Planning a group cruise is not something most of us do often. Before booking a cruise for a group such as a family reunion, wedding, or a corporate meeting, it’s best to get as much knowledge as possible. What you’ll find below are a series of frequently asked questions regarding group cruises. We would also highly recommend reading “Group cruise tips” to gather additional information.
What is a group cruise?
If you are planning a reunion, a wedding or even corporate cruise and need more than eight state rooms at double occupancy, your group will qualify for a discounted rate. The amount of the discount depends on how many rooms you will. For smaller groups, we have seen discounts ranging from 10 to 25%, and for larger hoops discounts can be up to 60% off standard published fares.
Is it better to go through a travel agent instead of the cruise line itself when booking my group cruise?
If you choose to go directly to the cruise lines, you may not be able to secure as big a discount. Our cruise specialists are able to negotiate better group rates for cruises as we deal in more volume than invidual group leaders. In addition to lower pricing, your travel agent can also help in securing deposits from your group members, sending out save the date cards, and even setting up a webpage with information on the group cruise and any excursions.
What are the main benefits of traveling as a group?
There are many benefits traveling as a group. In addition to getting reduced group cruise rates you will also have access to group dining, the freedom to choose any stateroom, the welcome gift upon arrival for everyone in your group, and a cocktail party.
Can I get a free room for helping plan a group cruise?
Absolutely. For every eight rooms that your group books at double occupancy, you will receive one free bed. For every 16 state rooms booked at double occupancy, you’ll receive a full room to yourself. If your organization does not allow you to take the free will can choose to apply equivalent discount to everyone else’s rates. Click here to read how to get a free room when you plan a group cruise.
If we travel as a group, do we have to do all the activities as a group too?
Not at all. In fact we would highly recommend that you plan a minimal amount of activities aboard the ship. Everyone in your group will have differing interests. Some may be interested in the casino while others may be interested in rock climbing. Instead of trying to pigeonhole everyone into one group activity, it’s better to let everyone do what they want to do during the day. We’d recommend that you ask everyone to meet for dinner instead. It gives everyone a chance to catch up and go over what they did that morning and what they plan on doing the following day.
Do I have to put a large deposit down when I’m booking a group cruise?
You do not have to put a large deposit down for the entire group. Once you book a group cruise, the cruise line will give you a certain amount of time to spread the word among your group.
Each individual in your group will be responsible for calling and making their own reservations or going on a website to make the restrictions. In order to make the booking, each individual will have to place a small deposit to hold their spot.
This deposit amount is minimal and serves as a placeholder. Depending on your contract with the cruise line, final payments will be due a certain amount of days before the actual sailing. Payments can be arranged individually with credit cards or you can choose to pay as a group.
If we book as a group, can we get meeting rooms for free?
Meeting rooms on cruise ships are multipurpose. Family reunions use them as a hospitality suite, while corporations use them as a gathering space for training. Whether you’re planning a banquet for training, there’s a good chance that your meeting rooms will be free. While smaller groups may have to pay a minimal fee for meeting space, larger groups tend to get meeting rooms at no cost.
If you will be requiring meeting space, make sure to let the cruise line know at the time of booking. This way you can select the exact meeting space you need, and exact times that you will need.
Can my group members book their cruise online with our discounted rates?
Yes. Once you book the cruise, you will be provided a web site through which your members can make their reservations. Your attendees can select the stateroom of their choice, book excursions, and even select à la carte items for when they are on board.
Can we get discounts on excursions at ports of call?
Group discounts are available for shore excursions as well. You can book shore excursions ahead of the cruise, during the cruise, or when you are disembarking at the port of call. While in theory it seems relatively easy to select a shore excursion that everyone will enjoy, the reality is that it is quite difficult to get a group of people to agree to one activity or excursion. Rather than select one shore excursion for everyone, just let everyone do their own thing. You’ll be happier and so will your attendees.
Do I need to get group travel insurance?
When traveling with a group, insurance is always encouraged. Once you have a good idea of how many people are actually going to be attending the group cruise, you should get a quote. Getting travel insurance is not expensive at all. Cruise lines are very strict about their cancellation policies, even in the case of medical emergencies, or the loss of a job. The minimal amount you pay up front will prevent you from losing the full amount of your cruise vacation if anyone in the group needs to cancel.
Will we need a passport?
Eight to ten weeks before you depart for your group cruise, make sure that everyone has a valid passport. Upon your return from an overseas country such as the Caribbean, or Mexico, you will be required to present one of the following documents:
- US passport
- Enhanced drivers license
- or a US passport card
Is there parking at the pier?
If members of your group are driving to the departure port, they can choose to park right at the pier. Most of these lots charge a minimal amount per day. If your group is scheduled to arrive at a hotel the night before, then make sure to ask about park and cruise rates when you are making your group reservations. Many hotels will offer a flat parking cruise rate for the entire duration of your cruise. In most cases the flat rate is cheaper than what you will be charged at the pier. The hotel will generally provide a complimentary shuttle to and from the departure port. Make sure to make arrangements well ahead of time.