Hi Kuki - first time posting... and don't know where to ask this.....
I have booked a family cruise directly with RCCL (Enchantment Feb 18-23, 2006). I am also a Platinum Crown & Anchor member. I rallied 7 other families to join us and have all paid their deposits and have booking #s. I called RCCL (Group Bookings line) when I had 6 families booked and told them I would probably have total 8 cabins booked soon which would meet the requirement for the Group label. They said the cruise was not open presently for group bookings but to call back another time. I thought that was pretty lame customer service. For one, I am not a travel agent, just an avid fan of travel who happened to get alot of people excited to join us on this cruise. In all, we have 28 people going - staying in 8 cabins so far. There may be a few more. Who should I contact to get into an official RCCL Group? And to get the special discounts? As you know, this can be alot of work to organize. I have done flights and pre-post cruise hotel stays separately also. But if we end up getting MORE people to join, I would like to have a contact at RCCL or a travel agent to handle their questions, flight arrangements, etc as needed. I did not anticipate this vacation getting so big. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I used an agent.......I book almost everything thru the internet for several years now.... But with such a large group - I am a bit nervous handling all of this on my own.
There are some sailings that do not have "group space" available. When they have that designation, not even travel agents can book group space.
In those case it's because too much group space has already been booked, and RCI wants to keep remaining inventory open for sales... or because the sailing is selling so well they don't feel they need to offer incentives.
I'd recommend getting a TA right away!! Transfer everyone's booking to them, an see if they can wangle some group space, if it opens up. If lucky, you may be able to find an TA with group space on this sailing already... that they can move your bookings into.
I maintain that you are never going to get the best deal by booking directly with a cruise line. And if something does happen to go wrong along the way, the person who booked you is employed by the people who "wronged" you, so you're not going to get any good representation there.
i totally agree with Kuki, get yourself a travel agent, transfer the bookings to the travel agent, tell all your friends and family that if they have any questions, comments or concerns to call the agency direct and to ask for "Jane", the specific agent who is handeling your cruise. Travel agents love groups, they might even throw some freebies your way (things like a photo voucher, on board credit, a bottle of wine)