March 11, 2021

That Time I Cruised With A Group...

Booking multiple cabins with your friends or family is not automatically "booking as a group" on a cruise. There are additional steps, but then you get some extra stuff if you have enough cabins booked. 

The extra stuff and requirements to get it are different for every cruise line, so that's why I wanted to make this post!...

I'm going to generalize a lot, with some specifics that I am very familiar with, but all cruise lines do groups so whether you're celebrating something or just going on an adventure, if you've got a lot of people going with you, you should look into it, or ask me about it!

Cabins Needed

Most cruise lines require at least 8 cabins to be booked into a group to qualify for the freebies and benefits. This is also true for Carnival with the exception of if you book through a travel agent - then you only need 5! 

Free Stuff and Benefits

Each cruise line sets these up differently, but they can include free bottles of wine, onboard credit, souvenirs, parties, photo packages, and so much more. One of the most appealing benefits is a "free berth" which is a cash rebate for "one person." I put that in quotes because the amount is based on the average price of all guests' cruise fares. It can be applied to one cabin or distributed as you wish. This is usually one free "person" per 8 people. 

Onboard Experience

Aside from getting some free stuff or maybe having a party to go to, your cruise experience will be exactly the same. You aren't forced to do every activity and spend every meal with those booked in your group (you of course could all stick together if that's what you want, but it's not a fixed schedule). It doesn't turn your cruise into a middle school field trip! 

It's worth mentioning that if you choose "assigned time" dining then you will want to specify whom in your group should be sat with whom else in your group. There is a max size of about 10 guests per table, and the majority are fewer. 

But, how?

Unfortunately, a group booking is something that you cannot book for yourself online. You have to call the cruise line or use a travel agent. Some travel agents (wink wink) will be happy to chat with you online and have you send them your info online, but that's as close as you can get to doing it yourself (unless you are a travel agent, but then why are you reading this...? jk, I'm sure you have your reasons). This also means that no one can go to the cruise line's website to make payments, they have to either be called into the cruise line, into the travel agent, or again, some agents will let you send the info digitally so you don't have to call. 

The steps are:
Selecting a sailing
Selecting amenities
Picking your cabin
Getting your friends and/or family to book too
Making payments

Booking excursions as a group
Booking onboard events as a group (there is a minimum of around 20 attendees for this)

So, if you are cruising with a medium to large group, I do recommend booking as a group, even though it takes a little bit more effort. If you're not sure you'd make the minimum cabin threshold for your group, you should still do it in case you do, because the worst case scenario is that you don't get extra stuff. Your cabin will still be safe, it just will cease to be part of a group at a certain point. 

If you have questions, let me know or post in the comments, I'm happy to help! 

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