When someone first hears of getting paid to cruise for free they are, naturally, quite skeptical. They immediately think it must be some kind of scam. After all, if it sounds too good to be true…it probably is!
So just how can one really cruise free—let alone get paid for it? Actually, the cruise lines have had the programs in place for years to allow you to cruise for free, but we are going to reveal here how you can get paid to do it.
In short, your ticket to cruising for free is to use your influence and leadership to create a group cruise that sails with multiple cabins. And when you do business with Group Cruises Unlimited we’ll pay you to do it.
Before discussing how you can cruise at no cost, let’s look at this from the cruise line’s perspective. Each cruise line has established a “Groups” program. Their goal with groups is to help sell out their cruises–not to help you cruise for free or to get your group a good deal. Because of supply and demand factors cruise prices, promotions, and availability change constantly.
So if the sailing you covet is selling well, the cruise line may not even allow your group to be formed, or may wait list it. And it may reduce the value of the incentives it is offering based on how well the cruise is selling. What looks like a good sailing for your group one month could change drastically the next–before you establish your group and lock things in.
When someone from the cruise industry refers to a group they usually mean 16 full-fare passengers booked in 8 cabins. On some river cruise lines, however, a group starts at five cabins, not the typical eight.
Group status usually entitles you to special allowances, discounts and privileges/amenities. Every cruise line has their own unique policy and procedures on group cruises and what benefits they provide. These policies vary widely from one cruise line to another and are constantly changing. When you work with a cruise agency like Group Cruises Unlimited that specializes in group events at sea, they handle sorting through the cruise line’s rules and regulations and the mundane details of working with the cruise line’s Groups Department.
Most cruise lines offer two different types of incentives to generate group business: the “Tour Conductor” allowance and group amenities. As one would expect they vary greatly among cruise lines.
Tour Conductor Allowance
Most group cruises include one free cruise berth called a Tour Conductor (TC) allowance/credit for every eight full-fare cabins sold. This definition may vary by cruise line. Usually, the higher priced cruises have a lower TC threshold.
It’s important to note here that the cabin has to actually “sail” with full-fare people in it to count towards the Tour Conductor credit. For example, someone could cancel at the last minute with a full-fare penalty and the group will not receive the TC credit for the empty cabin.
When you earn a TC allowance and you use it for a free berth, it only applies to the cruise fare. You still have to pay the taxes, fees and port charges. The formula for calculating the value of the free berth also varies among the cruise lines. It may be based on the dominant cabin category sold, or be an average of the cruise fare sold.
The Tour Conductor allowance originated as a reward for a person who acts as the “pied piper” or organizer/leader of the group. The cruise lines recognize that there are some promotional efforts and communications involved. You are using your network to connect with people that the cruise line could never reach with a personal message from you. And with 80 percent of the people in the United States who have never taken a cruise, this is a vast, untapped market you are helping them penetrate. But unless your travel agent informs you of the Tour Conductor allowance and how to use it properly you may be missing out on a real benefit.
Group Amenity Programs (GAP)
Amenity programs are the second type of incentives offered by most cruise lines for group bookings. Unlike the Tour Conductor allowance, the cruisers traveling in your group may directly benefit.
As stated previously, the industry standard cabin minimum to establish a group is eight full-fare cabins. When you book eight cabins all the rewards begin and you are eligible to receive all types of amenities from the cruise line.
Please note that some cruise lines may start their amenities with a lower number of cabins than the eight required for the TC allowance. If you miss the mark with other cruise lines, you may not receive your amenities. Again, this policy will vary by cruise line. In yet another variation, some cruise lines will provide only certain types of amenities (such as those can be delivered on board) if you do not have eight cabins.
The cruise lines establish for each sailing how many Group Amenity Program points they are providing per cabin. They make this information available only to travel agents. It is up to the travel agent to accurately convey this information to the group leader so that they may book the best cruise that suites their situation.
You might want to note that every cabin booked in your group gets the same amenity. Using a point system such as this, the popular sailings in the high season may have no points assigned. Other sailings in the low season and shoulder season (the abbreviated season between the high and low seasons) may have from two to ten points assigned. Two points are usually valued as an amenity that is worth $25. Keep in mind why the cruise lines have this type of program–to get your group to book cabins on cruises that need more sales.
Here is a small sampling of some of the amenities currently being offered by some cruise lines:
- Fruit Plate
- Wine and Cheese
- Cocktail Party (shared or private)
- On Board Credits
- Photo Coupon
- Group Photo
- Cruise line tote bag
- High Rollers Package
- Premium Dining Experience
- Cabin Category Upgrades
Finder’s Fee Program
We recognize that there are other places where you may chose to do business. For bringing us your group cruise business we provide you a Finder’s Fee after the cruise completes. The Finder’s Fees we pay you come from our bottom line.
We Pay You To Cruise Free
At Group Cruises Unlimited we simplify things for you by bundling the various amenities and credits offered by the cruise lines and our own Finders Fee Program into an easy formula that you can readily understand. It might read something like this:
For every 10 cabins that sail on your group cruise we’ll pay you $2,000.
The actual number of cabins, the amount and other details will be included in a short agreement tailored to your group cruise.
Group Cruises Unlimited is actively seeking prospective leaders for group cruises. If you have a following of friends, neighbors, family, business associates etc. and want to create an event at sea then we need to talk. You can keep the money we pay you for yourself and actually get paid to cruise for free. Alternatively, you can divide the the money up equally among your group, or even donate all or part of the proceeds to a charity.
To discover more about how you can start your own group see the Start A Group page.
Are you planning a family and friends gathering and looking for a great venue? For purposes of this discussion we’ll define “gathering” as four couples looking for a unique vacation experience. I’m not neglecting family groups as that’s the subject of another article. Here are the top five reasons you should consider an ocean cruise on at least a mid-sized vessel.
5. You have a very high probability that all of your participants will enjoy themselves.There’s a 95% satisfaction rate with a cruise according to surveys done by the Cruise Lines International Association. The reason behind this high rate will be evident in the next four items.
4. There’s always some activity going on that will appeal to everyone–both while at sea and in port.. For example, you might be going on an excursion to Mayan ruins with your brother-in-law that his wife (and yours) has absolutely no interest in. The reverse is probably true for a shopping trip. On a sea day, part of your group can be a wine-tasting class, while another is playing bridge, getting a massage, working out, or just relaxing with a good book.
3. You will be entertained. Where else can you go out for a nice show just by taking a short walk from your room every night while on vacation? There are multiple lounges on board to cater to multiple dancing tastes too. Maybe one or two couples like salsa while others go for smooth jazz or the piano bar-or even karaoke. You can all go your separate ways and meet up later at the casino–or not!
2. You will eat well. Now I don’t mean you can pig out. You are more likely to try different dishes on a cruise that you would not order in a restaurant. Why? Because there’s no risk. You know that if you don’t like something you can always ask for something else…and you’ll get it. Try that in a restaurant. One time I couldn’t decide between two appetizer choices, so the waiter brought me both. I did share them, by the way. It’s not uncommon for a waiter to do that with an entree or dessert also.
1. Happy wife…happy life. When you really listen to the women in your family, they will tell you that the only time they can relax from food shopping, meal preparation, laundry and housework chores completely is on a cruise. With a gathering, even finding a restaurant to accommodate everyone can be difficult. Otherwise, for the home-maker, it’s the same old stuff–just a different location! Answer this question and the decision to take a cruise will be easy: Who deserves the vacation the most in your family? When you pick a cruise for that extended family gathering, the Moms in the family will appreciate it the most as they finally will have the time to do their own thing, too.