I am the planner for a family cruise in August 2018 to Alaska or Caribbean(still deciding) . We will have 9 Adults, 4 couples and one single (ME!). What is the best way to book the entire vacation. A Travel Agent or directly. The problem I have is most cruise line only allow you to book one stateroom at a time. What would you recommend?
Group Cruise Booking
I would contact the line directly via telephone. You may be able to get a discount on a group booking. This is not offered online.
Carnival will allow you to book more than one cabin at a time online. I booked and deposited all three of our cabins at the same time. The bookings are linked, but each has it's own separate booking number.
I don't recommend doing the bookings on your own unless you are sure about your cabins and preferences.
Lots of folks have TAs and highly recommend going that route. I had a very unpleasant experience with our third cruise, and I won't use a TA again unless there is a huge financial advantage. I want to be able to speak with Carnival directly about bookings, and you can't do that if you have a TA involved. A Carnival PVP might be just what you need :) You can call the 800 number and ask for a PVP.
Since you seem sure everyone is going, I would call the cruise line directly and see what they can offer You will not have not committed and it only will take some of your time. When we have groups that go, each person is responsible for their own booking and we link them to one booking number (usually ours) for dining purposes. There are some very good Travel agents out there, I unfortunately cannot help there. Check under the heading "MORE" at the top of this page and cruiseline.com will be able to set you up with a travel agent. Good luck, please, keep us posted.
Booking as a so called "group" and taking advantage of the discounted rate has its pitfalls. The largest of which is what happens if only one cabin suddenly needs to cancel. The penalty is usually that the whole group loses its booking. A lot can happen in a year. My advice, avoid the group rate, and just have everyone book cabins on their own. A travel agent will be of more service if you want to book cabins that are close to each other, especially cruise specialists, since they often have some pull with the cruise lines. If necessary, get the other's credit card #s for the deposits so you can at least do the bookings all at once, rather than rely on everyone else's " oh yeah, I have to do that " attitude.
just my opinion
On this site, there is a poster, WeCruiseToo, and they are TA's. They were the booking agent for the CruiseLine.com cruise. Get in touch with them. They would be able to help you.
here is their website: cruisesinc.com
I would strongly suggest using an experienced cruise Travel Agent or call the cruise line directly. As for whether to choose the Caribbean or Alaska, consult your travelers for thieir preference. Also, check rates for both destinations to see which is more economical. Again, a travel agent could help you decide.
Booking via agent will cost you some extra pennies. There are many cruise booking websites from where you can book your cruise vacation. I have been on a family cruise vacation last month. We were 12 people including adults and kids. I have booked the cruise from Cruisemeout. They allow group booking and yes you can also book multiple staterooms at a time. They have a separate page for group booking which you can visit here: http://cruisemeout.com/group-booking
Agents often can get better deals because of their volume and relationships with the cruise lines. They don't cost "extra pennies " as previously stated. Agents can also keep track of the booking and price drops.
You have a lot of information here. I certainly hope it helps. Please, let us know what you do and how it works out for you. There is probably someone else out there that can benefit from your experience.
Contact a good TA who has experience in group bookings. It won't cost you any more and just might save you some money.