Family Reunion Cruising

All the Fun, Minus the Stress

One of the reasons cruise travel is so appealing is that it’s beautifully stress-free. Simply select a destination and ship, pay a fare that includes everything you need, step on board and let the crew serve you.

However, one type of cruise that can really raise the stress factor, especially if you try to make arrangements without the help of a professional travel agent.

A family reunion cruise – intended to bring together an extended family for an ideal vacation – can turn into a nightmare of logistics. Setting a date and a budget are just the beginning. Making arrangements for everyone to get to the ship on time – not to mention selecting a ship, itinerary and activities that will please family members of all ages– can be challenging and time-consuming.

Fortunately, a professional travel agent with experience in group cruise travel will take that burden off your shoulders. Your agent will work with you and your family members – yes, even your picky Aunt Rita – from the earliest stages of planning through post-cruise travel. Here are just some of the ways an agent can help:

  • It’s hard to please all of the people all of the time, but an agent will help you select a destination and itinerary that everyone can enjoy. Your agent may have some ideas for making the selection process fun and participatory, such as asking family members to rank their favorite destinations.
  • Your agent’s knowledge of ships, staterooms and amenities will help you select a ship that will keep everyone happy. Some ships are especially well-equipped for multi-generational groups, with kids’ clubs, teen-only lounges, spas and fitness centers for adults, and deck games and quiet spaces for grandparents.
  • Your agent can secure the best pricing for your family, too. Agents have access to special fares and discounts that are not available to the general public; and, they’ll ensure you receive any group travel discounts you’re entitled to. Did you know that most cruise lines offer a free fare when your group reaches a certain size (often around 15 passengers), and you can all share in the savings?
  • If you want a place for your family to gather on board, your agent can negotiate to secure an on-board lounge or meeting room exclusively for your use. Depending on the cruise line and the size of your reunion, you might qualify for other amenities, such as a welcome reception with an officer of the ship. You can ask your agent to arrange for everyone to dine together, too.
  • Your agent will work with individual family members to make their flight or other travel arrangements to and from the ship. Instead of calling you when plans and needs change, Aunt Rita can call your agent!
  • To have fun together off the ship, your agent can arrange family shore excursions. You could select an excursion that all three or four generations of family members can enjoy together, and offer a choice of excursions another day (for example, some family members could have an outdoor adventure, while others enjoy a cultural experience).
  • Keeping everyone informed is important. Ask your agent to help you create a simple e-mail newsletter that will keep everyone up-to-date on schedules, deadlines for payment, planned activities, and fun information about the ship and the ports of call.
    • Planning a reunion cruise requires some lead time, especially if your family is large and spread out. Find your agent and start planning at least a year in advance. With your agent’s help, the planning and anticipation of your reunion cruise will be part of the fun!