One might think there are few advantages to booking into a group cruise departure. After all, you get on the ship, are taken to your stateroom and then you’re free to do as you please, on your own, for the duration of the cruise. At the end, you disembark and head to the airport for your flight home. Obviously, there are many steps missing from this assumption and that’s where the advantages of booking into a group situation becomes a very prudent idea.
Group departures mean special group pricing, savings that are passed on to the traveller. But that is only the beginning. In addition to group pricing, special amenities are also negotiated with the cruise line; things such as shipboard credits, a complimentary dinner in the ship’s fine dining restaurant, a complimentary shore excursion, a bottle of wine in your stateroom, to name a few.
Private groups generally enjoy a complimentary, private cocktail party, a great opportunity to get to know your fellow group members and enjoy complimentary beverages and snacks. When available, a ships’ officer or two may join the party.
What many cruisers find is the greatest advantage to group cruising is the inclusion of shipboard gratuities, paid prior to departure, removing the uncertainty of what to give to those who have served you well onboard. These are given to the crew at the end of the voyage.
While many of the ships today have multiple dining venues offering the opportunity to choose where you will eat, there will always be special group seating in the main dining room for those who choose to enjoy the people within the group, so always some familiar faces with whom to dine, if that is what you wish.
On river cruises, shore excursions are included in each port; however, on ocean cruises, generally these are not included so as to allow each cruiser the opportunity to choose a specific excursion in each port. Each has it advantages, but the advantage of travelling within a group is that on the river cruises, excursions can be private, for our group members only.
One of the main benefits of group cruising is having a tour leader travel with you from the airport at the start of your vacation right to the very end when you arrive back home. All of the hassles and stress of getting to your destination, disappear when you have a leader to look after all of the details. Even on board, where most things are looked after, it is reassuring to know that there is someone you can go to, to answer your questions, offer advice, plan special social gatherings and to take care of any issues that arise. A friendly face from home can be the difference between a good cruise and a great one. And your leader will arrange a daily meeting place and time onboard where group members may go to share their stories of the day, discuss tomorrow’s plans, and simply enjoy the ambiance of the group.