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  #1 (permalink)  
Old October 9th, 2008, 05:32 PM
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Default Group Cruises

How would you suggest going about organizing a group cruise? I am considering putting one together for sometime next year, but am unsure where to start.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 02:55 AM
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Gather your friends together and try and decide together when the best time of year to cruise would be, what lines they might be interested in, and where they want to go.

Once you have at least some perameters contact a number of different cruise travel agents, and start asking questions. Do your very best to find someone very familiar with group cruising. It does make a big difference!!

Shop for the best deal, but for the best service too.

Once you pick a cruise, have everyone considering the cruise deal with the agent directly, to answer all their questions, and to book their own trips. If you try and do this stuff on behalf of everyone you'll run into problems, and could ruin some relationships.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 08:22 AM
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Well, my situation is I am trying to build a group with friends and friends of friends, and the majority will be first time cruisers(I won't be however) so I am selecting about 3 or 4 reasonably priced lines because of this and then going from there. I will be acting as both a group leader and the booking agent. I do think word of mouth will help alot. It is basically establishing the basics at the outset. I know it will have to be during the summer since most of the people will be college students. Any suggestions on cruise legnth?
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Old October 10th, 2008, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
I will be acting as both a group leader and the booking agent
If you're not a travel agent, I have no idea why you'd want to be the "booking agent". You're only asking for trouble.

Organizing the CruiseMates Group Cruise program is part of my responsibility. The LAST thing I would want to do is be the agent selling the cruises or the responsibilities that goes with that.

If you intend to book everyone yoursef directly with the cruise lines, you're simply not going to find the best deal and possible added amenities a knowledgable cruise travel agent will find for you. But if that's the route you choose, good luck
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Old October 10th, 2008, 12:22 PM
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In this particular case, I will be both a travel agent and a group leader/member. I am basically going to be working through a host agency, and am taking the dual role very seriously, to the point of possibly cutting out some or all of the commission. It is a most complicated concept, but the basic idea behind this is a way to build a client list by showing them first hand what cruising can be like, plus for those with experience it allows them to get experience with me if they have booked on their own previously before. It is only an idea right now, but am basically just looking for tips on how to handle the initial steps. Once I have that worked out, I can take it from there.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brad813
In this particular case, I will be both a travel agent and a group leader/member. I am basically going to be working through a host agency, and am taking the dual role very seriously, to the point of possibly cutting out some or all of the commission. It is a most complicated concept, but the basic idea behind this is a way to build a client list by showing them first hand what cruising can be like, plus for those with experience it allows them to get experience with me if they have booked on their own previously before. It is only an idea right now, but am basically just looking for tips on how to handle the initial steps. Once I have that worked out, I can take it from there.
Have fun and I hope you have the patience and the time to invest in this.

Good luck,
Mike
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Old October 10th, 2008, 03:05 PM
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I look at it as a learning experience that will better enable me to professionally conduct business as a travel agent. The idea came to me to do a group cruise since I have been talking to friends about my plans and many of them seemed interested, so why not build a group cruise up and have a week long party at sea. I know as the group director I will be expected to handle problems(typical of me really since I tend to be the peacekeeper and organizer in my group of friends anyway).
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Old October 10th, 2008, 03:27 PM
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I would be most concerned on your behalf about the money. I have had problems in the past even with a very small group of friends. WHen I was young and naive, I thought that everyone was responsible enough to pay me when the bill came due. Not so. Got stiffed big time. We're not longer friends.
When you are an agent employed with a travel agency, you are not risking your own money.
Be careful, Brad.
Marty
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Old October 10th, 2008, 03:53 PM
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The money issue is taken care of because if they can't pay in full, I will cancel their reservation when it comes due. Even though it would be friends and friends of friends, I am still thinking it should be done in a professional manner in order to avoid confusion and people trying to take advantage of people. In short, I don't book their ticket until I have their deposit in hand. I picked that up from group cruises I have looked at from established companies.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:08 PM
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Just curious...since a lot of people book using a credit card, how will you handle that?
Marty
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:15 PM
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POST DELETED, SEE SUBSEQUENT POST. THANKS
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:15 PM
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That gives me a question to think about. Small detail though. Any suggestions on cruise lines that seem to work well with groups?
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:21 PM
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PLEASE TAKE KUKI'S ADVICE. 'FRIENDS AND FRIENDS OF FRIENDS ARE NOT LIKELY TO BE FRIENDS AND FRIENDS OF FRIENDS' IS YOU PURSUE THIS. I TRIED IT A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO. IT WASN'T BAD BECAUSE I HAD A TA IN CHARGE WHO KNEW WHAT SHE WAS DOING. BUT SOMEONE BROKE A HIP IN ROME, ANOTHER HAD SERIOUS MOBILITY PROBLEMS, AND ON AN ON. SOME WANTED TO CANCEL; OTHERS WANTED IN AT THE LAST MINUTE. WITHOUT SHIRLEY, THE TA, IT WOULD HAVE ALL FALLEN IN MY LAP. LET ME ASSURE YOU, ONCE YOU DO THIS YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE RESPECT FOR A GOOD TA. IT IS NOT AS SIMPLE AS YOU SEEM TO THINK IT IS. HOMBRE
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:25 PM
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Default group cruise advice

