Regardless of whether it is a church group, family reunion, group of friends, or other association, group vacations are becoming increasingly popular, especially when it comes to cruises. Group cruises are a great way to connect with your fellow travelers and share meaningful experiences. But these cruises can get expensive. Luckily, many cruise lines offer discounts to groups that can save you and your travel companions serious money. If you are considering a cruise as a group, there are a few things that you should know.
Book Discount Group Cruises in Advance
The best advice you can get when it comes to getting discount cruises for your group is to plan in advance. The worst thing you and your group can do is waiting until the last minute to book everything. Many family reunion cruises are organized and booked a year in advance. Another benefit to booking early is that you are given first choice of cabin locations. This allows you to book the nicer cabins, the least expensive cabins, or simply opt to keep everyone in your group close together. Reserving rooms for special group events or banquets is also easier when you book your group in advance.
Often, the larger the group, the bigger your discount will be. The best discounts start once you exceed 15 passengers (excluding children). Large cruise lines like having cabins booked, so they offer large discounts for booking in advance, especially for extras like casino credit and spa services.
How to Find Discount Cruises for Group Vacationers
When searching for a discount group cruise, it’s important to shop around. You will find great offers online, but don’t be limited in where you search for discounted prices. Today, as more people opt for stay-cations over vacations, you are more likely to see discounted group tickets advertized online, especially for groups who started the process and then failed to get the participation required.
If you are looking well in advance, then you can also sign up with major cruise lines to receive emails on discount cruises. While the Internet will be your best bet for finding discount cruises for your group, don’t forget to check your local papers and ask around. Often times, neighbors, church members, co-workers or friends will have great tips on good discount cruises.
Another way to get a discount cruise for your group is to go on a repositioning cruise — a well kept secret among cruise lines and frequent cruise goers. Typically in the spring and fall, cruise ships must travel from one part of the world to another. This is called a repositioning cruise. These cruises can have discounts of up to for 40 percent, and even higher in some instances. However, this is not always the best option, since these cruises last much longer than most. Repositioning cruises are usually not suited for groups with a limited amount of vacation time.
Take advantage of your current affiliations. Many people belong to discount programs such as AARP and AAA. These organizations often have agreements with many of the major cruise lines, so you may be able to get bigger discounts for your group. Also, consider looking at credit card rewards, which may help you get discount cruises for your group.
Keep in mind that it never hurts to pick up the phone and ask. Contact a few cruise lines to see if they offer discounts for senior citizens, military members, teachers, government employees or any other group. And if you live close to a cruise line, contact the line to see if they give discounts to residents. To boost sales during the off season, cruise lines sometimes offer discounts to residents for less popular cruise destinations.
Your group could also consider sharing rooms. If your group can stay three or four to a room, you can get better deals. However, these are often cramped quarters, so it is usually on recommended for younger groups.
If you have done group cruises before, then consider going back to the cruise line that you have already used. Cruise lines often offer loyalty discounts for groups.
Before you book your group cruise, it is important to do your research. It is critical that you get all of the pertinent information that your group needs for their cruise. Be sure that you understand what is included, what the cruise lines payment programs and policies are, the items that you can and cannot bring along, which activities are available and what your group can expect.
With these tips and resources, you can find affordable cruises for your group vacation, regardless of your destination. The best cruises for group vacationers are those that are well planned.
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