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jessencaitly

First time booking for group, have some questions

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I have been put in charge of booking for a group for 12/2020, since I am the only one who has ever cruised before. So I have some questions and could use some advice from people with experience booking groups. They would prefer to go to the Bahamas, so that's a consideration in picking a ship/itinerary.

 

Should I use a TA or PVP, right now I don't have either. I've heard you can get better perks using a TA, then again I've heard a PVP is better if issues arise. 

 

We will need at least 4 cabins, with 2 adults in each and three of the cabins will also have a child in them. If I go with Family Harbor, can the childless cabin be in there too? And we may be adding more people and cabins. (I am clueless about Family Harbor, it was recommended by a friend)

 

I was planning on mixing the adults around a bit for the Cheers program, we have 4 drinkers, and 4 non-drinkers, or will that be too much hassle to get that many extra room keys? 

 

And finally, I prefer the Fantasy class ships, as I like the size and ease of getting around. The people who are going with us, while they are hard-working, family people, they are also pretty hardcore bikers. This will be the most exotic vacation any of them will have ever had, and I want to make sure they have a fun time. 

Should I stick to Fantasy class, or go with something else? Most of their dining will probably not be in the MDR after I told them there is a bit of a dress code, and they will appreciate a bit more of the "party" atmosphere, sitting on deck with beers, listening to music, and people watching. I don't see the need for much in the way of a bunch of specialty restaurants, either. Maybe one night as a group.

 

Any advice appreciated, I just want to give them all the best time ever.

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Posted (edited)

All of your questions are perfect examples of why you should be consulting with a reputable TA

 

Also, You need to get yourself out of the middle of this.

 

from someone who did exactly as you are planning, I can tell you that everyone wants to sail on this cruise. UNTIL, it's time to put big money down, then folks will start dropping like flies. Just as if you are planning a big party at your house. If you want 20 people, then invite 40.

Next on the agenda is that someone will start complaining because they talked to a friend who had a friend who went on a cruise and the price you are asking them to pay is way too much. That friend of a friend also said they got a better deal on amenities.

Next on the agenda will be pre-cruise parties which everyone will want you to host.

Them will come excursions and are you leading them and others just can't figure things out and what about this..

 

Find a TA that all can work with. The TA can get you the group discounts, the amenities, can handle the billings and the payments and can answer all questions.

Edited by klfrodo

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You got good advice from Klfrodo.  Keep in mind it's not your responsibility to make sure other people have fun.  

 

Roz

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As far as ship choice, I wonder how far you and they are from the various ports... will everyone drive or are they willing to fly? I’ve planned for friends and family before and I’m certainly not a travel agent. I just love to do it but if you proceed, I’d front load them with as much information as possible about the whole process (money, gratuities, insurance, excursions, parking and hotel cost an so on) before they ever pay a deposit. I did it again last night around the kitchen table with some friends. We sometimes do an internet search like ‘Carnival Dream Drone’ and watch cool YouTube videos of people flying drones over cruise ships. It really helps to see what a ship’s top deck looks like and then we compare it to other ships we are interested in.

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2 hours ago, klfrodo said:

All of your questions are perfect examples of why you should be consulting with a reputable TA

 

Also, You need to get yourself out of the middle of this.

 

from someone who did exactly as you are planning, I can tell you that everyone wants to sail on this cruise. UNTIL, it's time to put big money down, then folks will start dropping like flies. Just as if you are planning a big party at your house. If you want 20 people, then invite 40.

Next on the agenda is that someone will start complaining because they talked to a friend who had a friend who went on a cruise and the price you are asking them to pay is way too much. That friend of a friend also said they got a better deal on amenities.

Next on the agenda will be pre-cruise parties which everyone will want you to host.

Them will come excursions and are you leading them and others just can't figure things out and what about this..

 

Find a TA that all can work with. The TA can get you the group discounts, the amenities, can handle the billings and the payments and can answer all questions.

The only things they are responsible for is their flight cost and their spending money. I have invited them on this cruise under those conditions.

I'm handling the booking, they're handling the showing up.

 

But thank you for the advice to use a TA! After much more reading, it seems to be the way to go.

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2 hours ago, JasperCruiser said:

As far as ship choice, I wonder how far you and they are from the various ports... will everyone drive or are they willing to fly? I’ve planned for friends and family before and I’m certainly not a travel agent. I just love to do it but if you proceed, I’d front load them with as much information as possible about the whole process (money, gratuities, insurance, excursions, parking and hotel cost an so on) before they ever pay a deposit. I did it again last night around the kitchen table with some friends. We sometimes do an internet search like ‘Carnival Dream Drone’ and watch cool YouTube videos of people flying drones over cruise ships. It really helps to see what a ship’s top deck looks like and then we compare it to other ships we are interested in.

 

Thank you, that's a cool idea about checking out the videos.

We will all be coming from Washington state to Florida for departure. (Of course, they all want to fly into Orlando, and go to Daytona Beach for a day or two) 

And when I invited them all, I gave them all the info I could think of on what they would be responsible for, and what they could choose to add extra (such as Cheers or specialty restaurants) as well as making a big group chat so everyone could ask questions and I can keep them updated.

