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Need Advice on Planning a Group Cruise

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Ok: We have decided to take over 200 people on the m/s Majesty of the Seas for a 3 Night Bahamas Cruise in Feb, right after her extensive refurbishment. I do need advice on how group bookings work:


Do I need to call and have a group cordinator @ rccl work with me?

How about rates and cabin availability?

Are there certain guidelines to follow?

Additional Info would be soooo helpful!


Thank you all so very much for your input!

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I've set up two group, one with Carnival and the other with RCCL. My comments below are based on these experiences.


We use a local TA who sets up the group with the cruise line and coordinates with their group booking people. In our case group participants booked cabin and travel through our TA. (If you go this route be aware of privacy laws in your jurisdiction, you may have to include a release statement on forms so that your TA can share participant information with you & vice-versa.)


Cabin rates are the same as generally advertised. However, there is a consideration given by the cruise line based on the number of cabins booked. Often this is presented as a free* berth/cabin per X sold. As I understand it this is actually a dollar rebate made to the TA following the cruise. So some groups use it to reduce the overall cabin rates, others use it for group co-coordinator cabins and travel, and still others offer some type of shipboard credit. I'd suggest that you find a good TA. If you don't already have one or if the one you have has no group experience, check out your locals. In most areas there is usually one or two with some group experience.


Talk to the TA about pricing, credits, and rebates. Don't be shy, but don't expect too much. TAs make a reasonable profit, but the margins are slim and there is often a fair bit of work in booking groups. Make sure that you have a thorough understanding of the mechanics of selling to group participants (who is responsible for what), costs, rebates, etc., preferably in writing, before booking the group.


When a group is setup one gets an allocation of cabins which are held for your group for a number of days. Usually 60, but can be shorter/longer depending on numerous factors. This is where things can get interesting. During the hold period prices are also held, so if rates for the cruise go up during the period, the group can still get the lower rate. Once the allotment is sold out rates usually revert to the then current prices. At the end of the hold period any unsold cabins are typically released, but I have been able to extend a hold without providing a deposit. I guess it depends on general demand.


If you need meeting space, a/v equipment, etc. you will have to make these arrangements ahead of time. If you are going to ship materials there is some paperwork to be done, and it has to be done a fair bit ahead of time, so get started on it early.


Beverage service at meetings typically has an additional pp charge. (I think its to cover staffing.) In my case a/v equipment setup was charged by RCCL but not Carnival. Neither charged a rental fee for the a/v equipment (wireless mic, lcd projector, etc.).


* the cabin credit in my experience is 1 cabin per 16 cabins sold, or 1 berth per 8 cabins sold. The cabin/berth is based on the lowest one sold and does not include port fees or taxes. I'd be interested in other peoples experience in this area.

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* the cabin credit in my experience is 1 cabin per 16 cabins sold, or 1 berth per 8 cabins sold. The cabin/berth is based on the lowest one sold and does not include port fees or taxes. I'd be interested in other peoples experience in this area.


That is the usual arrangement. But most often it is based on the AVERAGE cabin sold, not the lowest one. It can vary from line to line and even from sailing to sailing. Once we got an extra good deal of 1 berth for 5 cabins sold. It pays to have a good TA with group experience check around for you.

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I agree with everyone else-- a group of this size would be a nightmare if you attempted to book directly with RCI. They have the worst group dept in the industry!! Find a good TA that specializes in groups.. You will need to make sure they give you all the GAP points and allow you to choose which amenities you want. Make sure they offer some "perk" like a cocktail party etc. It would also be wise to find a TA that would go along on the cruise to make sure your group doesn't have any problems while onboard.


If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

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