Welcome Back to our Friday Blog Series: Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s, where our favorite Travel Planning Aficionado shares her wealth of knowledge and experiences about traveling the world! After every trip to a new destination, Jamie gives us her perspective as both a traveler, and a travel advisor, through a quick but comprehensive list of what to do or not do at each vacation location!
As many of you who follow along on Social Media know, Jamie and her family went on a Cruise over the holidays (and Jamie’s birthday!), and had a fantastic time! Before we get into Jamie’s “Do”s and “Don’t”s of Group Cruising, here is a snippet of why Jamie chose a cruise for her family, and a bit about their experience, in her own words:
This Christmas, my husband’s whole family gathered in Orlando to hop on board The Royal Caribbean Ship, Independence of the Seas. Our family tradition, since the beginning of time, has been to gather together every other year for Christmas; most years, we’ve all gone to Denver, where my in-laws live, but since Jeremy and I moved to Orlando in 2015, we’ve hosted as well.
Over the years, our family has grown, as families tend to do, and we are now 18 members strong, ranging in age from two to 76. Because we barely fit in one house all together anymore, we decided that one space, filled with mass chaos, noise, temper tantrums, and hurt feelings (typical family gathering, am I right? And these are all people I like!), just wouldn’t cut it anymore. So for 2022, we did it differently: we booked a Group Cruise!
I have to say that this year was the BEST Christmas gathering we’ve ever had, and it was absolutely because we chose to take a Cruise together. The teen cousins basically ran the ship (or felt like they did, as teens tend to do), taking in all the activities and bonding instead of fighting; and the adults actually got to enjoy themselves (instead of playing living-room referee), indulging in relaxation, their chosen drink package, and even some gambling. Personally, I enjoyed a book and the pool deck (and couldn’t have been happier).
Sounds like Jamie and her family won the Holidays this year with their Group Cruise experience! Whether you want to spend part of the Holidays on a cruise with your family, or any other time of year for a family reunion, or if you want to travel with a group of friends or coworkers but don’t know where to start, Group Cruising is the way to go! And as always, your favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor is ready and waiting to make it all happen for you!
So Let’s Gather Family and Friends Together and Sail Away! But First…
Table of Contents
Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s for Group Cruising
Top Favorites and Jamie’s “Must-Do” Experiences
Consider a Cruise for Large Group Travel
Cruises are one of the best options for Group Travel because they provide spaces to be together, as well as separate spaces for everyone to retreat back to, which is key to enjoying long periods of time as a large group. Group Cruises work for family gatherings, friend groups, girls trips, bachelor/bachelorette parties, weddings, and even work conferences, too (if your boss said to you, “We’re going on a Group Cruise for Team Building and Boosting Morale,” would anyone actually say no? Probably not!)
And as is always the case with a cruise, large group or not, having a cabin to return to, in addition to a nearly infinite amount of activities just outside your door, often simplifies your travel experience, as opposed to bouncing from hotel to hotel on land (though many people love that too, with good reason as well). Plus, having a large group of people together on one ship does help with keeping track of each person and making sure no one gets lost.
Take Advantage of Spacious Areas Throughout the Ship
It’s generally safe to assume that most “hang out” areas on Cruise Ships are going to be larger than most (if not all) of our living rooms! So while you may not fit your whole family into one room without knocking over your Christmas Tree, you’ll definitely fit everyone around the pools, by the bars, and in the game rooms and activity spaces (comfortably and with room to spare) on a Cruise Ship.
Not only that, but you can even host an event, whether it’s a Holiday Cocktail Party for your family, or a work conference, or even a wedding, in a private space suited to your party and preferences! Cruise Ships have excellent options for any kind of event, and your Love of the Magic Travel Advisor can set it all up for you through our contacts aboard the ship! Talk about simplifying the Holiday chaos!
Have Dinner Together Each Night
Sitting down to dinner together every night is a great way to ensure that everyone feels connected throughout the trip. And if you’re cruising over the Holidays, sharing a meal each night helps preserve that warm fuzzy feeling of a traditional family dinner (without the stress of cooking and serving it yourself!). Dining options on cruises can be tricky sometimes, but your LOTMV Travel Advisor can coordinate your dinner plans so that everyone is seated together, or at least in close proximity to each other (depending on the size of your group) each night.
Top Tips that Jamie Learned Along the Way
Designate a Group Coordinator
While your Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor will of course take care of all the planning and booking for you and your whole group, it’s still recommended to have one point person among your group. Having a main go-to person coordinating for your group will help eliminate any confusion and streamline the whole process. Just make sure your chosen group coordinator knows how to get in touch with your LOTMV Travel Advisor for any questions throughout the cruise!
