Group Travel 101 — Cruising for groups

 
 

Bob Hoelscher
Published December 04, 2011

Cruising is one of the world’s most popular vacation options, and it taking a cruise can make for a memorable group trip. The logistics of organizing a group cruise can be tricky, though, so it’s important to make use of professional help.

Why cruise together?
Cruising has become one of the most popular modes of group travel for several important reasons.  First, since a ship takes its passengers to different ports of call, guests can unpack once, relax, and still see a variety of countries, major cities, picturesque towns and resort communities, rather than having to pack and unpack repeatedly on a motorcoach or rail tour.

Second, a very attractive cruise package price generally includes not only all transportation and accommodations, but also all meals, entertainment and use of a ship’s extensive recreational facilities.  Next, cruises are available worldwide to an incredible variety of destination areas…virtually everywhere interesting that is accessible by sea or major inland waterway.

Finally, ships today offer an amazing variety of opportunities for relaxation, recreation, sightseeing or pursuing individual interests, both onboard and at the places they visit.  Thus fans of history, golf, scuba diving, casino gaming, movies, Broadway shows, surfing, ice skating, shopping, fine dining, fishing, dancing, biking, art and culture, climbing, and many more diversions can all be accommodated aboard one vessel.

Furthermore, activities geared to specific age groups, including extensive programs for children and teenagers, mean that everyone in one group can return home well pleased with their cruise vacation, regardless of whether they are 3, 93, or any age in between.  We have already explored the social aspects of group travel (LINK TO: http://grouptravelleader.com/Article.aspx?id=710), and cruise ships have proven to be the ideal type of vehicle to satisfy, enhance and maximize the social vacation experience.

What cruise lines will do for you
Among the many educational and promotional items offered by cruise lines to group travel planners are complimentary fares based on sales levels achieved, significant group discounts and shipboard credits, complimentary DVDs and videos, photo libraries, flier “shells” for creating inexpensive, full-color brochures, decorations (balloons, streamers, posters, etc.) and attendance prizes (travel bags, travel alarm clocks, logo hats and t-shirts, additional discount certificates, etc.) for group cruise presentations and shows.

Many lines also offer “familiarization” cruises and “seminar at sea” programs to group leaders or coordinators that exhibit significant sales potential, frequently in conjunction with an individual professional cruise marketing agency.

Tips for making the most of a group cruise
Unless a group leader is going to organize a very significant number of group cruises on an ongoing basis, or make arrangements for a very large group or full-ship charter, he or she should be working with an experienced professional tour operator or travel agency that specializes in arranging and selling group cruises.  In all honesty, cruise lines are not organized or prepared to satisfy the numerous needs and requests that groups regularly require, so they have virtually made it a necessity for group organizers to deal with a professional cruise seller that is willing and able to provide those services.

Furthermore, these high volume cruise marketers already have the contacts and specialized knowledge to get “first crack” access to booking the most attractive group fares and special promotions that an individual group leader would be highly unlikely to uncover.  Finally, a professional “partner” will be able to assist the organizer to earn the mot attractive amenity bonuses for members of the group, such as complimentary cocktail parties, shipboard credits, in-room gifts, shore excursions and more.