What is the definition of a "Group" cruise?
The general standard for a group cruise is 8 cabins sailing on a single departure. There are some exceptions to this and your Group Express Account Executive can provide more information.
Will I get the same or better rates from you vs. going direct to a cruise line?
Our rates are always as good, if not better than, going directly to the cruise line. And more importantly we don't limit your choice to just one line. Our goal is to put you on the cruise line and ship that is right for your group.
How many people does it take to qualify for Group cruise prices and amenities?
Typically, it takes a total of 16 passengers in 8 cabins to qualify for ALL amenities. There are some cases where group amenities such as on board credits will apply to the group. This is why choosing the right cruise line for the group is so critical.
What are the main benefits of travelling as a group?
Aside from the main benefit or enjoying the cruise with friends and/or family a group cruise most often is priced lower (for the same cabin categories) as a regular rates. In addition to the rate reduction most cruise lines offer certain amenities to the group such as on board spending credit, welcome parties, etc. Your Group Account Executive can work with you to maximize the value of these amenities.
What is a "Tour Conductor" program and how does it work?
The cruise line will generally provide a complimentary berth (not cabin) for each 16 full fare passengers travelling together. The value of this berth is returned to the group leader after the group has sailed (in order to account for last minute cancellations). The amount of this Tour Conductor refund is based on the average cost of all staterooms booked for the group.
Does the entire group have to dine together at every meal?
No, the group may elect to dine together all the time or just at some meals (usually dinner). If the group elects to dine together and they are travelling on a ship that offers early or late dining, then all group members must elect the same time. Or the group dinners can be held in the optional restaurants (at extra cost). The key here is that there are many dining options which your Group Account Executive will review when setting up the group.
How are payments processed?
Once your group space is blocked, it is a fairly simple process. Each participant will make a deposit and a final payment. All payments are processed via a credit card and accessed on the special web page that we will create exclusively for each group. The goal is to create a group program that does not burden the group leader with any of accounting or administration processes.
Can the group get a discount on shore excursions?
Yes, through our special arrangement with Shore Excursions Group there are two options. We can arrange one or more group excursions during the cruise or the group members can go online to our website and book individual excursions with savings up to 25% from prices for the same tour purchased on the ship.
What about holding special parties or meetings on board?
Absolutely! We can arrange most group events in advance. Meeting rooms are generally free of charge. There are some costs associated with cocktail parties and coffee breaks and these vary on a cruise line by cruise line basis. Most of the medium to larger cruise lines have at least one Group Coordinator on board who will assist you once you board.
Do all group members have to be from the same city?
No, group travelers can come from throughout the U.S. and even internationally and meet on board the ship.
Who handles the paperwork and the booking details?
The Group Express team at iCruise handles all the paperwork and booking details. You round up the group members and we do the rest. We have designed a program that eliminates a lot of the work that normally would have to be done by the group leader. Our philosophy is that it your vacation, too!
Do you provide tools like web sites, flyers and email templates to promote the trip?
We have a very complete set of tools that will make your group departure flow smoothly. The tools include:
Will our group departure have its own website and can members book online?
Yes, each potential group traveller will have access to a web page customized with your details. From this page, they can make deposits and final payments which will be invoiced to each individual member. You (the tour leader) do not have to hold money or account for payments.
If some members of the group need to fly to the embarkation port, will you arrange this?
Our experience has shown that most group members prefer to make their own travel arrangements using an online service or utilizing reward miles. There is cruise line arranged air available and this can be added as an option. Rates change frequently and since cruise line prices are published in advance, experience has shown that online rates are generally lower than cruise line published rates. Even if group members arrange their own flights, they can purchase transfers from the cruise line in most cases.
Is travel insurance available to group members?
It is available and strongly recommended. We automatically add third party trip insurance to all group bookings. Group members who wish to arrange their own can remove this from the invoice but travelling on any cruise without insurance is strongly discouraged.
What happens if our group falls below the number required to get discounts and amenities?
Each cruise line has different policies regarding this and your Group Account Executive can advise the program offered by your specific line. Generally, the cruise line will honor the group rate but some of the amenities offered such as cocktail parties or onboard credits may be reduced or eliminated depending on the final group count.
Do all group members have to choose the same stateroom type?
No, a variety of stateroom types ranging from interior to suites can be held for your group (subject to availability).
Will we ever see an advertised price for the same cruise that is lower than our group rate?
Yes. From time to time, a cruise line may advertise a limited amount of staterooms on the same sailing as your group at rate that is lower than your 'group rate'. The rates are generally limited to a few cabins and carry no amenities or other bonuses that apply to your group.
What is your experience and credentials?
iCruise Group Express is a division of WMPH Vacations the parent company of CruiseCheap.com, Alaska Cruises.com, EuropeCruises.com, HawaiiCruiseOutlet.com and iCruise.com WMPH has been in operation for 6 years and our principals and staff have an average of more than 20 years experience in the cruise industry. We are a large, high volume cruise retail company with an emphasis on personal service. Our company is recognized by the major cruise lines as top account. We are a member in good standing in all major trade associations as well as the BBB. Complete references are available upon request.