Cruise Guide: Cruising with a group brings many benefits

Cruising with a group of family, friends or coworkers can bring many benefits such as discounts on special excursions. Photo by Matt Roseboom
Cruising with a group of family, friends or coworkers can bring many benefits such as discounts on special excursions. Photo by Matt Roseboom

By Matt Roseboom

cruiseguideheadersmallWhether it’s a family reunion, a wedding at sea, a business meeting or a gathering of fans, cruising with a group can bring a great many benefits.

Besides ease of planning and the fun and everlasting memories you’ll create, group cruises can bring financial benefits as well. Most cruise lines offer incentives for groups. In addition to benefits for the whole group, those arranging the trip may receive a free cabin or generous cruise credits.

Here’s a sampling of how some cruise lines cater to groups. Be sure to ask your favorite cruise line or travel agent for a full list of group cruising benefits.

Azamara
Groups are treated to complimentary butler service for each stateroom as well as such amenities as fresh cut flowers, afternoon canapés, fresh fruit and more.

Carnival
Carnival defines groups as a block of eight cabins with 16 or more guests. The line offers a free cruise for one person for every 15 sold, along with such value-added features as “group amenities” points, which can be redeemed for champagne and chocolates, stateroom upgrades, private cocktail receptions, shipboard credits and more. Carnival also offers a dedicated groups coordinator on each ship to facilitate activities.

Celebrity
Conference facilities are complimentary and such programs as Corporate Amenities Selection as well as onboard group coordinators and Assigned Group Partner Advocates ensure one-stop planning. In addition to free staterooms through the company’s Tour Conductor Credits program, Celebrity offers a variety of packages that can include group beverages and prepaid gratuities.

Costa
Groups may earn a variety of “Amore Points” applicable to cocktail parties, onboard credits and more. Costa also offers a group concierge for all groups.

Crystal
Crystal offers groups a variety of incentives, including special savings rates, onboard credits, prepaid dining and gratuities and other perks.

Holland America
Their Group Advantage Program points permit travel planners to customize their groups by adding such amenities as wine tastings, cooking classes, cocktail receptions, shipboard credits and special dinners. Three new group packages include Winemakers, Girls and Guys Night Out and group programs include Wedding, Family Reunion and Culinary Arts Center programs.

MSC
Shipboard staff coordinate team-building shore excursions and onboard activities including cocktail parties and themed entertainment. Groups of 16 or more travelers are eligible for a variety of amenities from complimentary stateroom gifts and shipboard credits to cocktails.

Norwegian
Norwegian’s Groups 2.0 program allows travel agents to hold up to 16 staterooms with no deposit required until four months prior to sailing, and individual bookings can be transferred into a group up until the day prior to sailing.

Princess
Groups of 10 people or more can qualify for Princess Cruises group rates and are eligible for attractive packages with a variety of special extras.

Regent Seven Seas
Their Group Advantage Program offers a menu of group amenities, each assigned a specific point value. The higher the point value of the cruise, the more group amenities can be applied. The group amenities include such enticements as pre-cruise hotel stays, shipboard credits, cocktail parties, waiver of air add-ons, reduced tour escort requirements and more.

Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean offers complimentary meeting space and A/V equipment, onboard group coordinators and a dedicated corporate meetings sales team.

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