How to Find Out if Your Cruise Ship is Full? (Unsold Cabins)

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Junior Suite on Harmony of the Seas

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Whether you want to determine your odds of winning a cabin upgrade or you’re looking to score big discounts on unsold cruise cabins, it’s good if you know how to find out if your cruise ship is full.

While cruise lines are reluctant to share occupancy numbers on upcoming cruises, you can use a clever trick to find unsold cabins.

You can find out if your cruise ship is full by creating a mock booking on the cruise line’s website or a cruise booking website. By checking how many cabins are available to book, you’ll know how full your cruise ship is booked.

Keep reading to learn more about finding your cruise occupancy and getting deals on unsold cruise cabins.

How to Find Out if Your Cruise Ship is Full?

Junior Suite on Harmony of the SeasPin
Junior Suite on Harmony of the Seas (Credit: Royal Caribbean International)

Most cruise lines don’t provide an easy way to see how full a cruise ship is sailing. Instead, you can find out if your cruise ship is full by creating a mock booking to see the available cabins.

Creating a mock booking gives you a good idea of how close your cruise ship is to being sold out.

During the booking process, you’ll be asked to choose your cabin. While picking a cabin, you can see which cabin categories are sold out and how many staterooms are available.

You won’t know exactly how many passengers are booked for your sailing, but it gives you a good approximation.

If you only have a couple of cabins to choose from, it’s a good indication that your cruise is close to selling out. But if you find several dozen staterooms available to book, you’ll know your cruise is sailing under capacity.

Most cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line, do a good job of showing the number of available cabins. Some of the other best websites to book a cruise show a complete deck plan highlighting unsold cruise cabins.

Additionally, a good travel agent can check the availability of your itinerary and let you know how close your cruise is to be sold out.

Why Should You Care About Unsold Cruise Cabins?

Virgin Voyages Cabin Refresh RenderingPin
(Rendering Courtesy: Virgin Voyages)

There are several reasons why you should care about unsold cruise cabins.

First, if you’re on the fence about booking the sailing, it’s important to remember that prices rise as cabins sell out.

The best time to book a cruise is right when tickets go on sale and the cruise ship is full of empty cabins. As people book their cabin accommodations and the cruise ship fills up the cruise price rises.

If you can’t book your cruise months in advance, it’s good to check how many cabins are available.

If only a few cabins are available to book, you know that prices may rise. And if you wait too long, the cruise may be sold out when you go to book.

Balcony Cabin on Princess Cruise ship with upscale, modern decorPin
(Photo Credit: Princess Cruises)

Another reason passengers check for unsold cruise cabins is to wait for last-minute discounts. Many people try to snag unsold cruise cabins at rock-bottom prices.

While we believe you get the best cruise fare by booking your cruise well in advance of the sailing date, there are times when you can find substantially discounted cruise fares on unsold cabins.

Huge last-minute discounts on cruise fares don’t appear often, and you won’t have much time to prepare (usually only a few days or a couple of weeks at most). With such short notice, you’ll need to be flexible with your vacation time and itinerary choices if you decide to book with last-minute discounts, as you may not have many itineraries, ships, or sailing duration choices.

Silversea's Silver Moon Veranda SuitePin
Silversea’s Silver Moon Veranda Suite (Photo Credit: Silversea Cruises)

Finally, many people keep an eye on their cruise ship occupancy when they bid on a cabin upgrade.

Many cruise lines allow guests to place a bid on unsold cabins. If no one books the stateroom, the highest bidder receives an upgrade, usually at a discounted price.

Bidding on a cabin upgrade is exciting. You’ll usually find one or two posts daily in most cruise Facebook groups asking questions about how high to bid and their chances for an upgrade.

On our 2022 Alaska cruise on Serenade of the seas, we one an upgrade from our interior cabin to an oceanview stateroom for less than $150 per person.

The same cabin would’ve cost us nearly $500 per person if we had booked it from the start.

Everything Can Change When the Final Payment is Due

A queen bed and tv in the owner's suite on Royal Caribbean Mariner of the SeasPin
Owner’s Suite on Mariner of the Seas

Just because your cruise looks sold out, it doesn’t mean it will stay that way.

When you book a cruise, you’ll pay a small deposit to reserve your cabin, with the remainder due closer to the sailing date.

It’s common for people to change their minds or have other circumstances that prevent them from embarking on their cruise vacation. On the payment date, it’s always possible that previously reserved cabins become available if people cancel their booking.

If you’ve checked the cabin availability before the payment date, it’s good to check a few days after the final payment is due to see if more staterooms become available.

What Do Cruise Ships Do With Unsold Cabins?

A photo of the ocean view cabin on Serenade of the SeasPin

When cruise ships have unsold cabins, the cruise line may reduce the price as the sailing date approaches. If there are many unsold cabins in the weeks before embarkation, some cruise lines give big discounts to fill the ship.

Last-minute cruise deals were pretty common in the past. But they aren’t common anymore.

Increased demand for cruise vacations is part of the reason. But cruise lines are reluctant to provide big discounts on unsold cabins on cruise ships.

If cruise lines always provide last-minute deals, passengers will wait to purchase their cruise at lower prices. Cruise lines work a great deal to protect their pricing.

Instead, many cruise lines will provide smaller discounts or add extra perks like beverage packages, onboard credit, or wifi plans.

With the popularity of cabin upgrade auctions, many cruise lines don’t mind sailing with unsold cabins as long as they can make back some money from upgrade bids.

Article by

Marcello De Lio

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