Q – We’ve been enjoying traveltruth for a long time. We sail the better cruise lines and have used the same Denver agent for years. But our friends, just got back from an NCL cruise got upgraded by their travel agent the first time they used her. Should our travel agent be upgrading us? If we switched over to you, would we be upgraded. Our current agent seems knowledgeable and provides good service, but if we can get upgraded at no additional charge we would throw you our business. Will look forward to your response. Please do not use my name.
A – We never make the names of our clients or web site guests public. If you “throw” us your business we will toss it back. Stick with your current agent as it sounds like she is providing more than adequate service.
You generally get upgrades on the better lines via a formal VIP upgrade request process. This requires your agent to provide biographical information to the cruise lines sales department. The request then goes to the dispatch supervisor for your particular ship. VIP status is generally granted to individuals with significant accomplishments of a level sufficient for them to be considered “influential”. Cruise lines like to upgrade those they feel are in a position to influence large groups to book their ships.
Your friends likely received an automatic booking upgrade, a technique used on larger, mass market lines. Under these programs, nearly everyone booking during a certain timeframe is given a complimentary upgrade. This is in lieu of an additional booking discount. It actually saves the cruise line money versus more typical booking incentive cash offers.
Finally, be aware that on the luxury end of the cruise market, top-end suites are often the first to sell out. Every cruise revenue yield executive assumes that guests talk about pricing issues. They are very careful to avoid alienating those who have committed early to pay the extra cost of top accommodations.
Our advice: Choose your agent on the basis of who they are and their likely clout should there ever be a problem. Most of what is written about upgrades is nonsense.