Q: How to get an upgrade on Carnival cruise?

A: A question that is often asked is how to get an upgrade on a cruise. What I have been told previously by a travel agent, was to book early. The reason I was given was that the cheaper cabins sell more easily. So the people who book early are upgraded to better cabins, to free up the less expensive cabins that are easier to sell.
I emailed Carnival Cruise Lines and asked them the same question. They emailed me back “Please be advised that upgrades depend on the sailing and we recommend that booking early is the best way to obtain the best rate/upgrade available.”
Also, when you book, book the lowest category that you will accept with a Category Guarantee. A Category Guarantee means you are guarenteed that category or better. Since they usually sell more Category Guarantees for a category than there are cabins in that category, some people are going to get an upgrade. These upgrades are first come, first serve. Another reason to book early. We have always booked Category Guarantee, and we have always been upgraded at least one category, but usually two. Our early itineraries were marked TBA (To Be Announced) for the cabin number, since it wasn’t assigned yet. It wasn’t until we got our tickets shortly before the cruise date that we actually find out what our cabin is, and how much we have been upgraded. This last cruise we had an outside cabin with french doors, but an obstructed view. We had a lifeboat blocking our view. We could still open the door for fresh air, and could see some ocean. But then again, we don’t tend to spend a lot of time in the cabin anyway.
I have heard rumors that past guests are likely to get better upgrades. I don’t know if there is any truth to that. But as a past cruiser with 4 Carnival cruises under my belt, I would like to think it is true.
Another way to get upgrades is to watch for specials. I have seen many specials advertised by travel agencys, and even Carnival themselves, that if you book during special sale events, that you can get a free 2 category upgrade. Generally when I have booked early, I have been upgraded 2 categories. So I don’t know if I got the 2 category upgrade during the special, whether I would be upgraded further for booking early.

These strategies may work with other cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Princess, etc) as well.

Well, that’s as much as I know on how to get an upgrade on a Carnival cruise.