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Old June 23rd, 2009, 08:00 PM
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Default Organizing a Family Reunion Cruise

Hi everyone! I'm starting to organize a family reunion cruise for fall 2010. I've only been on 1 cruise before so I'm hoping the expert cruisers here can help me out with some advice.

Background for any advice givers:
The family is Trindadian so a good boat for partying is a MUST. They drink rather liberally and enjoy good food but don't need anything too fancy as long as they are having a good time. We've got all ages, but rather few children. There could be anywhere from 10-30 of us by the time its all said and done.

1. Do you recommend going directly through the cruise line or should I find a travel agent for something like this?

2. Is there any cruise line particularly well suited for the sort of folks I've described? Lux lines are definitely out but a party suited premium line isn't out of the question. Or maybe we're best staying in the mass market category.

3. I have an aunt with moderate Alzheimer's that we would love to be able to take with us if possible. Currently my parents and sister take care of her, but I would like to be able to give them a "break" from having to constantly worry about her if possible, but assuming her mental state holds steady I know she would very much enjoy coming with us so we'd like to avoid putting her in a short term assisted care if possible. Does anyone have any experience with hiring a nurse/caretaker to come along with a family member on a cruise ship?
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Old June 24th, 2009, 08:03 AM
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We do an annual "family reunion" cruise, and it sounds pretty much like what you're describing, as far as folks who attend. It's the easiest thing in the world to set up, and the beautiful part is that no one has the burden of cooking, cleaning, organizing, or worrying about others. Once aboard, we pick an area on the Lido deck where we go when eating breakfast or lunch at the buffet, then it's easy to find everyone who happens to be there. Also, I'd recommend that you sail a ship, and line that offers traditional dining, and that way your entire group will eat together each night, and you can discuss the day, and plans for the next day. We almost always do "Carnival", or "Princess" as they both have excellent childrens programs, and also lots and lots of activities for the older folks. I suggest that you get a GOOD agent, and let him/her do all the work of booking everyone who wants to go, and linking all the bookings so you'll dine together, etc. The line could do this also, but IMO a really good agent will watch over your booking better. All you need to do is pick a ship, and sailing. Pick an agent to handle the entire booking, and tell everyone to contact the agent for their booking. If you don't have a good agent, ask around, or just P.M. me, and I'll pass along my agent who does an EXCELLENT job.

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Old June 24th, 2009, 10:29 AM
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I have to agree with the previous poster, find a good cruise travel agent that will be available to answer your questions and book the right cruise for the entire family.

Any idea where exactly you want to cruise to?
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Old June 24th, 2009, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donna
Any idea where exactly you want to cruise to?
I think we're going to stick to the Carribean (likely a cruise leaving out of Miami or Ft Lauderdale). Probably a 7 dayer, but not sure if we want to do Eastern or Western yet.

Personally I would like to do an Alaska cruise but I think I'll be outvoted. Its weird, my family lives in FL and Trinidad but they'd rather stay in the Carribean !

Quote:
Also, I'd recommend that you sail a ship, and line that offers traditional dining, and that way your entire group will eat together each night, and you can discuss the day, and plans for the next day.
I'm torn on this one, I don't want people to feel as though the HAVE to be tied to the family the whole time, but having dinner together would definetely be nice. I was thinking either Princess or NCL would suit our needs.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 11:52 AM
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Default Family Reunion

