribbean to leverage bids when someone cancels a reservation close to the sail date.

In short, RoyalUp is kind of a "black box" where guests don't have any insight into the logic of how winning bids are selected.  In addition, there's no indication when a bid will be selected. It's possible your bid could be active all the way until your ship departs.

It's all luck

Royal Up bids

In trying to answer the question of how to increase your chances of winning a Royal Up bid, the answer is simply luck.

In my experience trying out RoyalUp myself and talking with many other cruise fans, it's quite clear that there is no consistent strategy to actually winning a bid.

If you're in an inside room and trying to bid to a cabin category that has a lot of availability and less demand, such as an oceanview or balcony, your chances are probably a bit higher at winning a bid since there's more inventory of those types of cabins.

Loft Suite

Suites, on the other hand, are tough to win because everyone on the ship dreams of moving up to a suite.  Combine that with the limited suite inventory, and you have a rather low chance at winning.

In comparing winning bids shared by past cruisers, there's even less consistency as to which strategy works best. There are winning bids for a minimum bid amount, as well as winning bids for a maximum amount.

To further validate these observations, I reached out to a few travel agents and asked them what their experience has been with their clients winning a stateroom upgrade bid.

Connecting rooms

Jenn Greene, a Travel Planner with MEI Travel, called the bidding program "random" when describing it to her clients, "Royal Up is completely random. I let clients know that it’s more like a lottery than a guarantee. And that if you really want it bid high. With ships sailing full, I am seeing less opportunities for clients to bid."

Royal Caribbean ship at sea

Mindy Breitman, a Travel Advisor for Cruise Planners, also couldn't find any patterns for her clients to benefit from, " I consider it a silent auction - totally random. I had two people on the same exact sailing bid for the same exact category and the same bid amount. One got the Royal up the other didn’t."

Junior Suite on Symphony of the Seas

Sharla Manglass, a Travel Planner with MEI Travel, looks at a few variables that could swing your chances one way or another, "First- availability of staterooms that will fit your party size on the ship. Not all staterooms will sleep 3 or 4, and there are sometimes even capacity restrictions due to regulations."

"Royal Up success also depends on overall ship capacity. On a recent cruise for myself, the entire ship was sold out, so obviously no bids were accepted, even though we were offered them."

The experiences from these travel agents backs up what many cruise fans have shared over the years as well.

In short, treat Royal Up like a scratch off lotto game: it's fun to give it a try, but you should expect to lose and certainly don't make plans based on you winning.

Royal Caribbean's RoyalUp guide, tips, and tricks

02 Aug 2022

Planning a cruise often starts with setting a budget, which sometimes means forgoing the cruise cabin of your dreams for something smaller and cheaper.

In the past, you could only switch your cabin category by paying the “sticker price” on an upgraded stateroom, but now there’s a second option: RoyalUp.

RoyalUp is Royal Caribbean’s stateroom bidding program that allows passengers to bid on higher cabin categories before their cruise, offering the chance to “win” an upgraded stateroom.

RoyalUp upgrades often come at a lower price than upgrading your stateroom on your own, making it an attractive option for those looking for the best deal on a better stateroom. Whether switching from an interior to balcony or Junior Suite to Grand Suite, here’s what you need to know about Royal Caribbean’s RoyalUp program.

How RoyalUp works

When RoyalUp bidding opens for your sailing, you’ll receive an email offering you the chance to bid on select stateroom options. The bidding process has a few steps:

  1. Browse through the stateroom options available and choose the amount you’re willing to pay for each upgrade. You don’t have to make bids on every room category, so just bid on the staterooms you’re interested in.
  2. You will enter your credit card information when making the bid. If you win the bid, you’ll receive an email confirmation and your card will be charged the bid amount automatically. Note that your card is not charged unless you win the bid.
  3. Once you win the upgrade and have your credit card charged, you are automatically switched to the higher-category stateroom!

Note that RoyalUp is non-refundable, although cancellations and modifications are allowed prior to a bid being accepted. Bids can be accepted up to 2 days before your sail date.