Ask About Perks for Groups
Before you even board the ship, you may be able to reap the benefits of Group Cruising with discounted rates on cabins or lower rates for children, depending on the cruise line, the number of people in your group and the number of cabins you’ll be utilizing. In addition, your group may qualify for extra onboard amenities, such as onboard credits, special drink package rates, and other benefits that are only offered to guests who are part of a group. As always, your LOTMV Travel Advisor will know what is available for your group and how to get it!
Be Open to Sailing Out of Different Ports
Although you may assume that the port closest to you is your best option, considering other ports may actually offer a better experience, and possibly even a better price, too. Plus, if you’re traveling with a large group, chances are that people will be coming from a number of different places anyway, so it’s worth looking into a larger cruise port that offers a bigger variety of cruise lines, cruise ships, itineraries and destinations. Taking a cruise from a larger cruise port can also offer better prices, so even if you have to fly to the ship, you still may end up paying less than you would for a ship that leaves from your home port. Your LOTMV Travel Advisor can help you figure out your best port options based on your group’s cruise preferences.
Top “Must-Don’t”s, or Things Jamie Would Do Differently
Don’t Wait to Book for a Group
It’s pretty much common sense that ensuring there is enough space for your whole group requires you to book early, so that enough cabins are still available for everyone. Planning with large groups is not the time to wait for last minute deals, and cabin rates tend to increase as space fills up, not the other way around. This is especially true if you are planning to cruise during peak seasons, such as the summer or the Holidays. Contact your LOTMV Travel Advisor as soon as you decide that Group Cruising is for you to make sure you get the experience you want!
Don’t Force Everyone Into the Same Activities/Excursions
As mentioned in the very first “Must-Do,” Group Travel works best when there are opportunities for group members to be together AND apart sometimes. Just because a group of people are traveling together, doesn’t mean they need (or should) spend every minute of the trip with each other. This is part of the reason why Holidays crammed into one family member’s house can lead to chaos; everyone constantly together without a break from each other inevitably leads to tension at best, and Four Christamases-style fights at worst.
The beauty of a cruise is that everyone can be together on one ship, with the flexibility to choose as many or as few activities and excursions together as each person can handle. As long as everyone communicates their plans and remains inclusive about who joins (and doesn’t take personally who doesn’t), everyone should wind up doing what makes them happy!
Don’t Forgo a Cruise Because of Age Differences
And speaking of everyone being happy, the best thing about cruises is that they truly offer something for everyone. So if your family ranges in age from babies to great-grandparents, don’t worry, there will for sure be an option to suit everyone.
From kids’ clubs to adults-only spaces, there is an innumerable amount of activities on cruises, so everyone from the all-day lounger to the adventure and thrill-seeker will find something to love. Cruises are actually the PERFECT option for Multi-generational Vacations because of the range of activities and services they offer.
Don’t Assume Booking Online is as Easy as a Few Clicks
By this point, you’ve probably noticed that almost every tip includes consulting with your Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Agent for help, from making sure family members are in cabins close to each other, to reserving private event spaces, to making sure your group gets any perks available, to streamlining the entire Group Booking process, having your LOTMV TA in your corner is the way to go.
Unlike many companies within the Travel Industry want you to believe, booking online with “just a few clicks,” is never as simple as they make it out to be. For any type of travel, it’s always best to book with a professional in the field, but especially for cruises (and group cruises even more), there are a myriad of intricacies to getting everything just right, and having a Travel Advisor to plan and book for you makes the whole process go smoothly and with way less stress for everyone in your group! As always, your favorite Love of the Magic Travel Advisor is ready to guide you through the cruising process!
And…that’s a wrap of Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s for Group Cruising!
Ready to Plan?
Now that you have all of Jamie’s best advice for Group Cruising, are you ready to grab all your favorite people and hop aboard a ship together? Contact your favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor or email hello@LOTMV.com to start planning today!
And don’t forget: there are already TWO Group Cruises with DISNEY Themes that are already professionally planned out (by none other than Jamie herself), and that you can sign up for today! We at Love of the Magic Vacations are so proud and excited to partner with Shannon from BRB Going to Disney and Disneyland Daily Casey to offer you The Perfect Themed Group Cruise with all your fellow Disney Enthusiasts and Fabulous Followers of Shannon, Casey, and Jamie. Your favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor can get you a spot on whichever trip you prefer (either out of Florida or California) with these Incredible Instagramming Ladies and more of their Fabulous Followers!
Just like last year, in 2023, a new list of “Do”s and “Don’t”s will come out the Friday after Jamie returns from her latest trip! And you can find links to all of Jamie’s 2022 Travel Tips at this Blog: Jamie’s 2022 Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: A Recap.
And don’t forget to check out our Inspiring Itineraries as well, featuring a Perfect Plan for your next vacation, and highlighting a new destination each month! You can find links to all of 2022’s Inspiring Itineraries in this Blog: A Year of Inspired Travel: 2022’s Inspiring Itineraries, Month by Month.