They say memories are best shared with others. In the case of cruises, this is absolutely true. But, it does take more than just getting on the ‘big ship’ and going from there.
If you’re thinking of heeding the call of the high seas together with family, friends, colleagues, or even just your acquaintances, read on and discover how you can make the most of this precious adventure with the people you’re taking it with.
Plan As Soon As You Can
Whether it’s a long-desired trip or a spur-of-the-moment decision, it is essential that you get the planning wheels turning as soon as possible. Don’t wait for that time when everybody’s ready to shell out their payments, or for when this or that person confirms they’re joining.
Planning for a group requires a bit more preparation, so the earlier you start, the better. Begin by canvassing for great deals or packages to your chosen destination. You can start by searching online or by inquiring from travel agencies.
This way, you get to compare and contrast the available options, and your group gets to decide which deal works best for everyone. You also get to set up a schedule for your departure that will help ensure that everybody gets onboard, on time.
Make sure to keep everyone in the loop about any changes to avoid any miscommunication on various matters, and to prevent arguments too. Relaying those via email is best, so everything is properly documented, and can be easily referred to at a later time.
Consider Cabin Arrangements Carefully
Before you make bookings, make sure that it is established within the group how cabins will be occupied. Discuss how many and who will share a cabin. Verify preferences from members of the group – remember, the point is for every one to have the time of their lives onboard, and this may involve getting the kind of cabin they like.
It will also be best to verify with your travel agent or the cruise company if there any ongoing cabin deals or promos – some ships offer an upgrade when you book a certain number of cabins, others offer dining freebies, some even throw in free photos and parties as perks! Don’t forget to ask about discounts too. Many cruise companies sweeten group deals with more than just a couple of free stuff.
When Possible, Be At The City Of Embarkation A Day Before
No matter how in tune you are with each other, communication between a group can go awry sometimes. Some are early risers, some just take forever to get ready. Be prepared for possible delays by making sure that everyone is lodged in good accommodations near the port. This way, you avoid the possibility of anyone missing embarkation.
If not all or if most of you are not from the city of embarkation, this will also be a fun addition to your adventure – you can enjoy a short tour or use the time to relax and get ready for the big trip ahead.
Plan And Agree On Group Activities
Once you get onboard, it’s highly likely that everyone may have their individual preferences on what to do and where to go. Group cruises don’t have to mean that everybody stays together all the time.
The great thing about a cruise is that it offers a wide variety of activities that cater to different tastes, and they can all be enjoyed on the ship.
Give each member of your group the freedom to try what they want to experience, but you may also want to agree on a particular activity (or activities) that you’ll all enjoy together at one point or another. This way, you still get to touch base with everyone, and maintain that ‘bonding’ aspect of cruising together.
You may also want to do a couple of onshore excursions as a group – the shared experiences in your dream destination will definitely make for beautiful memories of your adventure. These excursions are best booked in advance.
If your group should decide to split up when onshore, make sure to stay in constant communication with each other. You can also assign a meet-up point and schedule.
Use The Buddy System Onboard
Now, while you should let each person make the most of his time onboard, it is also important that you look out for each other. This means taking the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety.
If you’re traveling with small children, make sure that an adult is always available to keep an eye out for them. Cruise ships hold lots of places of wonder for the little ones, and a lot of possible hazards too.
If you’re on a cruise with teenagers or other adults, having a walkie-talkie to carry around and stay in touch with one another is a great idea. This way, you don’t have to rely on possibly sketchy mobile phone signals. You may also want to assign a buddy for each person, so no one is ever truly ‘alone’ onboard.
Dine Together, And Get To Enjoy More Perks!
Planning a cruise trip for an entire group can be an extensive task, especially since it concerns the preferences of more than just one or two people. In terms of dining onboard though, you do have to be thankful that you’re cruising with a group.
Most cruise companies offer either discounts or special dining packages for groups – make sure to ask your travel agent about them.
You may also want to make special arrangements so you can reserve your preferred seats, in your restaurant of choice, on a schedule of your choosing. This way, you do not have to deal with the possibility of having your group separated because there aren’t enough seats available. The staff will also be able to amply prepare for any particular dining requests you may have.
Aside from the savings and upgrades you can get, you can also treat it as your perfect opportunity to talk about how everybody’s day went, which excursions you’d be joining, and how else you can enjoy your adventure onshore.
Cruising with a group of your choice companions is definitely one to look forward to. But, problems can crop up if you don’t carefully plan your trip. Make sure to note the tips above, and take them into consideration so you can fully enjoy your grand vacation.