Related: How to upgrade your cabin on Royal Caribbean

How to increase chances of a RoyalUp upgrade

Sailing at less busy times of the year

You may have a higher chance of winning a RoyalUp bid on a cruise with less capacity. Cruises during the off-season may have fewer guests onboard, meaning there are more rooms available.

Even if your cruise will likely be at near-full capacity (cruising during peak season, during holidays, etc.), it doesn’t hurt to make a bid. Stateroom categories can open up through last-minute cancellations, meaning you can still have a chance to be upgraded even on the busiest of sailings.

Related: The best time to go on a Caribbean cruise

Bid higher than the minimum

RoyalUp bids have a minimum and maximum bid. Minimum bids depend on the stateroom category, with some upgrades starting at $30 per person whereas other bids may begin at $200+ per person. Bid amounts on RoyalUp range from weak to strong.

While no winnings are guaranteed, it’s recommended to bid at least a little bit higher than the minimum bid. Many passengers may bid the minimum and hope they win the upgrade, but if your bid is even $10 more than another passenger, you will have a higher chance of receiving the upgrade.

Top things to consider before bidding through RoyalUp

If you’re on the fence between bidding and not bidding for a stateroom upgrade through RoyalUp, there are a few key considerations that may help you decide if it’s right for you. While the idea of receiving a cabin upgrade may seem appealing, RoyalUp comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Look at the cost to upgrade yourself before bidding

Before bidding on an upgraded stateroom category with RoyalUp, contact your travel agent or Royal Caribbean to check how much it would cost to upgrade your cabin outright instead of through RoyalUp.

Sometimes you may discover that the cost to upgrade your cabin without RoyalUp is not unreasonable. In fact, it’s not unheard of to upgrade your cabin for the same price of a low bid or even less! Be sure to check to see what the cost of a (guaranteed) upgrade is before placing a bid through Royal Up.

Related: Royal Caribbean suites guide & review

Understand the room category and possible cabin locations

RoyalUp cannot guarantee a specific cabin location, so if location is of utmost importance to you, it may be better to upgrade a stateroom on your own instead of through the bidding process.

If you’re bidding on an upgrade from a midship Grand Suite to an AquaTheater suite, for example, your new cabin will be located at the very aft of the ship, which can be prone to more motion throughout the cruise.

Additionally, if you bid from an ocean view to a balcony, you have no control over where the balcony will be located. It may be located midship, or it might be far forward or aft, close to the pool deck, etc.

Bidding is priced per person

Keep in mind that bids placed through RoyalUp are priced per person on a double capacity basis. If you are a solo traveler, you’ll still have to pay the bid amount x2, which can make upgrades more expensive for those cruising solo.

If your stateroom has more than two people, however, you’ll only be charged the bid amount for 2 passengers in the stateroom category. Therefore, a $500 bid per person in a room with four guests will only be $1000 total instead of $2000.

Gratuity amounts increase

If your RoyalUp bid takes you from an interior, ocean view, balcony, or Junior Suite to a Grand Suite or above, your daily gratuities will increase from $14.50 per person, per day to $17.50 per person, per day. This will add $21 per person to a 7-night cruise.

RoyalUp will not maintain connecting rooms

One important note for families before bidding on RoyalUp is that the bidding program will not maintain connecting rooms. If you originally booked a connecting room with friends or family, ensure you are comfortable with the fact that you will no longer be in a connecting room if you win a RoyalUp upgrade.

Related: What’s the best cruise ship cabin for my family?

You won’t receive double Crown & Anchor Society points

If you’re upgrading from a standard stateroom (interior, ocean view, balcony) to a suite, keep in mind that you won’t receive double Crown & Anchor Society points through RoyalUp.

RoyalUp stateroom categories available

RoyalUp upgrade opportunities differ based on the original stateroom you booked. Usually you'll be able to upgrade on stateroom categories that are 1-2 steps up from your original cabin.

