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Large Association Cruise

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Our Association hosts a cruise for 60-75 people every other year for 5-7 days. We typically leave from a port in Florida. Members are price conscious but naturally want the best value. The Association needs to purchase the cruise tickets wholesale and sell retail. If we involve a travel agent, that cuts out what we can bring in. If we contact the cruise line directly, they want to point us back to a local travel agent. What's the best way to get a great group rate that's a good bit below the internet pricing?

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    There are travel agents that specialize in group cruise travel. I think that's where you need to go. Usually when organizers want to do this, they utilize the services of a professional to make the arrangements. Most cruise lines won't deal with you directly.

    But I would also say that there is no such thing as getting cruise tickets "wholesale" and selling them "retail". That's not the way cruises are sold. Travel agents get a commission, which is paid by the cruise line (and which does not affect the rate you pay). The sponsor of a group cruise gets all cabins at the group discount and, typically, re-sells the cruise to its members for full price (or sometimes more if the group is bringing on special entertainment or lectures). But these days, I'm not sure that's going to be better than the so-called "internet" price, which is usually a transaction where the travel agent gives up a portion of his or her commission in order to offer a "discount" to the cruiser. (Most cruise lines prohibit this practice, so that's why you don't typically find cruise prices vary all that much, but it still happens.) But if you use a good travel agent, the organizer will also get free cabins and can sell those to make a profit (or more typically use them for the organizers).

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