How to Cruise For Free You can cruise for free. It’s the cruise line’s reward to you for helping them solve a huge, recurring financial problem: sailing at full capacity. The cruise segment is unique in the hospitality industry. When their floating hotel departs on the vast majority of itineraries with less than a full house, they have an opportunity loss for the duration of the cruise. The ship still has to steam from port to port. The crew still has to get paid. When there are fewer passengers on board it results in smaller gratuities for the cabin stewards, bar tenders and waiters. This money is a major component of their compensation. Fewer passengers also translates to less revenue for the other profit centers such as the bar, casino, excursions, photos, spas, gift shop, specialty restaurants etc. To compound this problem the cruise lines are adding more ships to their fleets. For the mass market cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, some ships are built to accommodate 5,000 or more passengers. It’s a constant struggle to fill each sailing. There’s Help On The Way…You Did you know that 80% of the population of the United States has not been on a cruise? This is a vast, untapped market that would be impossible to reach with advertising alone. The cruise lines have a program to get these people on board. It's called groups! And once they get you on board they know you'll be coming back as cruise vacations have a 95% satisfaction rate--among the highest in the travel industry.
Cruise Pricing The major cruise lines have groups programs designed to help fill their ships. To understand how they work, a short explanation of cruise pricing is in order first. There are three components to the price of your cruise. The first is the cruise fare. This is the only portion of your ticket price that the cruise line can fully control. When the cruise line runs a sale, this is portion of the total cruise fare that can be reduced. It is also “loaded” with a commission for the travel agent or their sales rep and group incentives.
The other two components are: port charges (also known as noncommissionable cruise fare) and taxes/fees. They are dependent on the cruise itinerary. Most of the time you’ll see the cruise fare and port charges bundled together as the published price of the cruise vacation. Taxes/fees are shown separately. Whatever you call them, some person or entity has to pay them.
Group Incentive Programs
Groups programs have been around for a long time and the cruise lines have found out that they are a cost-effective way to help fill the ship. Because of the nature of word-of-mouth marketing, the cruise lines have discovered that groups are an excellent way to reach that segment of the market that has not cruised before or has not cruised with them. And they know that there is a high probability that they can develop repeat business with new cruisers.
One of the group incentives cruise lines offer the travel agent for booking a certain number of cabins is a free berth. It’s called a Tour Conductor credit. Free berth means free cruise fare-not a free cruise. Remember those port charges and taxes/fees? They don’t come with the free berth. The value of that free berth depends on the type of cabins everyone else in the group is booking. If most of the cabins booked are Ocean View you’re not going to get a free berth in a Balcony or Suite. Alternatively, the Tour Conductor credit has a cash value. Some travel agents pass on this incentive to the group organizers to compensate them for their efforts. Others don’t even tell their group organizers about it!
Amenity programs are the second type of incentive offered by most cruise lines for group bookings. They can be: complimentaries/gifts to the passengers such, cocktail party, group photo, champagne, wine, etc.; on board credits for each cabin; bonus commission for the travel agent; marketing funds or cabin upgrade, for the group organizer. When combined properly, these amenities will enable the group organizer and others to offset the port charges and taxes/fees and to actually cruise free. And with the right travel partner you can also get additional compensation for your leadership efforts and for bringing your business to them. To find out the details on how you can make money and cruise for free just grab this free ebook entitled: Group Cruising Secrets–How To Get Paid To Cruise For Free.
Jim Rannazzisi Master Cruise Counsellor Owner/Manager Group Cruises Unlimited