Monday, 15 June 2015

Top 10 tips for booking a group cruise

Top 10 tips for booking a group cruise

Whether it’s a birthday celebration, a family reunion, a final fling, a wedding party or a Christmas and New Year gathering, getting friends and family together for a holiday is busy, lively and lots of fun! A cruise is a great way to travel with an assemblage of family and friends but without the obligation to spend every waking moment together. Cruises offer the best of all worlds for groups because they appeal to travellers of all ages, offer various types of activities, and allow people with different budgets to still holiday together. Your group is contained in one place, everyone can set their own onboard agenda, and there's no need for military planning just to choose a restaurant for dinner.  Top tips from cruise specialist e-travel are as follows:

  1. Be aware of your budget and make sure you have a rough idea of how much people are prepared to pay for the cruise; this will make it a lot easier when you start searching for cruises and will heavily influence the kind of ship and destination you choose.

  1. Communicate by e-mail because if you just rely on phone calls and informal chats, it's inevitable that some piece of info about the cruise arrangements will get misinterpreted.  It is best to send out trip details and discuss plans via e-mail. Some groups, especially those that are very large, like extended family reunions, set up a special web site with links to the cruise ship, shore excursion sites, etc.

3.      Nominate an organiser. It’s best to have one designated spokesperson for the party as it avoids unnecessary confusion.        

4.      If possible, book early to avoid disappointment. The right ship with the right location and itinerary is more likely to be available on your chosen dates the earlier you book. If you are planning a trip on a popular route (like the Mediterranean in the summer), you won't find many last-minute discounts. The early-bird deals, six to nine months out, generally tend to have the lowest rates.

  1. Avail of a group discount. Some cruise lines have a group policy where one in sixteen cruise for free, therefore leading to big savings on large groups.  E-travel staff can advise on the best offers available from all the top cruise lines including Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, Princess, P&O Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, MSC Cruises, Silversea Cruiseline, NCL, Carnical, Holland America and Hurtigruten.

6.      Do your research on the ship and shore excursions before you go so that you have a list of things to see and do, to refer to during your cruise.

7.      Fly to the homeport city a day early. It's best to arrive the day before embarkation, not the day of especially in the winter when weather delays could hold up your flight.  The trip would start on a sour note if a few from your group missed the boat, literally.  


8.       Tape a balloon to your cabin door.  Your stateroom will stand out in the long hallways so after one too many cocktails it is easy to find your way home! 

9.      Plan to periodically regroup. Even if your group is committed to splitting up during the cruise, it's a good idea to regroup at least once a day. Groups often use dinner as the regrouping time, sitting together at a big table in the dining room. Others even get together for happy hour in one of the cabins or a lounge first.  There might be one special event that everyone could attend as one group, a particular show onboard or a group-friendly shore excursion.

10.  A cruise agent and can take a lot of the headaches away and also get better prices.
E-travel have established relationships with cruise lines and access to discounts and perks that individuals don't.  Plus, they can make recommendations on appropriate cruises for your group based on their experience, as well as travel destinations and shore excursions, leaving you with less work to do. E-travel can also send individual invoices to the group and remind them of key deadlines so the group leader doesn't have to. 

Established in 1997, e-travel is now one of Ireland’s leading independent travel agents, specialising in cruising as well as flights, long-haul and online bookings and are the only 100% Irish owned and managed online agency in Ireland.  Cruising is still one of the best value holiday options on the market today considering the all-inclusive pricing structure and e-travel have excellent deals with top cruise lines.  Imagine the spectacular glaciers and silent fjords of Alaska, paradise on the Caribbean coasts, the cultural splendour of European cities on a Mediterranean Cruise or broaden your horizons even further to destinations such as Dubai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand with exiting itineraries departing from the Middle East and Far East. e-travel’s award winning team offer expertise and advice, early booking discounts, onboard credit, champagne in your cabin and lots more!  The e-travel Cruise department can be contacted on 01 4081999 or www.e-travel.ie.


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