I'm getting ready to leave on my 8th cruise as a group leader. We all dance, but the TA does not, so I feel more comfortable answering all the group activity questions and handling the marketing and logistics. BUT anything to do with reservations, money, insurance, special requests, etc. go straight to my TA. She earns her commission, every penny and then some. My groups average from 20 to 40 people. I would have NO life or sanity during the 6 or so months leading up to the cruise if my TA wasn't so great. She travels with us on most of the cruises to handle any problems like illness or emergencies.
Gayle
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:29 PM
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Hombre, nothing is ever simple. That is why I am intending to set up rules and policies. Basically, I was going to do the bookings through my own agency, but also handle the group coordination along with one or two other people. I will delegate some of it, but I will be the one responsible for actual bookings.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:30 PM
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You asked about which cruise lines are easiest to work with. My TA and I really love how Celebrity handles us -- they're the best, hands down. Carnival, NCL, Costa and RCCL have been fine. For college students, I'd say they would like the big RCCL , NCL and Carnival ships for the activity level and party atmosphere.
Gayle
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:34 PM
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College students is how it is shaping up so far, but I am leaning toward Royal Caribbean for the Freedom or Voyager classes due to the sheer number of activities for people of all ages. They are also fairly affordable.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:44 PM
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Another thought. If college kids are your primary group or a large part of it, find out about age policies of the various cruise lines. Carnival, for example, requires people be over 21 or have someone over 25 in the same cabin. You can't even book otherwise. Sneak tip...you can rearrange who is in which cabin once you get on board, so long as the over 25's are in an adjoining cabin to the under 21 passengers. Do a lot of researcH!
mARTY
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:49 PM
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brad, if you do succeed in organizing this cruise for your college buddies, please let us all know well in advance, so those who choose won't be on board. if they are all as naive as you seem to be, who knows what will happen. please, please, take kuki's advice. invite friends, work with a good ta, let him or her handle things, and just relax -- maybe even learn to skate. you are a positive and idealistic person, someone i'd like to meet. do the best thing. hombre
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:52 PM
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I know the rules quite well. I am particularly paying attention to ages on this so I can match the people up well. This will be my second or third cruise next year. I have no illusion this will be easy, but I feel up to the task.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 04:56 PM
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The one thing you fail to realize is that I am building a business as a travel agent. I am by no means naive. I understand what is expected. Also, not my college buddies, but a friend who is interested will be able to get some of his friends involved I am sure. There is no particular purpose or age group for this cruise other than just to have fun.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 05:21 PM
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brad, just don't market 'fun ships for fun buddies' as your motto -- it's already been done, and they have backed away from it. padre
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Old October 10th, 2008, 05:26 PM
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I am not trying to. I am mostly just "testing the waters"(no pun intended) for group cruises. Have to start somewhere after all.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 06:17 PM
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Apparently I did overlook something and will need to adjust my thinking a bit. However, it isn't necessarily a bad idea that I had.
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Old October 11th, 2008, 10:48 AM
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I was just curious......how many rooms must be booked for it to be considered a group cruise?
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Old October 11th, 2008, 11:27 AM
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Depends on the line, but with Carnival I think it starts at 8 staterooms(roughly 16 people). If I am not wrong, on Royal Caribbean it starts at 16 staterooms. I was going to shoot for a 25 staterooms but misinterpreted a policy. It did occur to me that a travel agency would do well to build a group cruise for first time cruisers every few months to introduce them to cruising. It is just a concept that makes sense.
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Old October 11th, 2008, 12:19 PM
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I admire your ambition, Brad. Good luck with getting 50 people to do anything together, but especially college students who don't have much disposable income. The money "objection" comes up WAAAAYYY more often than scheduling conflicts.

Most of my clientele is either single or an empty-nest couple who have a common interest in social dancing ("affinity group" is what I've heard the pros call it) AND have some money.

My trips aren't preplanned for ship or itinerary or even dates. I watch for a "steal" that will tempt everybody regardless of their budget. I appeal to their "how can I afford to miss this" logic (it always works on me! lol) and their not wanting to miss out on something all their friends are doing.

Even with lots of promotion and about a 3000 person email list, it's lots of work for me to get 30 people to go.

I'm just telling you this so you won't beat yourself up when sales don't measure up to your expectations.

Gayle
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Old October 11th, 2008, 12:41 PM
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I would just adapt. My main thinking here is booking groups is a much easier way to get my 25 cabins sold for my cruise counselor certification than trying to book each one as individuals. I thought the internet may be a good idea to do this. I just have to be careful on alot of this, due to laws.
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Old October 12th, 2008, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brad813
I would just adapt. My main thinking here is booking groups is a much easier way to get my 25 cabins sold for my cruise counselor certification than trying to book each one as individuals. I thought the internet may be a good idea to do this. I just have to be careful on alot of this, due to laws.
on our first cruise we made the mistake of booking during spring break. that might be a good place to start with collage studants
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Old October 12th, 2008, 02:59 PM
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We all wish you well, of course... everything sounds good in theory, on paper, but in acuality, things don't usually go that way....good luck, but tuck what has been said, by people who have been thee and done that, in the back of your mind.....
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