From a few extra square feet to a balcony cabin, any upgrade on a cruise can feel like hitting the jackpot. But, like airline and hotel upgrades, the odds of scoring a better room on a cruise are slim. While there’s no guarantee, these five tips will increase your chances of getting a cabin upgrade on your next cruise.

Look for Promotions

There are several ways to find out about free upgrades or balcony rooms for the same price you will pay for inside and outside cabins. One, be sure to sign up for a variety of cruise line’s electronic newsletters or email blasts. This is the quickest way to find out when cruise companies are running promotions or looking to fill rooms.  Another way to discover the best promotions is to work with a travel agent specializing in cruises. Travel agents are privy to firsthand knowledge of upcoming promotions and exclusive deals.

Become a Loyalty Member

Many cruises lines reward returning customers. Be sure to sign up for cruise loyalty programs and sail the same cruise line often. You may score a balcony cabin for the price of an oceanview room or have the chance to grab a discounted upgrade. Royal Caribbean’s has one of the best loyalty programs around. The Crown & Anchor Society offers great incentives even at their lowest levels. Gold members receive reduced rate upgrades when available.  Crystal Cruise Line’s Crystal Society members may receive free milestone level upgrades based on the discretion of the Crystal Society Department.

Wait Until Leaving The First Port to Ask for an Upgrade

The day of embarkation usually means long lines at Guest Relations. Wait until after you’ve visited the first port to ask for an upgrade. There are a few reasons for this. One, Guest Relations will have a better idea of occupancy based on no shows or guests who had to leave the ship at the first port unexpectedly. Another reason is that passengers who do not make embarkation can catch the cruise at the first port. Once the ship has left the first port, there’s a more accurate occupancy count.

Book A Guaranteed Cabin

When you book a “guaranteed” cabin, you are essentially reserving a category, not a specific cabin. You’ll be assigned your cabin a few weeks before departure in at least the category you booked or higher. On the one hand, if your category is full, there is a good chance for an upgrade. The downside is you don’t get to choose the location of your cabin or the deck.

Be Savvy When Choosing your Sailing

Look into ships and dates when planning your cruise. Some helpful hints: Book a ship with a high number of balcony staterooms. Cruise ships like to sail full. Chances are, closer to departure, they will sell the inside cabins at lower prices and offer confirmed passengers discounted or complimentary upgrades. Book during “wave season” January through March, when cruise lines offer great promotions. Or, choose repositioning cruises, when cruise lines relocate the ship to a different port. These cruises often include more at sea days and are not as popular, thereby featuring great deals. As with any upgrades, choose a room you are happy with and anything extra is just a bonus!