In this case, the group space is being sold to businesses and charities and we are the add on cabins to these groups.
My biggest caveat: YOU DO NOT GET YOUR BOOKING # UNTIL THE GROUP IS CLOSED OUT. You will only get a confirmation in pdf form with your names, and gty category, and the group cruise #. Richard, the owner, says he doesnt know why this bothers Americans, except in the U.S. anyone can be a TA and TAs are not held to the higher standards UK travel agents are held to.
IMO the best way these work is if you are totally flexible. I have friends who will only do Carnival. ..but Carnival pulled away from supporting groups for a while and we had no Carnival offers for about 8 months. These are sold as all inclusive cruises, but it was found out that NCL adds tips that are not allowed to be removed, so now you have to click to sign a disclaimer .. but for a while all NCL cruises were removed until the TA's legal dept could figure it out.
I live in TX and naturally prefer going out of the gulf, but primarily the only choices are Carnival. My next 4 booked I have to fly to, so you have to add flight costs into the equation to decide if these are a good deal for you.
You are given a price to upgrade, which is set by the cruiselines, and may be a larger amount than the difference between the actual price of what you booked and the price of a balcony you want. I had a friend cancel who was upset by the upgrade costs. Example Carnival Conquest, booked a inside, and the upgrade price to a balcony is offered by Carnival at $360 pp plus the TA charges a fee of up to $100 for their work. (the actual price difference is only around $240 pp). So, I want to emphasize if you only want a balcony, you should only book offers that you can book a balcony directly with your miles/vouchers.
So, you never know which cruiselines, categories, ports or anything else will be next added.
You can only book one cruise every 120 days. Now its all automated and it will tell you online when you can book next. . well usually. Now he has a auctioned off cruise button, where you can bid even if you are on the 120 day wait. Things change, so Iv managed to book more than my share in spite of the rules to wait between bookings.
I will give you my costs for my cruises if Kuki allows it, but really what I paid may not be what the next person paid, due to the nature of auctions. So far, I seem to have paid more than anyone else I talked to on the actual cruises. If I say I paid $250 for my cruise for 2, someone else managed to get it cheaper by finding a seller in another part of the world that had cheaper prices. We have now been put into regions, so now its harder to find that german seller at half price.
My other tip is dont buy a bunch of vouchers ahead of time, as rules change, and what you bought might be bought half price later. As Im a shopaholic, this has come back to bite me so that Im paying more for my cruises than someone who waited to buy.
If you only want balconies, this also probably isnt for you, as often only insides, or insides and OVs are offered, its hard to find a offer that includes balconys. .. and upgrades are expensive and ruin the bargain.. again imo.
This is for that cruiser who just wants to try out new cruiselines and doesnt care which cabin they are assigned. There might be a dozen offers added for Celebrity, which Iv never done, and heard is mostly older .. but Im thinking of taking the plunge if there isnt a RCL cruise offered.
Because of the no discounting rules .. you do have to jump thru a few hoops to disguise the price, and it has gotten worse (Paul's eye rolling). Now you have to take the voucher, and change it to miles, not hard to me, and the cruise prices are listed in miles now. The ebay and other site sellers are not employed by the TA, further distancing them. Just cruisers who said hey Id like to sell the vouchers. They dont have any more inside knowledge than I do.
You will be seated with others in your group, who you probably wouldnt meet until dinner time at whichever dining time you choose. You cant choose anytime dining when you book. RCL for one requires you prepay tips and they arent going to deal with this.
If Kuki says I can post my prices .. again its just my prices. I know lots of people who paid much less and seem to find better bargains at the auctions than I do.
These are great bargains and a way to experience other cruiselines cheap but only for people that are totally flexible.
My main reason for wanting to post this is several times when I feel Im biting my lip when someone says you cant get discounted cruises .. you can if you are totally flexible. If not .. this is not for you.
My main problem has been buyers remorse. I booked Carnival Conquest the end of Sept, then 2 weeks later, for the same price, Carnival Magic was offered. I begged to be changed and no sooner got changed when he offered Disney Magic the same week (albeit about double the miles, but I would still have loved to try Disney Magic out of Galveston on the cheap).
I booked Oasis for Sept 3rd .. and then he offered Allure for Sept 4th for the same price. Naturally Id rather do Allure!!! its newer. You cant really plan for what will be offered next and they arent going to switch you around from cruise to cruise to cruise, so plan on taking whichever cruise you booked.
Anyway .. its interesting and doesnt have to be your only way of booking, just a now and again extra cruise on that cruiseline you never thought you might try.