If you've ever been part of a social organization, it's very possible that someone has pitched going cruising together. Cruises are quick, cost effective, and are a fun way for members of the organization to get to know each other. Whether you're a social club, sports team, family reunion, or even just a large circle of friends, consider creating a group booking.
Group Booking Defined
A group booking is basically a bunch of rooms (at least 8) that are set aside on a particular sailing, and only certain people can book those rooms. To create a group, the following information is essential:
Cruise line and ship
Number of rooms to reserve
Types of rooms to reserve (and quantity)
Since group bookings are usually made months in advance, when prices are lower, cruise rates for the group don't increase over time as the ship fills up. Thus, groups get a long period of time to book all their reserved space without having to worry about price increases. Pricing can become as issue, though, if the group space is filled quickly, and more rooms have to be added. Rooms added to an existing booking will be subject to the rate at the time of addition.
Rooms Types and Quantity
Each group booking will have a specific amount of rooms set aside for guests to book into. The number of cabins, and the types of cabins are determined at the initial creation of the group. It's not uncommon to see a group booking have a few suites, a good number of ocean view rooms, and a handful of inside staterooms. It all depends on the budgets and preferences of the people in the group. A social group of 18-20 year olds might require all inside staterooms, which are the least expensive. A youth sports team will probably need ocean view rooms because they are big enough to accommodate families. It's important to know what kinds of travelers will be in the group in order to reserve the proper kind and quantity of staterooms.
As a group, all staterooms are cross-referenced for seating in the dining room. Table arrangements will be made to put all guests together at the specified dining time which is set by the group leader. The Dining department will also require a seating list prior to departure.
Groups have the privilege of reserving meeting rooms and lounges for private group activities. Celebrating someone's birthday on board? Have a cocktail party in the piano bar. Or teach a half-day Seminar at Sea in one of the conference rooms. It is recommended, though, that requests be made as early as possible before departure.
The best kept secret of group bookings is the bonus point system. Depending on the type and number of rooms in a group, a certain amount of points will be assigned, and these points can be redeemed for gifts. Each gift will go to every stateroom in the group, and include treats like champagne and chocolates, bottles of wine, bathrobes, fruit platters, gift boxes, and even on-board credit.
Travel agent note:Group bookings are a great way for a group of people to travel together, but it's highly recommended that you book through a travel agent. Group bookings have deposit schedules and work-up details that are tricky and, at times, very complicated. It can also be laborious collecting personal and payment information for each guest in the group. Let your travel professional do all the work – it won't cost your group anything!