Group Travel Has Many Advantages

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Why choose group travel you might ask. What are the advantages of group travel? There are several.

Perhaps the most important is a feeling of safety in numbers. People who have never cruised before will feel more comfortable in a group of friends, or even people they don’t know, but who are from the same town or who share a common interest. That interest could be wine tasting, birding, photography, bridge, culinary arts, quilting, etc. The list is almost endless.

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Photo courtesy of Carol Watts

A cruise that caters to quilters takes place Nov. 5-12, 2011.

One of the other big benefits to group travel is the discounted rate. This applies to both cruise and tour bookings. While tour groups are more destination-oriented, a cruise group of crafters or card players is usually willing to cruise to any destination, as long as they can participate in their hobby.

In addition to reduced fares, groups benefit from GAP, or amenity points. These vary from one cruise to another, and are determined by either the length of a cruise, or how well the cruise is expected to sell. Amenity points can be anything from a bottle of wine, chocolate covered strawberries, a free photo, a free alternative restaurant meal, or the most coveted — on-board credits. Everyone in the group gets the same amenity, so on-board credit provides the most flexibility for individuals. They can use their credit to purchase drinks, bingo cards, gift shop items or whatever. Anything that is charged to your on-board account, including gratuities, shore excursions, Internet time, can be offset by an on-board credit.

Now that you know the benefits, let’s look at the offerings. We affiliated with Americas Vacation Center last year because of the many group sailings it offers. Because of this host agency’s size, it can create many more groups than we can as an independent agency. So you might come in to book a cruise, and end up in a pre-arranged group. That doesn’t mean that you have to associate with these people. It does mean that you get reduced fares and amenities.

Cruise Port Travel has reserved group space on the following sailings:

• Dec. 18 – Dec. 22, 2010, round trip from Los Angeles on the Sapphire Princess. This is a little “filler” cruise. Something between two established itineraries. It has only one sail date and goes to a unique port of call, Santa Barbara, as well as Ensenada, Mexico. The shore excursions for both ports are winery tours. This is a great opportunity for people who want to try a cruise to see how they like it. It’s short, sweet, and inexpensive! Interior cabin fares start at $387 per person, including port charges and government taxes and fees. As with all cruises, gratuities, travel insurance, shore excursions, and transportation to the pier are additional.

• Feb. 12 – Feb. 19, 2011, a 7-day Mexican Riviera round trip from Los Angeles on the Sapphire Princess, from $721 per person, with $75 on-board credit per cabin.

• Feb. 13 – Feb. 20, 2011, a 7-day eastern Caribbean round trip from Ft. Lauderdale on the Ruby Princess, from $852 per person, with $75 on-board credit per cabin.

• Feb. 19 – Feb. 26, 2011, a 7-day western Caribbean round trip from Ft. Lauderdale on the Crown Princess, from $989 per person, with $50 on-board credit.

• March 14 – March 18, 2011, a 4-day Collette tour to San Antonio from $899 per person, without air.

• March 26 - April 2, 2011, a 7-day Hawaii round trip from Honolulu on the NCL’s Pride of America, from $1,405 per person, with $50 on-board credit.

• April 3 – April 13, 2011, a 10-day eastern Caribbean round trip from Ft. Lauderdale on the Star Princess, from $1,468 per person, with $85 on-board credit per cabin.

• June 4 – June 11, 2011, a 7-day Alaska cruise and 4-day land tour from Vancouver to Anchorage with Denali and Mt. McKinley, Coral Princess, from $1,924 per person with $60 on-board credit.

• And my personal favorite, Oct. 22 - Nov. 19, 2011, a 28-day round trip Los Angeles, Sapphire Princess, to Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, and French Polynesia, from $3,597 per person with $50 on-board credit per cabin. This is a great cruise for anyone who doesn’t want the long flight to Tahiti.

• Also, for quilters, Nov. 5 – Nov. 12, 2011, a 7-day Mexican Riviera round trip from San Diego, Holland America’s Oosterdam, from $794 per person with $75 on-board credit per cabin. Quilting classes are additional.

Do you belong to any clubs, organizations, or church groups? Why not design your own group cruise or land vacation. Benefit from reduced rates and amenities. Remember, passports are needed for cruises or tours out of the U.S. Come see us at Cruise Port Travel, 900 W. Driftwood Dr. Payson, (928) 472-7878 or www.travelpayson.com.

Additionally we serve as concierge for groups visiting the Rim Country in conjunction with a program from the Chamber of Commerce. If you are hosting a group event, please call us for reduced hotel rates. Go to www.paysonrimcountryconcierge .com for contact information.

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