Are you the leader for a group cruise? If so, then you probably have some questions about what special amenities your group is entitled to.
WHAT ARE GROUP AMENITY POINTS?
Group amenity points (or GAP points) are points that cruise lines give as an incentive for groups to book with their cruise line. The number of points awarded to each group (if any) is based on the popularity of any particular cruise itinerary. For instance, if a cruise line wants to promote a specific cruise that may be a slow seller for them, they will typically offer more group amenity points for that sailing. On the other hand, if a particular sailing is popular, the group amenity points will be low (if any are offered at all). Because GAP points can amount to a significant value for your group, it's important to ask the cruise line or your travel agent which sailings will result in the most group amenity points.
The amount of points awarded for most group cruise bookings is somewhere between two points and eight points. Some cruise lines will have promotions where they'll award a huge number of points (over eight) if they are really trying to push a specific cruise sailing. But, typically, the number of points is eight and under.
WHAT CAN WE DO WITH OUR GAP POINTS?
Group amenity points can be sent like a coupon. They can be sent on a variety of items or activities. Usually, the cruise line wants to know how your group's points will be sent by the time final payment is due.
Things that GAP points can be sent on are:
Photos: Through the cruise, the ship's photographer is taking photos of the passengers. When guests arrive onboard the ship, their photo is usually taken. At most ports of call, the ship's photographer is usually waiting to catch a shot of passengers with some type of prop that identifies the port (like a life preserver with the name of the port of call). Also, if the ship has a formal night, there are usually stations set up through the ship with a variety of different backgrounds. Go to all the photo stations and take as many different photos as possible. This way you'll be sure to get a good one out of the bunch. You can usually spend one GAP point for a photo credit for your group. This is a great benefit, as everyone will go home with a professional photo to memorialize their trip.
Special Restaurant: Most ships now offer a specialty restaurant with a premium charge of approximately $ 20. The quality of the food is high end – as it's easier for the ship to prepare a higher quality of cuisine on a smaller scale. This benefit usually costs groups two points and is a wonderful benefit.
Bottle of Wine: Many groups like the idea of a bottle of wine waiting in their stateroom to welcome them onboard their cruise. This is a very popular way to spend your points and it typically costs one or two points.
Fruit Basket or Other Food Items : Would your group members like a welcome fruit basket in their stateroom when they arrive? Or maybe they like like some chocolate covered strawberries or a small tray of canapes? This is a popular choice for groups and usually costs one or two points.
Shipboard Credit: Some cruise lines will offer a choice of $ 25 or $ 50 shipboard credit per stateroom. This is one of the most expensive amenity choices (using four or more of your points) and not all cruise lines offer it.
The group leader will need to make the decision about how to spend the GAP points awarded to the group because everyone in the group will receive the same things. People in the group can not select different amenity choices – everyone in the group will receive the same benefits.
WILL WE ALWAYS RECEIVE OUR GAP POINTS?
You may not realize it, but one of the group amenity choices that your group can select is additional commission for your travel agent. In fact, some travel agents will not even tell you about your group's GAP points and will spend them on additional commission for themselves. A reputable agent would never do this, but not all agents are honest. So, make sure you select an agent you can trust. Ask them to show you the group cruise contract. This will reveal the total amenity points awarded to your group.
USING A TRAVEL AGENT OR GOING DIRECT
As the group leader, you are responsible for making sure your group gets the most value for the money. Deciding whether to use a travel agent or going directly with the cruise line is a decision you'll need to make. Some leaders believe they'll get a better deal if they go direct through the cruise line. This certainly is not true. We recommend making the choice to use a travel agent. Why? A travel agent can compare offers and benefits from a variety of cruise lines. The cruise lines will not be able to determine the best value for your group, as they can only recommend their own cruise line (as that's all they're familiar with). So, you can be sure you're getting the best value available from any cruise line when you use the services of a good travel agent.
Knowing what group amenity points are and what you, as the group cruise leader, can do with them is an important part of being in charge. Take the time to determine the best value for your GAP points and, if you do it right, your group will appreciate you and give you all the kudos you deserve for your efforts in making the trip a success.