We had such a cruise last Thanksgiving. We took our first carnival crusie and everyone had a great time. I would highly recommend Carnival for a family reunion. Afterall they do have party ships. We are long time cruisers however never before on Carnival. In additon we found the food exellant and that will go a long way with all your family members.I agree with the other writers about having a good travel agent. Don't try to do this on your own. With 30 passengers you are in a good postion to negotiate the "final" price. When we go as a group we do not accept "free" cabins, but rather try to negotiate a lower price for everyone or get some ship credits or any extras we can with that size group. Right now is a great time to get those free extras. If your initial travel agent contact is not willing to do this, them move on to a travel agent who will "work for you". Some travfel agencts in the business may have never traveled outside the city limits therefore look for a travel agent that will understand your needs.There is no single table in the dining room that can accomodate that large number so have your travel agent to do the best he/she can. Then once you get on board compare where the groups' seating has been assigned. If you are not satisfied and would like to have seating closer together, talk with the person in charge of dining room assigments and see what you can work out. On the Lido Deck you still want have tables where that large a group can sit, however you will find tables that can accomodate 8 to 10 people and you all probally will want to dine with different family members at such meals. Don't know if family members will be flying or driving. If flying make your arrangements far enough in advance to get the best discounts. If your travel agent does this, check and recheck the fares to make sure that you are getting the lowest prices available, but just remember such tickets more than likely can't be changed later on. Also don't fall for "fees" an agent says have to be charged. Remember you are the customer so don't settle for less than what you want.Have a great family reunion!!
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Old June 24th, 2009, 12:17 PM
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Hello again Trintrin: The reason I suggest that you get your dining room assignment, with everyone seated near each other, is exactly what you commented on. By doing this, everyone knows that IF they want to get with the rest of the group, they can always find them at dinner, but the rest of the time, and even at dinner, they aren't bound to stay with the group. NCL has only open seating dinner, and if that's more to your liking, then I know you won't be disappointed with NCL. Carnival, or Princess on the other hand, has traditional dining, (Actually, some of the Carnival ships offer BOTH) and I absolutely know you'll love cruising of either of these lines. Princess tends to be slightly more expensive than Carnival, but they offer some ports that aren't available on Carnival as well. Hope this helps, and I know you'll love having a family reunion aboard ship. Our family can't wait for the next one!

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Old July 8th, 2009, 02:50 PM
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Well I've started! It looks like we'll be sailing Carnival, likely a Western Carribbean leaving from Miami in late 2010.

Wish me luck! Any advice anyone wants to throw out there is VERY much appreciated.
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Old July 8th, 2009, 05:35 PM
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I'll throw my 2 cents worth in. As the other have stated get a GOOD travel agent. With a group this size an agent can really give you some good help. I've been on at least 14 group cruises with Carnival and have never been disappointed. PM me if I can help you out.
I am going with a group the end of Jan. to the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Legend and really looking forward to it. Hope you have great success with your group.
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Old July 9th, 2009, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trintrin86
Well I've started! It looks like we'll be sailing Carnival, likely a Western Carribbean leaving from Miami in late 2010.

Glad you've got it all going. I'd be willing to bet that everything will go off without a hitch, and that your family will have such a good time that they'll start planning next years "family reunion cruise" almost immediately. See y'all aboard!

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Old July 9th, 2009, 07:31 PM
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Carnival is a good choice -- do be sure when picking an agent, that you specifically ask up front about tour operative incentive. I organized our family cruise through an agent and did not ask (I had 18) and when someone told me about it, I was treated with -- well, we can give you that, but we will have to take away your $50 OBC's. Just know what you are getting from the get go.
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Old July 10th, 2009, 02:57 PM
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You asked about cruising with someone who needs a caregiver on board. While I have no direct experience, we had a table mate once who was an older woman with advanced cerebal palsy. She had to be fed every bite of food. Her health care person was with her 24/7 except in the afternoons, when the woman napped. They were actually both delightful in their own ways. And the staff (Carnival) in the dining room went out of their way to make sure that all was well. It is doable, as long as someone is dedicated to tasking care of her for the entire cruise. As to whether your aunt will really enjoy it or not depends on how advanced her condition is. But, it seems like a very loving, family thing to try to do.
Good luck and happy sailing,
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Old July 14th, 2009, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colorcrazie
You asked about cruising with someone who needs a caregiver on board. While I have no direct experience, we had a table mate once who was an older woman with advanced cerebal palsy. She had to be fed every bite of food. Her health care person was with her 24/7 except in the afternoons, when the woman napped. They were actually both delightful in their own ways. And the staff (Carnival) in the dining room went out of their way to make sure that all was well. It is doable, as long as someone is dedicated to tasking care of her for the entire cruise. As to whether your aunt will really enjoy it or not depends on how advanced her condition is. But, it seems like a very loving, family thing to try to do.
Good luck and happy sailing,
Marty
Thanks for the info, glad to hear the staff was also caring in the situtation. My biggest concern is that she would wander out of the cabin in the middle of the night and get confused about where she is. I'm hoping that we can also get a family member directly across the hall from her room.
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Old July 14th, 2009, 09:56 AM
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My brother is severely autistic and my parents took him on a cruise. I know it's not exactly the same. My brother didn't need a care giver. However, one time he did walk out of the room and got locked out. It freaked out my parents. They found him at the buffet.

I'm guessing there are caregivers willing to go on the cruise with you guys. To bad you aren't going to Alaska it is beautiful there. My hubby and I took a 12 day Alaskan cruise out of San Francisco.
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