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First, there are no specialty restaurants on Fantasy class.  And if you think they will prefer to eat at the buffet, pick a larger ship with a larger buffet.  If they want to go to Daytona, the reasonable thing to d would be sail from Port Canaveral or Jacksonville.  Cruises from JAX are on a Fantasy class ship (Ecstasy) and from Port Canaveral, Elation (Fantasy class) and Liberty (Conquest class).  Fantasy class do not have Family Harbor cabins, and I do not believe Liberty does, either.  Ecstasy and Liberty do 4 & 5 night cruises to Bahamas; Liberty does 3 & 4.  Of course, there are other ships sailing from Port Canaveral, if you are no wedded to Carnival...  EM

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Port Canaveral is one of our favorites... we drive and sometimes fly to the port from Alabama. If you need to rent a car, and I’m assuming you will, there are so many options available. Pick up your car at the airport in Orlando, have a good time for a few days, then drop it off near the port. We always stay at the Country Inn or one of the others that has a rent-a-car drop off right near the parking lot and then shuttle, taxi, or Uber to the port. You can practically see the ships from the hotel so no fear of being late to the ship or enduring other hassles. Kennedy Space Center is fun if your in to that type thing - I loved their tour of the launch facilities. The world really is your oyster when it comes to picking a ship at that port - I’d definitely price all the other cruise lines.

 

 

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16 hours ago, Essiesmom said:

First, there are no specialty restaurants on Fantasy class.  And if you think they will prefer to eat at the buffet, pick a larger ship with a larger buffet.  If they want to go to Daytona, the reasonable thing to d would be sail from Port Canaveral or Jacksonville.  Cruises from JAX are on a Fantasy class ship (Ecstasy) and from Port Canaveral, Elation (Fantasy class) and Liberty (Conquest class).  Fantasy class do not have Family Harbor cabins, and I do not believe Liberty does, either.  Ecstasy and Liberty do 4 & 5 night cruises to Bahamas; Liberty does 3 & 4.  Of course, there are other ships sailing from Port Canaveral, if you are no wedded to Carnival...  EM

 

Thank you, I think I'm looking at JAX and the Ecstasy right now. And I did not know the Fantasy class did not have the Family Harbor, that's helpful.

And while I'm not wedded to Carnival, I think for this group and it being everyone's first time, the Carnival atmosphere and Fantasy class ship size will be perfect.

They're all already being nervous and worried that they won't be "up to par" with the other people on the cruise. No matter what I've said or the videos I've sent them, they seem to have visions of raised pinkys, and formal wear every night!

 

I will be calling a TA (or 4) today, and seeing what I can come up with.

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Getting extra room keys made isn't a big deal....but I'd be hesitant to start mixing people from different family groups, just because people tend to back out when it's time to pay and then your carefully planned rooms fall through.  If I were you, I'd either coordinate with a TA and let each family pay directly, or give everyone the information to book on the Carnival website/over the phone and then just link the bookings. 

 

 

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I would work with a PVP.  I have booked for a group and worked with a PVP who made my life so much easier.  He was able to book us all in the rooms we wanted, on a great itinerary that we wanted, put kids in their own rooms, AND he was able to book the rooms and contact each individual who was paying so I didn't have to put money down for them.  He linked all our bookings so we were all at the same table in the MDR as well.

 

When we booked, our PVP mixed people during booking to ensure everyone got the best rate.  (My wife and myself qualified for a cheaper rate due to status).  We then just went to the service desk and swapped room keys which was a breeze.

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Posted (edited)

We have found that when cruising with a group,  let it be known ahead of time that even though you are a group, each couple can go their own way.  Just because one couple wants to do a certain excursion doesn't mean that all have to do it.  We always say what we are doing this on a particular island.  If you want to join us, you are more than welcome but you don't have to.  Keeps everybody happy that way.

Edited by RWolver672

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2 hours ago, RWolver672 said:

We have found that when cruising with a group,  let it be known ahead of time that even though you are a group, each couple can go their own way.  Just because one couple wants to do a certain excursion doesn't mean that all have to do it.  We always say what we are doing this on a particular island.  If you want to join us, you are more than welcome but you don't have to.  Keeps everybody happy that way.

I have done an excursion without my wife.  A couple years ago we did a Med cruise with my MIL, my wife's aunts/uncles and some of her cousins.

 

One of the things the aunts/uncles wanted to see was Pisa so of course my MIL wanted to go with her brothers/sisters and their spouses.  I did some research and decided I wanted to Florence (an hour 1/2 walking tour then 3-4 hours of on your own).  My wife wanted to hang out with her MIL.  So I went on the excursion to Florence by myself.  No one was upset.  The entire trip was like that where sometimes we would do things together but other times we would split up in subgroups.  We did have dinner together where we compared notes.

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23 hours ago, jessencaitly said:

They're all already being nervous and worried that they won't be "up to par" with the other people on the cruise. No matter what I've said or the videos I've sent them, they seem to have visions of raised pinkys, and formal wear every night!

While I have not sailed on the Ecstasy, I have sailed on predecessor ships out of here.  They definitely won't have to worry about raised pinkys and formal wear

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I’ve planned several cruises with friend groups. I have a PVP with carnival that we used for years. However, now I use a friend that’s a travel agent. She is usually able to provide more onboard credit and sends gifts to the cabins. I haven’t cruised out of Jacksonville, but Port Canaveral is so easy. There are usually good deals on hotels that have shuttles available to take you to the port.  The conquest class is probably my favorite. I love the Freedom and the Liberty. Cruising is a great way for everyone to do their own excursions on port days and to re group on sea days and during dinner. We always have our reservations linked for dining. I also tell everyone our excursion plans, they’re welcome to join in if they wish. I usually email a list of excursions that are available and let them decide what they want to do with their day. It’s also a good idea to include a budget of some sort. Especially for first timers. Automatic gratuities, tipping guides and porters, room service, drink packages, etc.  A packing list would be helpful too.  Paying $20 for sunscreen isn’t fun! We usually have a dinner where we explore the ship online and talk through excursions, etc. it’s part of the fun! Remember it’s best to arrive the day before and always buy travel insurance! Happy cruising!

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