Affinity groups on cruises

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#1
willington,ct usa
880 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
On our February Spirit Caribbean cruise, we had 2 affinity groups- car dealers(reward cruise) and divorce lawyers. The lawyer group had a couple of business meetings(?write off the cruise), and they took over Restaurant 2 for a whole evening. The groups mainly socialized amongst themselves and comprised about 1/3 of the passengers all together. I feel the presence of affinity groups (especially larger ones)on a cruise could definitely negatively impact the cruise for the rest of the passengers. Is there a way to find out from SB if there will be an "affinity group" on my cruise- especially before final payment? I did ask my TA to check before my Spirit cruise, because I have read on CC about that practice- but she did not get any information from SB.
Kathy
#3
SC
660 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
I fully understand your concerns. I have been on cruises where affinity groups have negatively impacted our cruise. They take over public spaces, the ship caters to them at the expense of all others and soon you feel like you are a palm tree. The cruise lines are reluctant to let passengers know in advance of affinity bookings for obvious reasons. Thus they generally will not tell agents. However, I beleive you have every right to know if a large affinity group is going to be on your cruise. I would go back to your agent and demand an answer.
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Kiawahdon
#4
Valley of the Sun, Arizona
6,952 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
I agree with the above. Have had it happen on SeaDream. I did not feel like a palm tree, I felt like my purpose was to stay out of the way and pay for the fuel. Really changes the dynamic on board. They should be more forthcoming to us other passengers but we all know why they dont.
#5
CA, USA
13,322 Posts
Joined Apr 2004
I personally feel that other passengers aboard a cruise with groups should band together and not allow themselves to be excluded from any public venues. What are they going to do if the remaining passengers all decide they want to use the Observation Lounge? Get Security to throw you out? Unless they are willing to refund part of the fare for denying spaces that are advertised in their brochures as part of the cruise experience then they should not be allowed to prevent us from using them.
#7
St. Petersburg, Fl USA
4,991 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
Originally posted by Seabourntraveller
NOT SO!
ANYONE can call up Seabourn and not just your TA to ask if any groups are onboard.
This is my understanding as well. We had an affinity group onboard a few years back in the med. Because it was a triple back-to-back, we didn't cancel.. (was a BIG difference in experience that week)

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#8
Perth Western Australia
287 Posts
Joined Apr 2002
Dan, The same thing happened to us on our Med triple back to back and like you the experience during the week we had the group was very noticeable, and not for the better. We usually take longer cruises so are not as affected as some guests who due to work commitments can not take longer cruises. I have noticed that the groups tend to be on the shorter cruises. On the larger sisters they have a conference room and more passengers but on the smaller ships it must really impact on guests cruise experience.

I agree with wripro that passengers who are affected by not being able to access public spaces should complain to the Hotel Manager as a group.

I'm glad to know that Seabourn will tell you if you ask if a large group has booked the cruise you are thinking of taking. If we do find a shorter cruise we are interested in I would certainly ask the question.
#9
Dallas
75 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
This coming summer (August) the "affinity group" was so large for a popular itenerary in the Med that we were "bumped" from the ship entirely. The new Seabourn just presumed we'd book another time, another itinerary -- no big deal.

Their decision to charter the ship was in January and no "sorry about that" letter from Seabourn/HAL was ever sent to us (it's now April). All communication has been through our TA to work on a refund which is still in progress.

If anyone thinks there is not a sea change afoot with this brand they are simply not very observant.
#10
London
3,373 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Originally posted by themed4me
This coming summer (August) the "affinity group" was so large for a popular itenerary in the Med that we were "bumped" from the ship entirely. The new Seabourn just presumed we'd book another time, another itinerary -- no big deal.

Their decision to charter the ship was in January and no "sorry about that" letter from Seabourn/HAL was ever sent to us (it's now April). All communication has been through our TA to work on a refund which is still in progress.

If anyone thinks there is not a sea change afoot with this brand they are simply not very observant.
Yes I agree.
The thin end of the wedge has become a little thicker recently.
I too was booked for the Med cruise that was chartered,ofcourse the group is only onboard for one week which was right in the middle of the three weeks that I had booked.

I do not know if Seabourn would make any more money from a group that is on for a week, over the guests that had and would have booked this trip.There were even some new ports to see.
I have agreed compensation and had already booked a future cruise with Seabourn and have made them apply a discount and onboard credit to it.

