Cruise for free? Yes, believe it! There are many ways to create a free cruise for yourself on most cruise lines. Cruise lines provide travel incentives for booking group tavel. Once of the incentives is called a “tour conductor”, commonly referred to as a TC! A tour conductor is essentially a credit for the Group Leader or Pied Piper, to cruise for free with a group of friends, relatives, or colleagues that you have brought to the cruise line. Keep in mind though, the group will have to pay for all port charges, government taxes and fees and airfare to the port of departure if needed.
Cruise lines base their rates on double occupancy, that is two persons to a cabin. Often they refer to occupancy as “berths”. One berth is one bed, or one passenger.
The group size needed to gain a free berth (bed) on a cruise varies by cruise line and their promotions. A rule of thumb for mass market lines (Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean etc) is a minimum of 16 passengers occupying 8 cabins or staterooms (third and fourth passengers in a cabin do not count toward the total). The 16th passenger is awarded TC or Tour Conductor status and sails for free. Some lines refer to their TC policy as “1 for 15” which essentially says the same as the 16th in the group is free.
It gets a little more complicated because that 1 for 15 gets you only one berth (bed) in one cabin. Your cabin mate will still have to pay for his/her berth.
By now you are way ahead of me! Yes, get 32 passengers into your group and get a FREE cabin (two berths)! Be careful to be clear on the group policy:
- 16 passnengers in the group allows the 16th person to cruise for free.
- 16 cabins/staterooms means the 16th cabin is cruise for free!
One last point on free cabins or berths – many cruise lines offer a free fare for less than 16 people. For example, ultra-luxury line, The Yachts of Seabourn, offers one free berth for every ten sold. You may also find cruise liness offering even more attractive terms with off season sailings.
Sail with friends and family and cruise for free…
The place to start is to consider how you will form your group. Simply identify a groupp of like minded people who want to cruise together:
- Birthday Celebration
- Family Reunion
- Anniversaries and weddings
- Clubs and Associations
- Church Groups
- Social Groups
- Sports Groups
- Professional Groups
- Past Military and Service members
- Franternity and Sorority Groups
Of course there is no reason why you can’t just go for the fun of it!
One you have identified the “who” is going you want to work with a good cruise travel agent. The cruise agent can walk you through itineraries you may be interested in, guide you to the types of cruises, and inform you of the group policies of the various cruise lines you are interested in.
If you are the group leader you probably will work hard to cruise for free. You will be promoting the group, coordinating with group members, record keeping and facilitating communication between your group members and your cruise agent. Your cruise/travel agent will work directly with the cruise line to make things happen (making the bookings, air arrangements, cabin assignments, dining times and onboard events etc.) but your friends will look to you if anything goes wrong, so be prepared! A small price to pay to cruise for free, don’t you think?
What if I can’t find enough friends or family to get the group benefits?
If you can’t fill a group on your own, look for travel agencies who are members of travel consortiums or national accounts (CruiseShpCenters, Ensemble, Virtuoso, AAA etc). Travel agencies are often given incentives by the cruise line to block significant amounts of space well in advance of the sailing dates. The incentives may be in the form of added amenities, better pricing or both. Consortium and National Accounts of the cruise line will have very good opportunities for you and your group to save significant money.
That’s Great For Me! But What About My Friends?
Yes, as group leader/promoter, you earn the right to cruise for free if you make your group size committment. But not to worry, your friends get benefits too! As a starter, group rates are often lower than individual rates or you can have the free cruise TC sold and the money divided among your group members, saving everyone money.
Most cruise lines also provide perks available only to group passengers. They award group amenity points based upon time and length of sailing, number of people in your group and the more people in your group the more points you get. The points can be traded for more amenities such as
- bottle of champagne in cabin
- private cocktail party
- cabin upgrades
- shipboard credits
- logo wear
As well, there is usually no limit to the number of free beds you can have. It is in direct proportion to the number of folks who join your group. So, based on the above 1 for 8 cabins (16 passengers) yielding 1 free bed, 16 cabins (32 guests) would give you 2 free beds or 1 free cabin and so on. If your group greww to 100 cabins you would end up with 6 free cabins or 12 free beds! You can sell the extra beds and spread the money received across the group members or hand them out for rewards to others who have helped you build your group.
The award from the cruise line is limited to the value of the cruise itself. Governments fees, Port charges and taxes are not included and must be paid by the guest. Policies vary by cruise line so as Group Leader you need to make yourself familiar with the cruise line offers BEFORE you start booking!
You will need to do your homework. The details of group offerings vary widely by cruise line, itinerary, time of year, type of group and sometimes by ship. Find a knowledgeable cruise travel agent that specializes in group travel and he/she will help you find the right itineray, right, ship and negotiate the best possible deal for you. If you are having trouble finding one, use our contact us form and we will try give you some help!
Trade Your Talent or Passion and Cruise For Free!
You can trade your talents for free (or substantially discounted) luxury cruises. Cruise line management is very interested in keeping their passengers happy at all times. This goal is a bit more challenging on days when the ship’s at sea. To address this issue the cruise lines offer all manner of onboard activity. Many of these activities are staffed by outside people who typically cruise free or at discounted fees paid to booking agencies. One key advantage is the time commitment, which is generally minimal for those who are contracted (usually an hour per day on days when the ship’s at sea). Also, most outside contractors get to bring along a traveling companion who also cruises free.
You may consider whether you could trade your talents for free cruises. To assist in your self- assessment here is a list of positions typically staffed by outside people:
- Enrichment Lecturer:Many cruise lines have formal enrichment programs that offer edutainment type programs in a variety of topics. A majority of these programs use destination-driven lectures although many lines will also consider general interest topics.
- Arts and Crafts Instructors: Craft classes are an onboard staple at sea. Projects range from so called “high art” like watercolor classes to simple macramé projects. Typically, the more popular classes are those that are also destination related, i.e. handicraft or folk art of one of the countries on the itinerary.
- Dance Instructors: These classes too are often related to the destinations being visited, i.e., Line dances (Texas); Meringue (Dominican Republic); Salsa (Puerto Rico), Samba (Brazil), Tarantella (Italy) etc.. Obviously you must have happy feet and know your business, but there is much fun to be had.
- Bridge Players: If you enjoy playing bridge and have a “knack” for it, you can spend a couple hours a day in the game room playing in exchange for your cruise. Many times a requirement here is that your traveling companion must be ready, willing and able to sit in on a game should a pair need to be completed in order to play.
- Gentleman Host: Single? Chatty? Happy feet? Impeccable manners? Gentleman will be expected to appropriately entertain unescorted ladies on the cruise. Dancing and polite company are the stock in trade for this onboard position.
- Computer Instructors: Many cruise lines are very interested in contracting with folks who can deliver a series of onboard computer classes.
The list does not end here. Many cruise lines will consider any kind of tasteful and interesting activity. In any event, trading your talents to cruise for free, is worth investigating further!
You coud always WIN a cruise…
Well if all of the above sounds too difficult or time consuming, you could always trying winning a cruise!
Many cruise agencies have contests where they give away a free cruise for two, including airfare, port charges and taxes once or twice every year. In return for your opportunity to enter the contest, they ask for your email address and permission to send you information on up coming cruise specials. So, if you are interested in getting updated cruise offerings right to your email inbox, try CruiseShipCenters and look for the “Enter to Win A Caribbean Cruise” box.
Bon Voyage! What a great feeling to say “I took my cruise for free”!!