Organizing a group cruise can lead to a free cruise for you and plenty of benefits for everyone on your group.
The fact is anyone can put together their own group cruise. All you have to do is contact a travel agent, and assume you have enough cruise friends who will commit and purchase enough cabins to qualify for the pricing and benefit-perks the cruise lines will supply for groups.
The very basic rule of thumb is that a group can earn the equivalent of one free cabin (minus the cost of port charges and taxes) for every 16 paid (double occupancy) cabins. In addition to that, the cruise lines group sales departments will offer added incentives, which vary sailing by sailing.
The cruise line's group departments assign "X" number of "amenity points" to each sailing. And it is up to the agent, or group leader, to choose from a menu of amenities, each "costing" a preset number of points (predetermined by the cruise line). The amenities might include a group cocktail party, or a bottle of champagne, or a tote bag, or a discount coupon book, or a shipboard credit, or a slight price reduction, and often many other choices as well. The number of points assigned are generally enough to "purchase" one, or at the most, two of these amenities.
Within the past several years many of the cruise lines have put policies in place that, to some extent, hinder everyone's ability to put together group cruises. If you've reserved group space, and the cabins in your group are not selling fast enough - of late the cruise lines are very quick to take back (reclaim) your group's unsold cabins. In some cases you only have 30 days to sell your group's cabins before they are taken back into inventory by the cruise line.
Above I've described the very basics of forming group cruises, and some people will believe that it's a relatively easy task. However, nothing could really be further from the truth. Imagine the time and work involved in coordinating with everyone you've discussed the possibility of a group cruise with, and getting them to agree on which ship, which date, and which itinerary. And even if you are successful in getting enough people to book a particular cruise, imagine the work involved in discussing, agreeing on, and pleasing people with regard to dinner assignments, cabin locations, and a multitude of other problems and questions that arise in people's minds as they prepare for the cruise.
Many people who have arranged their own group cruises in the past have wrote me to relate the problems they encountered trying to please everyone, and how much people within their groups have expected of them just because they were the ones who organized the groups.
To avoid these hassles there are many other options available to combine with, or join other existing group cruises. There are often numerous travel agencies offering group cruise space, at group pricing. They simply block group space, and then try and sell that space, as best they can. Some of the larger travel agencies even offer escorts for the larger groups. When you book into one of these travel agencies groups, the travel agent is most likely to incorporate their promotional costs into the price they charge you. And you can't blame them; they are in the business to make a profit on their sales.
Another option is to look at group cruise programs set up by various cruise related Internet web sites. Some of these sites allow their readers to create their own cruise groups, and to promote them on the web site, to have the readers of that web site join your group. The problem in that scenario is they allow you to chose from their "selected listed" of travel agents. And just like the cruise line's list of "recommended stores" these web sites are receiving payments from their "recommended agents". Plainly they are using your efforts and your group to make money for the web site.
They also restrict the group coordinator, and the group, to ONE free cabin, regardless of how many free cabins the group might earn. The dollar value of any excess tour conductor berths which are earned by your group are paid to the web site because of agreements they have with their "suggested list of agents". Clearly, they are simply out to make a profit from allowing "readers" to promote and build their own groups.
There are other web sites that put together and offer group cruises that you could book into, but offer no explanation at all of where the tour conductor berths or value of those berths goes. In most cases the natural conclusion would be that they are making money from that circumstance for themselves.
Why CruiseMates Group Cruises Are Different
At CruiseMates we're very happy to have and offer what we feel is undoubtedly the BEST group cruise program in the industry. We're especially proud to state that our goal is to make NO money for the web site from the group cruise program. We're also very pleased to share all the details of group cruise program with you, upfront.
The goal of our group cruises is to offer members of the CruiseMates community the opportunity to meet each other in person and cruise together, and to have a GREAT time doing so. Our goal is to do so while offering the very best prices and the very best value we can find on each and every group cruise that we offer.
Every cruise we chose to include in our group cruise program is put out for bids from a lengthy list of travel agents, who we know and trust. This system creates a competition, and therefore normally results in bids with pricing lower than you can find anywhere else.
You might wonder why travel agents would be interested in bidding on our group cruises if they are going to have to cut their prices, and therefore their profits below what they may be able to sell cruise for elsewhere. The answer is quite simply the massive exposure they get on the CruiseMates sites via their affiliation with our group cruise program.
Simply put, the advertising they receive by being chosen to act as an agent for our group cruises is worth thousands of advertising dollars to them.
The trust which CruiseMates shows in these travel agents is also a great reference for the agents in appealing to future cruisers business because of the reputation of integrity CruiseMates has established as an honest and independent source of cruise information since its inception. The agencies see great value in this affiliation in the way of future business, and are therefore willing to "sharpen their pencils" quite dramatically when bidding on our group cruises.
When requesting cruises quotes from travel agencies there are several criteria that they must include in their bids.
Every official CruiseMates Group cruise must be hosted by a CruiseMates staff member, and the travel agent is required to pay for the host's cabin.
We insist that any "amenity points" available on a sailing we chose be spent only on amenities for the group, like shipboard credits, etc. rather than any choices which may benefit the agent. Every CruiseMates Group Cruise must also include a complimentary cocktail party for all members of the group. When any of our groups sell over 32 cabins (double occupancy) the agency MUST supply an additional amenity to the group, which is chosen and agreed upon between the host and the agent. So the larger the group the more amenities those booked into the group will receive.
The ultimate fact in regard to our CruiseMates Group Cruises is our goal is to create and expand our wonderful CruiseMates Community Spirit onboard, and judging by the large number of members who have joined our CruiseMates group cruises over and over again, we think we're very successful at achieving our goal.
I've fully explained and exposed all the workings of our CruiseMates Group Cruise Program here so you all know how they are designed and exactly how it all comes together. However truly the most important thing you have to know is that you will have so much fun on our CruiseMates Group Cruises, and meet so many fine and fun people on them, there's no doubt in my mind that once you do one, you are going to be in a hurry to book the next one as soon as you possibly can.
Go to our CruiseMates Cruises