Sounds to me like we have a lot of cruise savvy folks here and I would like to pick your brains. I came back home from our first cruise and was telling all of my friends about it, when they suggested I organize a group cruise for all of us to take next year. I am not opposed to this at all and actually think it would be so much fun. I am just wondering what benefits there are to booking a cruise as a group instead of each of calling as individuals and booking it, and am I going to want to pull my hair out be the time this is done? How much work is it to organize a group cruise? what am I responsible for aside from obtaining pricing finding a central point of contact to book the cruise with etc... Please educate me....
Organizing as a group as opposed to everyone booking individually has benefits. Usually, most cruise lines will give you a free berth (1 bed, not 1 cabin) for every 8 cabins booked (will vary from line to line, but this is pretty much the average). Some cruise lines will offer additional perks as well. A good travel agent is indispensable for this. My family took our first cruise last summer (when all was said and done, we were only 6 cabins........although at the beginning of planning we were at 9) and the travel agent was very helpful with everything that needed to be done.
As far as how much work is required on your part, that really depends on you. I personally did EVERYTHING for my family (because I'm the planner and they know I'll take care of everything). My agent said she could also have set it up that everyone call her individually, and just reference the group.........but you still get all the benefits.
Good luck with your planning, there's nothing like sailing with a big group of family/friends!!
After I booked my cruise, we told some friends, and, quickly we had about 15 people wanting to go. I told my travel agent and she said we could get a group rate, and if we booked 8 cabins, we would get one berth free (which we would just pass on any savings to everyone equally). So, I printed up an itinerary, attached a recent review of the ship, listed a couple of cruise review/message board web sites, and referred them to my travel agent. As far as responsibility, I gave them the information and it's up to everyone to make their own arrangements with the TA. And, this is what the TA prefers......for one person to make all the arrangements could cause confusion (too many details to keep straight - birthdates, credit card numbers, special requests, etc.). And, this way, any questions that come up during the booking process , or after, can be discussed with the TA by the person needing the information.
While a number of people do it and more than half the time it does work out for them it could be a nightmare for the person in charge and sometimes for the entire group. This is why here are Cruisemates we have one guy, (Kuki), that is in charge of getting all the groups organized and prices etc worked out. He can tell you that it is not an easy job and that he learns something new everytime and he has done over a dozen now. So far we have had very good luck in getting them done but believe me, there is a lot of research and time put into this. Cruisemates currently has three Group cruises going and we have already contracted for the best prices and vary the types, location, and cruiseline to try and accomodate everyones tastes and if you wish to avoid the hassel you might think about joining one of them. CM is pretty powerful because of who we are and what we represent so TA's are anxious to work with us and usually do a much better deal that anyone else gets. Something to think about. If you do it on your own, make sure you get everything in writing and know what your are doing and that the TA is capable of putting it together. Good luck.