Cruise lines have long been known for offering great vacation deals and hassle-free travel. Now they are emerging as event planners as well. Many cruise lines are extremely eager to accommodate large and small groups of travelers. If you are in the throes of planning a wedding, an anniversary shindig, a family reunion or even a multi-day business meeting, talk to a cruise line. You may find they can create an unforgettable program for your affair for the same cost of a land-based event.
Special interest groups, which cruise lines often call affinity groups, are those groups that want to cruise for a special occasion. Family reunions, business meetings, even weddings are typical affinity cruise groups.
Being an affinity group can be easy, and many cruise lines are going out of their way to cater to the group cruise. The word “group” does not necessarily mean you need a hundred people to qualify. Even a few people who want to travel together can qualify as a group. For instance, cruises where several female friends travel together are a recognized (and new) affinity group in the industry.
Depending on the cruise and the size of the group, cruise lines may be willing to offer a package deal on staterooms. A cruise line specialist or travel agent can make recommendations, including booking a suite for four people instead of the usual state rooms (this is not always cheaper, but it can be).
Cruise groups can also make arrangements with the cruise ship for special events. On-board weddings, classes, seminars, receptions, and private dinners for a group of old buddies can all be set up. The best way to make these arrangements is to book as early as you can and discuss options with the cruise line. It is a great idea to be flexible, since cruise lines are much more experienced in this area than you are likely to be. Thus, they may know some great ideas you had not thought of and may offer good advice as to what would work well in your situation.
Princess Cruise Lines even has a specialist who works for them to help with on-board weddings. And it is true, the captain of a ship has legal authority to marry people. Re-commitment ceremonies, in which a husband and wife formally renews their vows, are very popular cruise events.
If you are an avid cruiser, you have probably already cruised with some special interest groups and never known it. Most ships are large enough that multiple special events, seminars, and receptions can take place almost unnoticed by the majority of passengers.
Planning an affinity group cruise involves booking a cruise as early as possible. Consulting with a travel expert is always a good idea since there are lots of cruise options today and even the most avid cruise shopper cannot keep up with everything.
Affinity group cruises should be fairly short since getting time off from work and school is tough for most people. Plan ahead, not just so you can get the rooms you want, but to allow people to put in for time away from the job. Keep an eye on the pocketbook of the participants; some folks 香港集運 who would gladly attend a family reunion may not have the financial clout to pay for a transatlantic cruise.
When booking an affinity group cruise, consider the port of embarkation and debarkation, that is, the place where you get on and off the ship. Cruise passengers not only have to pay for their cruise, they also have to pay for travel back and forth from this port. While many cruise lines can offer attractive package deals to combine cruise fares with airline tickets, there is still an incremental expense.
There are a surprising number of ports for cruise ships today, including Tampa and Galveston (on the Gulf of Mexico), Los Angeles and Vancouver (West Coast), and New York and Fort Lauderdale (East Coast). The ports may limit the cruise options for your particular group (for instance, you can’t sail from Vancouver and go to Bermuda on any established route). However, for an affinity group cruise, the journey is more important than the destination.