One of the hottest trends in travel right now is taking the family to sea. I'm not talking about just the immediate family -- cruise ships have been the best vacation venue for parents with kids since the first megaliners launched with video arcades, designated kids areas, planned activities and youth counselors in the late 80's.
No, I'm talking about the mother of all family get-togethers, the multi-generation, extended-family reunion. With grandma and grandpa, great aunts and uncles, adult children, college students on breaks, teens, pre-teens and toddlers -- even in-laws.
Far-flung relations from different states or countries, running the gamut of tastes, interests and physical capabilities, are finding vacations at sea are just the ticket to a great reunion.
I've arranged three of these reunions for my own extended family in the past several years, and have fond memories of them all. On our first trip, we met in Miami for a cruise to the Caribbean. We followed that up with a rendezvous in Vancouver and an Alaska Inside Passage cruise, and we eventually traveled all the way to the Mediterranean.
For that third trip, I coordinated our flights so that we connected in the Atlanta airport and flew together to the departure port in Barcelona, Spain, making the trip less stressful for those in our group that had never been to Europe.
When I recall these trips, I vividly remember how stress-free they were. Unlike the classic out-of-town reunion, no one is the "host", no one is responsible for keeping everyone happy and entertained, and the list of possibilities for fun and excitement is far greater on a cruise than anywhere else that I know of.
If a floating family reunion is on your horizon, here are some things to keep in mind.
First, if you will need more than 4 cabins, you may qualify for a "group" discount, which is typically lower than the early-bird discounts offered to individuals. Most cruise lines require at least 8 double-occupancy cabins for this rate, but occasionally the requirement drops as low as 5 cabins.
Second, you will generally need to book early in order to qualify for group discounts and amenities. Most cruise lines offer group rates starting a year or more prior to departure, and withdraw them 5 or 6 months in advance of departure. It is not possible to establish a new group at the last-minute, though it is sometimes possible to add cabins to an existing group close to departure.
Third, if your group books at least 8 double-occupancy cabins, one member of your group will cruise for free (this does not include air or port charges), or you can reduce everyone's discounted group rate by a prorated amount. Sometimes the organizer of the trip takes that freebie, but frequently it is shared among all guests.
And finally, we have a Group Department that specializes in bookings of 5 or more cabins and they are experts in handling family reunions, church and civic groups, alumni associations, business conferences and seminars at sea. To read more about the special treatment and amenities they can set up for your group onboard, and other helpful info for planning a group cruise, click here. To speak to someone in our Group Department, call 800-514-9986.
Chairman & CEO
Vacations To Go
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