If you booked an interior cabin, for example, you won’t typically see the opportunity to bid on staterooms like Owner’s Suites and Loft Suites. You will, however, be able to upgrade to ocean view and balcony cabins. The exact room categories available to book depend on the ship.

Many passengers bid on suites with RoyalUp, as you can often find a lower price through bidding than upgrading to the suite category outright.

One possibility of a RoyalUp upgrade is from a regular suite category to Star Class, Royal Caribbean’s top-tier suite level. Star Class benefits include a personalized Royal Genie service, complimentary specialty dining, complimentary deluxe beverage package, complimentary VOOM internet, and more.

Related: A beginner’s guide to sailing in Star Class

How can I access RoyalUp?

You should receive an email a couple months before your cruise offering you the chance to bid with RoyalUp.

If you haven’t received an email, make sure to opt-in to Royal Caribbean International’s marketing emails. To do this, sign up on the Royal Caribbean website, opt-in during online check-in, or through the My Reservations area on Royal Caribbean’s website.

You can also check if you’re eligible to bid on RoyalUp on Royal Caribbean’s RoyalUp portal.

Bidding rules and cancellations

If you bid on RoyalUp and later decide you don’t want to upgrade your stateroom, you can choose to cancel the bid. Likewise, if you prefer to modify the bid to a higher or lower offer, you can modify each stateroom category’s bid. Be sure to make any modifications or cancellations right away, as you never know when you might receive an upgrade confirmation.

Always be sure to double check your bids before hitting submit, too. While it’s unlikely that your RoyalUp bid will be accepted immediately after bidding, be sure to double check your bid amounts. If you meant to bid only $200 per person on an upgrade, do a double check to make sure you didn’t accidentally move the slider to $300 or $400!

Learn more about cruise ship cabins and upgrades:

How to upgrade your cabin on Royal Caribbean

04 Nov 2019

Now that you booked a Royal Caribbean cruise, you might be wondering if there is an option to upgrade your stateroom to a larger, better or conveniently located room. 

Royal Caribbean cancels plans to introduce Spa stateroom category | Royal Caribbean Blog

Perhaps the price dropped, or your financial situation has changed, or perhaps you simply want to splurge. Whatever the reason, here are the ways to upgrade your cabin.

What to know about Royal Up

Royal Caribbean has introduced a new way to upgrade rooms with its Royal Up program.  This is a blind stateroom upgrade bidding program, where close to your sail date you can let Royal Caribbean know how much you would be willing to pay if an upgrade situation presented itself.

With Royal Up, there is a suggested bid price for an upgrade, but there is no way to know how much to bid beyond that. Moreover, Royal Up's options are not indications of an actual cabin upgrade availability.

How to upgrade the traditional way

My preferred way to upgrade a stateroom is to call a travel agent and have them price out the room upgrade choices and then make the switch. 

If you booked with a travel agent, you have to go through your travel agent to contact Royal Caribbean to upgrade you.  

Your travel agent will give you the new price and apply payments you have made towards the new stateroom.

If you booked your cruise on your own directly with Royal Caribbean, you can call Royal Caribbean directly and give them your reservation number and tell them you want to upgrade.

The Royal Caribbean operator will price the new stateroom out for you and tell you what the new price will be.  Any payments or deposits you've previously made can be applied to the new reservation.

How to upgrade with Royal Up

Prior to your cruise, you may have the option to place a bid with Royal Up to get a room upgrade.

Check on the Royal Up website to determine if you are eligible for an upgrade.

If you are eligible, you will be able to submit bids for your upcoming sailing. The bid amount is per person for the entire duration of the cruise. Offers are based on two occupants per stateroom - only the first and second guest will be charged. 

Once your bid is accepted, your card will be charged immediately, and the upgrade amount paid is final and non-refundable. Moreover, the cabin location is not something you can choose and subject to availability.

You may modify or cancel your offer up until 2 days prior to departure, provided that your offer has not already been accepted.

Your offer can be accepted anytime from the moment it is submitted up until 2 days prior to voyage departure. 

Upgrading your stateroom onboard

It is possible, though unlikely, that you can upgrade your stateroom on the day you sail onboard your ship.  

