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Ronoh August 8th, 2011 04:07 PM

Family Reunion Cruise... where to start?
My family has our reunion every year with the yearly "host" duties alternating between the nine cousins. The next time I host will be our 20th year and we've been chatting about doing a cruise for the special anniversary.

I am very excited about the big years responsibilities falling on me and I am the type who will happily spend endless hours on the details to make sure everything runs as smoothly (and as fun!) as possible and do it all with a smile on my face. The details are my favorite part, I would much rather get this organized myself rather than deal with a travel agent... my problem is, where do I start?

We will have between 19-23 adults (21 and older) and 11 children (ages 3-14) so we will require a fair number of cabins... current thought is Bahamas... either early August or Thanksgiving weekend... 3, 4, or 6 nights (probably 4)... departure port isn't terribly important as we will all be flying in...

I don't need specifics ATM as I have a couple of years to figure the whole thing out, but where can I start looking for group discounts and such? Right now what I'm after is a good approximate price on 9 - 12 cabins so we can figure out if it's worth getting to work on.

Any help would be appreciated, thanks! :)

fun2cruiz August 8th, 2011 04:50 PM

Working with that large amount of passengers is more daunting than you may realize. Being that it is a "couple years" before it will actually happen, there is no way to give an accurate possible price structure you will be looking at....too early.

You should have a meeting with everyone and decide the length of cruise, itinerary preferred, and per family budget to work within. After deciding that, begin your research.

Personally I would not rule out working with a TA on this at all. Their services are free and will eliminate your headaches i.e. collecting deposits, final payments, correct names for documentation, going over all the mirage' of questions that are certain to follow..... ARGH !!!

Best of luck in your reunion cruise !

Sistersolo August 8th, 2011 05:06 PM

A good place to start would be to check with everyone to make sure they're comfortable with the idea of a cruise. There is a population out there that absolutely will not go out to sea! And others who are hyper-concerned about seasickness. How many of the group have cruised before? Do any of them have a cruiseline preference? Cabin type preference?

To get a "feel" for prices, check out one of the cruise bargain web sites. Even though your trip is two years away, you'll be able to evaluate how a cruise would compare with some other choice. Remember that all meals and shipboard entertainment, including day activities for the little ones, is included.

But by all means work with a TA. Not only will it not add to your cost, it might reduce it. For the size of the group you're discussing, you should be getting at least one cabin at no cost. A TA may be able to help save money on airfares, too.

fun2cruiz August 8th, 2011 05:16 PM

In actuality, if booking this as a group and using the approx. # of staterooms that OP is figuring on, they would only earn (1) free berth (not stateroom) i.e. (1) free berth per 8 staterooms booked @ double occupancy.

OP also, before you can start looking at costs, you need to look at length of cruise, time of year, etc. That can make a huge difference when doing your shopping.

Trip August 8th, 2011 06:12 PM

The hardest thing I have gleaned over the years, with people doing what you are doing is, getting people to agree on the date. This seems to be a sticking point...usually the most popular time frame wins out,and people then, have to adjust.

Absolutely you will need the help of a cruise specialist, to coordinate it all from their end..Don't book through the cruise line directly. Good luck..we are here to help with whatever we can.

Donna August 8th, 2011 10:24 PM

When exactly are you planning this family cruise?? I would highly recommend using a good travel agent, they should be able to help you pick out the right one for all the family members going and I also agree, just make sure everyone wants to do this and start narrowing down a time frame... Can't think of a better way to spend time with family and friends.

Ronoh August 9th, 2011 02:13 AM

Wow, thanks for all the quick replies!

I can see already that this will probably be too overwhelming for me to handle alone so a TA will eventually enter the mix. I've really never used one, how far in advance would be acceptable to get a TA involved? The trip is two years away and I won't have a confirmed head count until a year before (which I'm sure is plenty) but I would like to have a general ballpark on the cost per person to present to the family in about six months (18 months prior to the trip, 6 months prior to when they have to commit or decline). At that time I would like to present them with ballpark prices on:

1 - 3, 4, and 6 day cruises for

2 - two different dates (1st weekend in August 2013 or Thanksgiving weekend 2013)

Would a TA be willing to help that far in advance with that many options on a trip I am not 100% certain will happen (closer to 85%)? I feel like the TA shouldn't be called into play until I know the date and number of people attending but if I'm wrong about that please correct me :)

I am willing to ballpark it myself but am having trouble finding places online that will quote me prices on more than one room at a time... I would like to ballpark it with some kind of group discounts figured in. Maybe I'll have to start calling cruise lines and speaking directly with their reps?

Trip August 9th, 2011 09:07 AM

I understand chomping at the bit, to get the ball rolling, as I would be the same way, but, this far out, it's just hard to get the correct pricing...what you might do is just give them next years pricing.

Also, realize the dates you chose will not be inexpensive.The height of summer, with tons of kids,and the holiday, a popular time for families, so really, no deals. If people are coming from far afield as well, including flying in..the longer cruise perhaps, will be better received.

Call, a ta and explain your circumstance...ask, based on next years prices, could they give you a ballpark price for your best estimation of cabins..every 8, is a free berth, so the more that book, the savings can be split amongst all of you.

LisaK August 9th, 2011 11:02 AM

i totally agree with the others, get yourself to a travel agent, more importantly a cruise specialist, at this point to get a rapport going, get information, just so you know the shorter the cruise the harder the party crowed will be on board, and your group has families & kids, 5 day at least 7 day would be much better. A skilled travel agent will be able to get you discounts, now this could be a sticking point, who would get the discounted and free berths that will come with booking that large a group? would your family let you have it because you are doing all the planning or would they want to split the savings amongst the entire group? same thing goes for onboard credits and perks that your TA would be able to get. When dealing with large groups of friends, relatives cruising together we have found that the best way to present it is to have the ship, itinineary, cabin information and a couple of date options- and tell them is what the plan is, do you want to join us. If you leave too many options open you will never get a total agreement and you will be going round and round back and forth trying to please everyone.

Trip August 10th, 2011 08:41 AM

The free berth savings can be dispersed among all the group.

Donna August 10th, 2011 09:35 AM

Isn't it also true, if booking direct, you will not be able to take advantage of booking a group and getting a free birth?

LisaK August 10th, 2011 10:47 AM

Donna, i believe that if you book a group direct from the cruise line - in order to get the free berth you must be designated as the "tour leader" and any and all questions or querys must go thru you, so that would mean that the discounts could not be spread amongst the group

Trip August 10th, 2011 10:50 AM

Another good reason to always book with a cruise specialist travel agency.

Donna August 10th, 2011 11:11 AM

Thanks Lisa,
That is just what I thought, again, you really need to book through a cruise travel agent for doing a group for sure.

LisaK August 11th, 2011 10:35 AM

you are welcome Donna. Having a TA handle a group is the way to go. If nothing else it will save your sanity and keep family harmony if you know what i mean lol

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