I have however not booked a cruise with Seabourn to replace the trip that I was bumped off of.
I have instead booked with Crystal now that they are all inclusive and am very much looking forward to the cuisine and service that I am told is very good.

Listen up Seabourn, your loyal guests are trying to tell you something.
#11
Tucson,Arizona
4,100 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
I am very sorry that you were bumped from Seabourn, however, if you will check this boards past posting you will see that Seabourn has been doing this for years. I don't believe the HAL management takeover has impacted this issue.
#12
London
3,373 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Originally posted by Chairsin
I am very sorry that you were bumped from Seabourn, however, if you will check this boards past posting you will see that Seabourn has been doing this for years. I don't believe the HAL management takeover has impacted this issue.
Is it not unusual for a charter in August at the height of the summer season?
#13
Dallas
75 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Chairsin, I actually know a little about this as I have gone through the process of chartering the entire ship before -- but availability has always a been on of the smaller ships and for a paid committment more than 8 months in advance. Never to my knowledge have they been willing to charter at the height of the season, on the newest large ship, on a premier (unique) itinerary, late in the game well after a lot of long-term brand loyal customers have signed up.

This is indeed new in my opinion and indicative of a little different set of decision drivers.

It's their business, their choice. My business is my choice and there are a lot of options in the world.
#14
london
1,186 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Would someone please tell me of any experiences involving Seabourn bumping their booking in order for Seabourn to accommodate an affinity group?

I am thinking what you would do if you had also booked nonrefundable airfares and/or hotels. Would Seabourn make the bumped passenger good on those expenses?

Yes, it's their business but when I am out of pocket it's mine too!
#16
London
3,373 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Originally posted by wripro
I have a feeling Seabourn in Miami would have been more generous than Seabourn in Seattle.
Yes,you are correct after new Seabourns first offer of compensation.

Old Seabourn was a different proposition.
#17
Dallas
75 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Markham, you are right that non-refundable air and related issues can be significant. Seabourn provided a partial reimbursement of non-refundable air for "bumping" us and they are now reviewing the residual non-refundable expenses. Lots of paperwork and bureaucracy (time). This is where a top notch travel agent can provide real value.
#18
Hume, VA
3 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Originally posted by kathy16
On our February Spirit Caribbean cruise, we had 2 affinity groups- car dealers(reward cruise) and divorce lawyers. The lawyer group had a couple of business meetings(?write off the cruise), and they took over Restaurant 2 for a whole evening. The groups mainly socialized amongst themselves and comprised about 1/3 of the passengers all together. I feel the presence of affinity groups (especially larger ones)on a cruise could definitely negatively impact the cruise for the rest of the passengers. Is there a way to find out from SB if there will be an "affinity group" on my cruise- especially before final payment? I did ask my TA to check before my Spirit cruise, because I have read on CC about that practice- but she did not get any information from SB.
Kathy
We were on the "car dealer/lawyer" cruise with you in February and agree that it was a huge disappointment. The lawyers generally kept to themselves, as noted, but the other group ran the staff ragged and seemed to have little sense of courtesy for fellow travellers (who actually paid good money to travel on Seabourn!). Thanks for raising this issue and soliciting feedback from other readers - I'm going to call Seabourn before our next cruise in December, so we don't repeat this mistake!
#19
Virginia
25 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
Wow, this is new to me, but so also is cruise ship travel. We've only been on one cruise, Seabourn Legend in the Caribbean, and are planning our second cruise aboard the Sojourn for a Baltic cruise in June 2013. Are there more popular "affinity group" routes than others? I must admit, I will be VERY irritated if there is a large group on our upcoming cruise. It's a pricy cruise and we're using lots of airfare miles to get there.
#20
willington,ct usa
880 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
I think the 7 day Caribbean cruises are more likely to be "chartered" by affinity groups. I had heard that cruise we were on was not "full", and that SB gave a really good price to the affinity groups and this resulted in a primarily negative experience for me and some others also on that cruise.
In contrast, on our 17 day Norway and Baltic cruise in July 2012, there were a few "groups", but not enough of them to impact the cruise experience. Most likely because the Baltic and Norway is an expensive itinerary.
Kathy