How to Get a Cruise Cabin Upgrade for Free (or Cheap) If you want to upgrade your cruise cabin, the best time to do it is when you’re buying. Look at any of the big online cruise agencies, and you’ll see a notice that says “upgrades available” or such on some of the listings. That means you can pay for a certain category but will be assigned a higher-classed cabin immediately, effectively giving you a free cruise cabin upgrade. However, promotions of that sort aren't likely to get you from an inside cabin to a balcony. Best Time to Get a Cruise Cabin Upgrade You generally find the best cruise prices within three to four weeks prior to sailing, when the cruise line is pretty sure about occupancy on an upcoming cruise. Typically you find big cruise cabin upgrades or other promotional deals are limited to cruises that aren’t selling as well as the cruise line planned. Arranging a Cruise Cabin Upgrade with a Travel Agent Another approach to nabbing a cruise cabin upgrade is to ask your travel agent about arranging an upgrade ... ... which is sometimes feasible, especially if your agent is tight with the cruise line you’re using. Cruise lines keep track of regular cruisers, and if you’re a repeat customer, the line might well offer you a cabin upgrade without your even asking. But unless you’re an “elite level” cruise customer, you’ll never even get wind of such a deal. As with chancy airline upgrades, once you buy a cabin, be prepared to stay in that cabin.