I would love to know if any of you have planned a group cruise with Carnival. I have a lot of friends and family that are interested in joining us next spring for a cruise. If you have any suggestions, hints, advice, please post. I'd be happy to hear about your experiences good or bad.
Of course I will contact the cruiseline/agent but I just want to get a grasp of how folks went about planning a group cruise.
Thanks for your help.
First off try to find out how many people may go for sure and which ship, location and dates that are acceptable to you. Also try to figure out what type category the people expect. Keep in mind that you can have several options it does not have to be narrowed down to one option.
One thing you should know is that a group cruise is NOT always cheaper than booking everyone on an individual basis. What the group cruise will do is give you some options for possible perks such as a private get together or a free berth if there are enough people. If you go with the group cruise DISCUSS what they will try to get for you as extras even though they will not fully know what is available until the know the exact number of bookings and final payments have been made.
Approach a TA and give them all your preliminary information and also let them know if you want the group opened to others that may book with you but are not sure if they will book with you. Give the TA a little time to do some research for the best deal. If you want to open it to others the TA can get information and flyers for you to provide to others to help you entice a few more people.
Make sure you and the TA fully understand what is expected by both of you and who will be the main contact.
Tip: Just from reading messageboards, I've learned that you MUST GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING! Don't just accept that some special little perk will be given to you because someone SAYS it. It must be clearly spelled out on paper. Also, & I learned this the hard way - most agencies and the cruiselines require that in order to get something like a free cabin thrown in, many times everyone MUST book within a 30 day window! (Free cabin is usually given for every so many cabins booked, but this can vary according to the price level of the cabins and number of people in them, etc. It can vary a bit by agency but there are some generally accepted standards on this.) And sometimes you may want to just divide the price of the free cabin up and deduct it from everyone's cabin so everyone shares in this perk (or the person who does all the work sometimes gets it.) And the person posting above is right: your price might be LESS if you book separately! Check it out both ways.
Last yr. we went on the Explorer in March. About l0 or ll mos. in advance we booked 2 cabins and our neighbors booked 2. We were taking some high school seniors along w/our our own kids. We used a popular agency we all see advertised on the internet and got good prices. I told the T/A that there very well could end up being as many as l0 cabins because I knew of others that were becoming interested in going. In the end, there were 27 cruisers who booked, and all contacted this agency and said they were part of our group. However, these parents and kids signed on at various times throughout the ensuing months, right up to January or February. Even before that some of the parents were asking if there had been any perks given, saying "we" should get some. I contacted our T/A, who indicated that we should have all booked within 30 days of each other in order to have qualified for any perks. He also pointed out that our price was different - meaning "better" - than what they charge groups, which was odd because he orig. told me we were getting a "group price"! I learned from RCCL that we were set up as a group and had been turned over to their group coordinator. I figured perhaps RCCL would do something for us. They, in turn, referred us back to the agency, saying it was their responsibility. Agency said it was RCCL's! I even said, "Well, how about just a free bottle of wine or something for the cabins w/parents in them?" Agency would always say, "We'll see what we can do." Which resulted in their finally saying "nothing". One of the late bookers told me she would book w/someone else because she didn't feel this was fair. I told her to save herself the trouble and just book w/the same agency as it wasn't worth the aggravation, but she felt it was the principal of the thing and the agency lost a cabin booking for 3, as well as good will, which they no doubt would have had for giving out one bottle of wine to the 6 cabins with parents in them! So, live and learn. And be ready for some work ahead! Good luck!
Deal with a travel agent. First, though see how many people are definitely going to go. The amount to book a group is 8 cabins. Deposit is usually with 30 days . and I say that because if people are really interested they will come with the initial deposit. As a
travel agent, and 15 years experience I inform my client , is to get $100 PP UP FRONT as the initial deposit to get the group to commit. Each cruise line has what they call points or amenities for each sailing date, and WITH 8 CABINS, NOT ONLY WILL ONE BERTH BE FREE (LESS PORT FEES AND GOVT. FEES) but you might get, ship board credit per cabin, 1 Cat. up grade, $$ off per cabin, bottle of wine or fruit basket per cabin. It depends on the cruise line, sailing date and amount of sailing days.
