Great vacations aren’t necessarily about getting away from it all. There can be real benefits to taking some of it with you, especially your family and friends.
Group cruises are becoming the hottest trend in the travel industry, as more people agree that the family that plays together stays together, and why not play together on an incredible cruise ship?
Whether you’re celebrating a silver anniversary, planning a university reunion, or bonding with your yoga club, a group cruise can be invigorating, fun, and a bargain!
Why Consider a Group Cruise
Being together on a cruise ship can be perfect for everyone. As you sail around the Caribbean, you can enjoy each other’s company over lunch, arrange for a private room for a quiet discussion, and then enjoy separate activities for the afternoon. Large cruise ships provide the perfect balance between fun activities you can do together, and private places to enjoy some alone time.
Most cruise lines define a “group cruise” as a minimum of eight double-occupancy suites. The two most popular kinds of group cruises are the family reunion, and the “affinity group”.
Cruises are perfect for families because there are activities for every age group. Parents can drop off the kids at the children’s club and go dancing, while teenagers hang out in the ice cream bar, and the aunts get together for bridge in the Games room or schedule time at the spa for a group mani/pedi.
Family cruises are easy to organize, since the point is just to be together and have fun. All you need is a good travel agent to help you plan, and a family you enjoy spending time with.
Affinity group cruises are organized for people who share a common interest. There are entire ships booked for activities like poker playing and jazz appreciation, where you can join in and get to know people who share your passions.
You can also organize a group cruise for whatever group you want; your business organization, walking group or book club. There are even group cruises being arranged as fund-raising events. If you’ve got enough people to fill eight double occupancy rooms, you’ve got yourself a group cruise.
Many of these group cruises feature classes or group tours and activities, such as workshops or special guest speakers.
How to Organize a Group Cruise
The first thing you need a good travel agent who specializes in cruise deals, to help you with all the details. Shop around a little to see who can get you the best group discount.
While your travel agent will help communicate information about payments, dining requests and documentation, you will need a leader in your group to be the main point person. That person will be in charge of organizing any on-board activities, including meetings, classes, or workshops.
Most cruise lines will provide a free berth for a “tour conductor”, if you book eight double-occupancy staterooms. Book 16, and you will get two free berths (a free stateroom). Usually, the free room goes to the tour organizer, or is used for special guest speakers or instructors.
Aside from the free berths, there can be other perks to group travel; including group discount rates, complimentary wine, cocktail parties or casino credits. Make sure to book early so you can choose the best location for your group’s staterooms, and so you won’t be disappointed if you need space for private gatherings.
Whether you love spending time with the ladies in your scrap-booking club, or you think your next high school reunion should be held on the high seas, why not organize your friends and family into a group cruise? With a little planning, some imagination, and the help of a good travel agency, your next group event could also be the vacation of a lifetime!