5 Tips for Planning the Ultimate Family Reunion Cruise
When you're searching for a vacation that will have something for all ages, cruises are an excellent option. Cruise lines are used to working with groups and even add extra value to large groups traveling together.
Some of the other common groups that are a great fit for cruising include:
Dance or Sports Groups
Wedding Party Groups
Homeschool / Educational Groups
and literally a ton more - cruise companies are so great to work with and will supply ample space and equipment to make your event a success - you just have to ask!
Why cruising is the perfect group travel choice?
If you ask 10 people what their perfect vacation looks like, you'll get 10 different answers. Believe me - I know because that's the first question I ask during my trip planning consultations, and the answers are always as varied as the people on this earth.
But that's the EXACT reason I love to plan group cruises for my clients. Cruises offer a unique solution to the 'one-size-DOESN'T-fit-all' conundrum group travelers face because there is simply something for everyone on board, no matter their age, ability, or interests.
Foodies will love the endless all-you-can-enjoy dining (including appetizers and desserts!)
Adventurous souls will get a thrill out of activities like waterslides, surf simulators, or even port tours of hiking, kayaking, or snorkeling.
Entertainment buffs will go ga-ga over the broadway-style performances, karaoke dance parties, and first-run movies in the onboard theaters.
Night Owls can dance the night away in the active nightclubs, speakeasy saloons, or casual lounges.
Tired parents and sugared-up children will both enthusiastically adore the free childcare clubs!
Relaxed travelers will love hanging on the balcony catching sun and waves, as well as catnaps.
Special Perks for Group Cruises!
Something many cruisers don't know is that when they book their cruise through a cruise planning advisor, they get some amazing perks and special discounts not offered to the general public....do you like onboard credits, cheese, and wine plates, or even free cruise fare? Gather up your favorite people and book in a group because seriously everyone wins with better discounts AND special rewards are gravy!
So how to get the most out of your group cruise...
1. Plan Ahead
My regular clients may get tired of hearing me say it - but plan ahead! In the cruise industry, the VERY best rates will be as soon as itineraries come out, with prices skyrocketing the closer they get to the sail dates. Plus, you want to make sure there's availability for all your guests so planning ahead is essential (not to mention you get more cash-back bonuses by planning ahead)! Start planning your group cruise 8-12 months before your anticipated sail date for optimum pricing and amenities.
2. Consider the Cruise Line
We are living in an exciting time for cruising - there are so many fantastic cruise brands out there for every price point and lifestyle. When planning for your group, it's so important to consider the travel style and expectations of your group when selecting a specific cruise line.
For example, if your guests are a group of moms looking to get away from the kids and have some peace and quiet - a family cruise ship likely won't fit the bill. I would recommend an adults-only ship (or a ship with fantastic adults-only areas). In the same vein, a family reunion would be best suited to a family cruise line, like a Disney Cruise, where there are tons of activities for all ages and interests.
Also, consider destinations and cruise types. Certain cruise lines do River Cruising amazingly well, while others specialize in Alaskan adventures or the Caribbean. Pre- and post-cruise tours are available, as well as varying onboard ambiance, entertainment, and even spa and dining experiences, depending on which cruise line you select.
3. Select a Convenient Departure Port
Once you've settled on a cruise supplier, you'll want to select a departure port that is convenient for the majority of guests, and then select a sailing date and cruise ship based on your preferred timeframes. Remember, the easier it is to get to, the more people will come! It will be more economical, as well.
4. Togetherness is good, but not ALL the time
Plan to have scheduled group activities, but leave ample time to allow attendees to explore and break out on their own. Nobody wants to feel like every second of their day is booked up.
Most cruise lines offer a group dining service which is a great way to catch up with the group each evening, along with some scheduled activities such as shore excursions, special seminars, or a game night.
5. Follow-up with your group after the cruise
This step is so often forgotten but so darn important! Technology makes it so incredibly easy to connect, even amongst our busy lives. Free online survey platforms, like Google Forms, make it simple to send out a questionnaire post-cruise to see what the highlights and lowlights were for everyone. Plus, it's a great way to start planning the next trip if you're hoping to make it a yearly event.
Putting it ALL together...
I know, it's a lot to consider - but I promise it's so worth it! It's kind of like those old infomercials, you can 'set it and forget it', but first it needs to be put together ahead of time. I'll walk you through each step - and help you navigate which cruise line will be an AMAZING fit for your attendees.
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