What is a Cabin Category Guarantee?
When you make a booking, you will be asked whether you want to select a specific cabin at the time of booking, or, allow the cruise line to select the cabin for you just prior to departure – this is known as a "Cabin Category Guarantee".
A "Guarantee" is typically the lowest price for the given category, and, allows the cruise line to sell other cabin assignments at a higher cost. The benefit to the end consumer is that whatever the cruise line has left over will be assigned to the "Guarantee" passengers. This means that you might pay $1,000 for a "Guarantee" and get a cabin that would otherwise sell for $1,200. In rare instances, if the cruise line is out of cabins in your category, they may need to move you up to the next category (ex.–from an Inside cabin to an Outside Cabin, from a Balcony Cabin to a Suite).
However, booking a "Guarantee" can be like playing Russian Roulette – there are potential risks when booking a "Guarantee". You will not be able to select where on the ship your cabin is located. If you are traveling with a group with multiple cabins your cabins may end up being at opposite ends of the ship. Generally, it is the rare exception where you book a Guarantee rate for an inside category cabin and get put in an outside category cabin, or, book an outside Guarantee and get upgraded to a balcony. We are not saying it doesn't happen, but, it is very, very rare. For every 5 stories we hear that "I booked an inside guarnatee cabin and was upgraded to an outside cabin", we hear 50 stories that "I booked an inside guarantee cabin and got to the pier and found out I was given an inside cabin right underneath the disco..."
How it Works on Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival passengers may book a cabin type (Inside, Outside, Balcony) at a lower fare than the lowest specific category within that type or book a guarantee within a specific category at the normal fare for that category. Carnival begins assigning "Guarantee" cabins about 8 weeks prior to sailing. The quickest way to find out if you have been assigned a cabin is to check your reservation online. The majority of passengers are notified of their cabin assignment when they receive their documents in the mail or they are available to print online.
Other Names: Run Of the Ship (ROS)
Sometimes Run Of Ship is used interchangably with Cabin Category Guarantee. You are quoted a "Run of Ship" rate, but, are will end up with any cabin that is randomly assigned. Choosing a "Run of Ship" rate can get you a very low price, but, don't have high expectations for your cabin. The story of the person who books the Run of Ship rate and ends up in the owners suite is the exception. More often than not, you may end up in a inside cabin, or, a cabin in an undesirable location (like right underneath the disco).
Other Names: Minimum Category Guarantee
A Minimum Category Guarantee is similar to the Run of Ship rate, but, the difference is that you are guaranteed that your cabin will not be of a category lower than what is promised. So, a Minimum Category Guarantee is more desirable than Run of Ship, but, you have similar potential downsides obstructed view cabin, cabin underneath the disco, in a location that has excessive engine vibration, etc.
To learn about the advantages of locking-in your cabin selection, read our article, How to Select the Best Cabin on a Carnival Cruise.
Article Updated: February 24, 2011