I’ve had this question many times over the years – “What does GTY mean?” or “What is a guaranteed cabin?” Simply put, GTY or guarantee just means that you are booking either a certain type of room or minimum category of room on a cruise. There are two times where this will happen.
First is when you book a particular category on a ship and all of the room numbers have been assigned. Cruise lines know that everyone who books a particular date will not actually sail on that particular date. They want to fill up the ships however. After years of filling up cruises, they have a pretty good idea of the percentage of reservations that will cancel before the cruise date. Once all the room numbers have been taken, they feel comfortable selling a certain percentage of rooms above the total number of rooms in a category. Once that number is hit though, the category is sold out. So what happens if they guess wrong and not as many people cancel their reservation? The rooms that can’t be assigned within a category will be upgraded to a higher category, for no additional cost. This doesn’t mean if you received a GTY assignment that you have a better shot of getting an upgrade than someone who got a stateroom assigned. The cruise line could say Family A (with an assignment) booked a long time ago so we will offer them an upgrade and give Family B (with a GTY) their current stateroom.
Rooms of this sort are generally not reduced in price. Yes, you are taking a risk that you’ll get a room that you aren’t happy with but you could get an upgrade.
The second type of GTY is a guaranteed room type. Generally speaking this is inside, ocean view or balcony. For these you will book a guaranteed room type and you could be assigned a room in any of the categories of that same type. A guaranteed inside will mean you will get an inside cabin – any inside cabin, but it is not likely you would get an ocean view or balcony.
These rooms are discounted, many times not coming available until much closer to the cruise date. There can be restrictions with these rooms as well. With Disney Cruise Line, the restricted guaranteed staterooms cannot be put on a courtesy hold. You must have all the correct names, dates of birth, etc. at the time of booking. Name changes are not permitted and full payment is due at the time of booking. The reservation is non-refundable. These can be great deals when you are sure of your travel plans.
I know that some people have a problem with discounts like these coming out after the final payments are due as they are not able to take advantage of the discount if they booked far in advance. The reason that you book far in advance is to get a lower price than most, guarantee your room location and assignment and get started on the planning. The discounted rates are used to fill up the ships. These are really for last minute planners. Be aware that some cruise lines will not allow you to get a better rate if one comes available once you have booked. Many will not allow you to cancel and rebook as well.
With most GTY assignments, you have little recourse to get a new room assignment once your room is assigned. You should only book a room that is on GTY if you are willing to accept what you get assigned, regardless of where it is on the ship. Additionally, you may not receive your assignment until very close to sailing. With the first type of GTYs, I have seen room assignments around 30 days or more prior to a sailing. With the second type, I have seen it go until a day or two before the sailing.