Let’s Talk About Groups!

What is considered a group? It could be family members, group of friends, clubs or organizations, people with common interests, etc.

Different facets of the travel industry has different requirements for a group. These are the usual requirements; however, you should always ask when inquiring on group space.

  • cruise line: minimum of 8 staterooms
  • hotel: minimum of 10 room nights per night
  • airlines: minimum of 10 seats traveling on the same itinerary

What are the benefits on booking group space versus FIT (free independent traveler)? You are allowed to hold a block space with a minimum deposit instead of the normal full deposit or payment required from FITs. Here is an example…

  • cruise line: normally requires $500 deposit per stateroom within 72 hours for FITs. If you are booking a group, the deposit is $50 per stateroom due within 30 days of contract.
  • hotel: group bookings are normally handled through the sales department and will be able to help ensure that all the needs of your group are handled properly. Usually a deposit of 1 night room and tax or a percentage of your total expense is due at signing of the contract. Final payment is due about 30 days prior to arrival.
  • airlines: FITs are required for full payment of their tickets up front. For groups of 10 or more traveling on the same itinerary are only required to place a deposit on each seat held in the block. The deposit is usually about $50 per seat. Final payment is normally due around 30 days prior to arrival.

As you can see, it is good on upfront cost for everyone. Most important thing to remember is to read the contract thoroughly and make sure you understand it. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to talk to the entity who drafted the contract/agreement. If you run into any “hiccups” in your group, for example the number falls below the required minimum talk to your sales manager, they may be able to work with you. This usually works with the cruise lines and hotels as long as it prior to the final payment. The airlines usually do not budge, but this does not mean not to try. The worst they can do is say, “No.” At least you have tried. You are usually given credit for the cost of the airline tickets that was cancelled. Just remember that in order to use the airline credit there will be some cost incurred, like “ticket change fee.” Still that’s better than nothing.

My best advice for anyone planning a group cruise is to plan early, do your homework, and share the information to those in your circle. Give everyone plenty enough time to save and plan too. As of today, I am in the beginning phase of planning a Baltic Capitals cruise for our extended family that will take place in June 2018.

Happy group planning everyone!

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Embarkation Day

You have made it on board; now what?

It will take a few days, if not almost the entire cruise to learn your way around the ship. Ship maps are usually located next to every elevator on every floor. Here’s some key nautical terms  you should know:

  • Forward (Bow) – front of the shipScreen Shot 2015-05-12 at 6.21.23 PM
  • Aft (Stern) – back of the ship
  • Port – left side of the ship
  • Starboard – right side of the ship

This is an example of my embarkation day.

  • Check if my stateroom is ready. If it is, great! I will drop off my belongings and see if they have an embarkation day newsletter (mostly they do). This is where you will find out what’s on the schedule for the day.
    • Hopefully I will get a chance to meet my stateroom attendant before I head out to explore. This is when I would normally give him/her a box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts.
  • If my stateroom is not ready, I will stop by the Guest Services Desk to pick up a copy of the embarkation day newsletter.
  • My first stop will be at any open bar, no not for a drink, but to sign up for the soda package. This is only available on embarkation day. The cost is roughly around $11/day + gratuities. It comes with a souvenir travel mug. You will be entitled to unlimited fountain drinks from any bar, restaurant, or dining room. It is worth it if you drink at least 3 cups of soda within a 24hr period. They also offer bottled drinks, beer, wine, and premium drink packages as well.
  • Next stop will be the cafe for a light lunch and a chance for me to peruse the newsletter.
    • I will make note at what time the mustering will take place and schedule my plans according to this.
    • I will also highlight anything that piques my interest. It is usually the spa, specialty dining, and registering my children for the children’s program.
      • For the most part there are no charges for the children’s program and they have lots  for the little one’s to do.
        • There will be a charge for late night childcare,port days, childcare outside of their normal hours, and private childcare in your stateroom.
  • Representatives from many different venues will be available to answer questions and to provide information of what services they offer.
    • Tours are offered of the spa, gym, and children’s facilities.
      • It is not uncommon to have giveaways for those who attend their presentations.
  • By now it would be time for mustering. It may be required to retrieve your life  preserver from your stateroom prior to going to your assigned mustering station.
  • The location of your mustering station is located on the inside of your stateroom door. If in doubt, ask a ship representative. They will point you into the right direction.
    • Keep in mind that this is mandatory by the Coast Guard and roll call is taken by ship personnel.

Once mustering is complete, the ship will be cleared to sail.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 6.06.22 PMBon Voyage! Have a great cruise!