I am getting another group of around 15 people together for our third trip in the Caribbean and we are looking at the ten day Eastern Caribbean for 2004 on the Sun Princess. One thing that our group really liked to do was meet just before dinner to talk about the days activities in leu of the fact that we couldn't all sit together at dinner. My husband and I were tossing around the idea of splurging for a mini-suite so that our group could have a meeting point or spot to sit privately on the balcony, but we aren't sure if the additional cost for the room vs an outside cabin or balcony cabin would be worth it? We've sailed on the Dawn, but we were in a inside cabin. What is everyone's thoughts on the cost/size? Is there a difference in balcony size with the balcony rooms vs the mini-suites as well. How private are they??
The balcony will be bigger in a mini-suite. On the Sun class ships, the mini-suites are beautiful. We had a Cat AA suite on the Dawn Princess one time and friends had a Cat AB mini-suite next to us (aft). I have seen in the Cat AC and like them much better than the aft AB. If I go for an aft suite on that class ship, I'd go for a Cat AA, they are outstanding.
We had a mini-suite on the Royal and have booked one for the Star in September. We really enjoy the extra room. We have a deluxe balcony room (not mini-suite) on the Brilliance for the holidays, but our cabin has an extra-huge balcony (AFT) and also a sofa and small sitting area, which a lot of regular cabins don't have. It is definitely worth it to have at least a balcony cabin in our opinion, and we really enjoyed the mini-suite because it was a 12 night cruise and that seemed like too long for just a regular cabin. Find out the square footage on sites like Uniglobe.com, MyTravel.com and Staterooms.com. You can often tell a lot more by comparing the square footage. Your TA should also have those dimensions for you. Hope this helped.
If you want a gathering spot for fifteen or so, you probably will want the added space of a full suite. The sitting area or the balcony of a minisuite will accomodate perhaps four or five people comfortably.
The other option would be to gather in one of the ship's lounges. Aboard MV Sun Princess, the options include the Wheelhouse Bar, the atrium lobby, and Rendez-Vous (the champagne and caviar bar).
We met a group we had been corresponding with on the cruise boards in the Wheelhouse Bar on the Grand in April, and it is very conducive to small group gatherings. There are separate little "coves" of seating that are kind of exclusive to your group, with sofas and chairs, and more chairs can be brought from other groupings if necessary.
I am wondering why, if you guys sailed as a group, you weren't able to be seated together at dinner. Was it that you all wanted different seating times? Or did you all book independantly of each other? I am asking because I am a travel agent and when we have a group booking, the group always gets to sit together at dinner. Would it be possible for you to all book through the same travel agent? If so, you will be pleasantly surprised at the nice extras they can offer you. Including the chance to earn free space, onboard credits, a group cocktail party, etc. Also, you can prearrange with the cruise line to use meeting space, if needed. And don't forget that some of the public rooms, like the library, are hardly used at all, so you could take advantage of that. Of course, having a suite would be an awesome experience and, yes, they are definitely worth the price! If you want to know more about sailing as a group just email me.
Thanks so much for the information! Yes, actually my Aunt, who owns a tour company in Yakima, Washington, puts our groups "together". She has a good relationship with Princess and thats whom she pushes us to use. She reserves a block of rooms for us, but its never enough for that free space. As far as the tables are concerned, she said that the most that she could fit at one table was eight and we had 12 in our group last time. The time before it was only seven, and we did get to sit together and that was so nice! I tried to get people to mix up their partners with the two tables right next to each other, but its amazing how dependant on their spouses certain couples are?
I used to be a travel agent at one time (money kept me from making it a career), so I really do love organizing these trips. A really great mix of friends, from far away as Brazil, Spain and England.
On the second trip, since we didn't have one table, we would meet together in one of the rooms, all crammed into an outside cabin (we did end up getting upgraded to a window/obstructed view), and chat and share some wine before dinner. I thought that this time, my husband and I could at least get a balcony room so that we could have a bit more room to meet? We shall have to see how much we can save, because the mini-suites are really $$$....Another cruisemate e-mailed me that the balcony rooms on the aft side actually had bigger balconys than the mini-suites did??? So I will continue to investigate...