Royal Caribbean Introduces “Royal Up” Bid-based Cabin Upgrade Program

November 26, 2018.

In an email to travel partners, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has announced the Royal Up cabin upgrade bidding program.  The program will begin on November 28, 2018.

This type of sales program was first rolled out by Norwegian Cruise Line and then Celebrity Cruises started its own version, so it was a matter of time before RCI jumped on the auction bandwagon.

How does RoyalUp work?

According to the travel partner email the program works as follows:

  • booked clients will receive an email if their sailing is eligible and will have the opportunity to browse through various stateroom options with associated minimum bids.
  • They will select the dollar amount they are willing to pay for the upgrade. Making a bid on multiple categories will increase their chance of being upgraded — but they’ll only pay for one upgrade.
  • Their bid is priced per person and based on two guests per stateroom for the entire length of their cruse. Only the first and second guest will be charged, even if four are sailing.
  • Offers will be accepted up to 2 days prior to sailing and charged to the credit card used when the upgrade was submitted.
  • The travel agent will also have the ability to handle the bidding on the clients’ behalf.  The agent will be notified of the bidding opportunity at the same time as the client.

So – RCI will contact clients directly even if they didn’t book direct with the cruise line, but instead used a travel agent.  The client (you) will see a minimum bid for each available upgrade and can submit that minimum (a sure way to lose the auction), or go higher, and you can bid on one or several upgrades depending on how many higher categories are available.  And, bidding will stay open until 2 days prior to sailing so the process could last for several days or more.  The words “how high can it go?” spring to mind.

For travel partners the deal is good if a client’s bid is accepted, because they’ll get whatever higher commission is involved, even if the client did all the work for the bidding.

However, the fine print is always worth reading and this new program has lengthy fine print.  It’s longer than the actual message in the email, by far.

Key points in the fine print are:  you pay any higher gratuities associated with the winning bid for a higher category cabin (in other words, you “win” a suite upgrade).  However, even though you are paying for an upgrade by bidding for it, you will NOT get additional Crown & Anchor points if the upgrade moves you to a suite.  C&A points will still be based on the cabin category initially booked.

Put me down as being “not a fan” of this.  You can read the original email and significantly long fine print at this link.