Since Royal Caribbean cruise ships sail full regularly these days, availability for upgrades is slim, however, there may be an opportunity to upgrade if there is an open stateroom.

You can go to Guest Services to speak with them immediately upon boarding but I would not bet on this being an option at all.  

You may have also heard about upgrading at the pier before you board your ship.  Years ago this practice was more prevalent and you could get some decent discounts for these literally last-minute staterooms.  However, ships are sailing full and the practice in general has been abandoned.

If upgrades are available, they will be at a reduced cost by speaking with the Pier Coordinator.  There is no harm in asking but upgrades are rarely available these days.

Royal Caribbean launches stateroom bidding program in Asia Pacific

10 Jun 2019

Royal Caribbean announced guests who live in the Asia Pacific region can now bid for a stateroom upgrade via RoyalUp. 

RoyalUp is Royal Caribbean's stateroom bidding program, where the cruise line may offer guests the opportunity to bid for a higher stateroom category by inviting them to submit an offer of their choice. If the offer is accepted, the guests will be automatically charged and upgraded.

Accepted offers will be automatically charged, and the guests will be upgraded to their desired staterooms, marking the perfect start of their Royal Caribbean holiday. In the case of unsuccessful bids, the guests will keep their original staterooms without incurring any charges.

The program is currently available for most Royal Caribbean International ships, including Voyager of the Seas in Singapore, Ovation of the Seas in Alaska and Oasis of the Seas in the Mediterranean.  Guests will have a chance to bid for upgrading to a variety of higher category staterooms including the luxurious two-storey Loft Suites on available sailings of the Oasis and Quantum Class ships. 

Angie Stephen, Managing Director, Asia Pacific of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said, “We are seeing very strong response for ‘RoyalUp’ from our other markets because of the great value it brings to our guests, and we believe that many guests in our region will likewise take advantage of this programme to pamper themselves even more on our cruises, starting from their accommodation.”

Royal Caribbean launched the program in North America in November 2018, and Australia/New Zealand in February 2019.

Royal Caribbean launches stateroom bidding program in Australia and New Zealand

19 Feb 2019

Guests from Australia or New Zealand can now bid to upgrade their stateroom via the RoyalUp program.

RoyalUp is Royal Caribbean's stateroom bidding program, where the cruise line may offer guests the opportunity to bid for a higher stateroom category by inviting them to submit an offer of their choice. If the offer is accepted, the guests will be automatically charged and upgraded.

Royal Caribbean launched the program in North America in November 2018.

Terms and conditions apply. For more information, head to

Royal Caribbean to introduce bid-based stateroom upgrade program

26 Nov 2018

Royal Caribbean is introducing a new bid-based stateroom upgrade program, known as RoyalUp.

RoyalUp begins on November 28, 2018. Guests will receive an email if their sailing is eligible and they will have the opportunity to browse through staterooms available for upgrade on their sailing. They will select the dollar amount they are willing to pay for the upgrade and submit their bid.

The RoyalUp offer amount is per person for the entire duration of the cruise. Offers are based on two occupants per stateroom - only the first and second guest will be charged. If there are more than 2 guests in the reservation (between 2 and 5 passengers), the offer amount submitted will be per guest but only for the first and second guest on the reservation.

Guests cannot choose the location or specific features of the upgraded cabin, as it depends on availability.


In terms of groups,  Royal Caribbean cannot guarantee that all reservations traveling together will be upgraded. Under the circumstance that all reservations are upgraded, Royal Caribbean cannot guarantee that all the upgraded cabins will be close together.

Guests can make bids across multiple categories to increase your chances of having an offer accepted. If using a travel agent, they can handle the entire bidding process for you.


Upgrade bids can be accepted anytime from the moment it is submitted up until 2 days prior to voyage departure. You will receive an email notifying you of the accepted offer.

Guests can modify or cancel the offer up until 2 days prior to departure, provided that the offer has not already been accepted by RCI and provided their credit card has not been charged.

What do you think of this new offer? Will you be using it? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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