Royal Caribbean has loosened it's group policy on "some" itineraries so agents can keep their inventory for 150 days or 210 days before sailing date (whichever comes first!) if at least 8 staterooms have been sold within the 1st 150 days.
Now here's the backside. It only applies to exotic itineraries: South America, Australia/New Zealand, Hawaii, Asia and Transatlantic. These sailings are the ones that often take the longest to fill. It has not been extended to Caribbean or Alaska itineraries. Group space is still pulled in a short period on these cruises and sold at the cruise line rates.
It may be a sign that "the peasants" (travel agents) may be revolting against Royal Caribbean's hardliner policies of pulling back group space in a short period of time.
I know that it's been hard for groups to book through Royal Caribbean since they implemented their new policy. Travel agents we worked with for Cruisemates cruises were always worried that their group space would be pulled without warning. At least now there is an idea of how much time they will have to sell the space on, at least, some itineraries.
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Mike: That was good news, but I do wish RCCL would ease the policy on all sailings. I do understand why they do it though. When the cruiseline allowed TA's to hold group space for a very long period of time, they sometimes would end up with an over abundance of cabins close to the sailing date.
I think they can come up with a happy medium though.
Mary Lou Scanlon
NCL Pride of America April 24, 2010
NCL Epic February 12, 2011
RCCL Allure of the Seas - September 18, 2011
Celebrity Eclipse - February 11, 2012:
RCCL Navigator OTS - February 9, 2013