Hi Chef Ken,
I've been on a couple of group trips organized by, in this case, a couple. I enjoyed them very much and I got a firsthand look at what is involved, and I can tell you it takes a very special type of person to do this.
I couldn't do it; or maybe I should say, I wouldn't do it. It takes a level of organization and patience that is way beyond me. Even for free, I don't see how you can relax and enjoy a trip with 20-25 people expecting you to take care of their every little problem and need.
Thanks, but no thanks!
Ken, to answer your original question, for most cruises up to 10 days long, most cruise lines give you one free cruise berth (not cabin) for every 8 cabins you fill. If you fill 16 cabins, you get two free berths, or one cabin. Please note that these free berths do NOT include taxes, which you still have to pay, and sometimes do not include airfare even if the group has booked airfare through the cruise line.
It's up to you whether you want to organize excursions or whatnot. You can book this group through a travel agent, still earn the free trips, but not have to do the actual booking, collecting money, etc yourself. You will, however, be noted as the "group leader" and, once you're actually on the cruise, you'll be the "liaison" between the group and the cruise line.
I've booked lots of groups where the group leader asks me to escort the group, just to take care of any problems that arise. There are several different ways I can do this, one of them being that I use one of the free cruises that have been earned, but there are other ways as well. It works well for group leaders who don't, in fact, want to "take care of their every little problem and need."
It should also be noted that some cruise lines average the amount they give toward the "free" based on the most cabins sold in the group. For instance, if you were a group leader and sailed in a balcony, but 5 inside cabins are sold, 2 outside, and 1 balcony; you would not get the full cost of the balcony berth.
Fanatic, you're quite right. The value of the free cruise berth(s) usually equals the value of the type of cabin that has most of the group's bookings. If the group sails in 5 inside rooms and 4 balcony rooms, the free cruise will equal the cost of the inside berth, not including tax.
Over the years, I've seen the free berth be a minimum category no matter what type of rooms the group has, and I've seen the free berth be the minimum category that the group is holding, no matter how many rooms are booked in other categories. I'm glad most of those policies have gone by wayside.