If you have atlest 5 to 6 couples then contact your travel agent and let her or him contact the cruise line, as many agencies belong to a corsortium that might provide A better price for your group, then dealing directly with Carnival or a cruise line. I know because we are a Virtuoso agency, we are considered a select agency with various cruise lines and we get some great rates and deals for our clients.
Deal with a travel agent, and not the internet, because you will be able to deal with them
Also find out how long of a time you will have to get all 8 cabins booked, Once the agent has booked group space for you, she or he will tell you when the first deposit is required and how much, then a 2nd deposit will be required to make the actual deposit of $250 PP that is normally required when a cabin , normally with Carnival and most cruise lines now ( a deposit of $250 PP is required with 24 hours to 3 days.)
Remember the balance is due usually 70 -75 days prior to sailing date. So I advise you to get the full deposit of $250 PP as soon as possible, then tell them that if they want they can pay on it weekly or monthly. This way there won't be a problem of not having all the money collected when the balance is due.
All the above advice is good. My advice is DON'T DO IT!!!!!
I organized a family reunion cruise last summer and boy was it a nightmare. "Can you book it the following week? Little Johnny has a soccer match that week."/ "We may not be able to go that week because in laws are thinking of visiting" / "Should we book the two kids in our room or get them a separate room?" / "Why are you booking that hotel? I can get a better rate at this hotel on Travelocity?" blah, blah, blah!
I would advise you to pick a week, pick a cruise, and stick with it. Some people are going to be upset because that week or that cruise doesn't suit them, but so be it!
And then find a travel agent and refer everyone to the TA!
We are leaving on Truimph March 27 with 19 people....10 adults and 9 kids. Our most experienced cruiser has taken over as our "director" but we have been dealing directly with a cruise agent. All the $$ issues were dealt directly with the agent....don't want $$ coming between friends. We all happen to have kids that have spring break together and our attitude was that if you could go - great, and if not, sorry but maybe next time! We all have agreed that we don't follow anyone's agenda - this is a vacation for each of us and we can do what we want. We have a list of excursions and have chosen some to do...but not everyone will be doing them.
The secret is to be flexible and not to get caught up and worry about everyone else - they are adults (or at least some will be) and can make choices for themselves.
I say go for it. What fun to talk about in the years to come, you'll have lots of "Remember when 's" to share with these special people you have chosen to spend precious vacation time with.
Sailing on group cruise is normally LOTS of fun... but they don't just happen. There can be a considerable amount of work involved.
First off, you should be working with a travel agent who has alot of group cruise experience, rather than directly with the cruise lines. An agent can negotiate a lot of value added bonuses for you.
Everything from cabin upgrades, complimentary cocktail parties, group photos, shipboard credits, free champagne or wine etc., can be negotiated, particularily if you're flexible, and can choose some of the less popular sailing dates.
The norm for groups is one free berth for every 8 cabins booked (the cost of prt chges and taxes has to paid), but on some sailing that the cruise lines may want to push, this could be reduced to one free berth for every 5 cabins booked.
Once you get a chose a ship and get a deal in place, it helps to increase the fun, planning some group activities onboard. Of course, no one is obligated to attend, but we've also found people in the groups appreciate the social gatherings, and even some group excursions.
I agree with all the advice given above on booking a group cruise,as Ihave been in charge of our group of eight to ten couples the last five cruises we went on.One thing that Ihavent seen mentioned above is dont assume just because you all booked together that you will be side by side in your cabins.This may not be an issue with you but it is with us,as we book balcony cabins and love to open the partitions between.Nothing much more fun than sharing seventy feet of open balcony with your friends and family. (partitions can also be easily closed for those private times if you know what I mean!)
I do our Group every 2 yrs. It is a lot of work. But in the long run have been loads of fun. So get a good TA and go from there. I have a great TA and she is my biggest help with everything I need to do or know. Make sure you have those sign up that are sure they are going. A Deposit is a good idea. that means they are sure they want to go. Non refundable .. U tell them that. Then u will find out if they are really true on going. Its the greatest fun. Happy cruising....