You may have been wondering where to start when planning your next group travel adventure. You're not alone! Group trips can be daunting and confusing, especially if you've never done one before, or have no experience with organizing groups.
The person in charge of organizing your group should be well-prepared. The first step is to decide on where you want to visit, how many days there will be for shopping and sightseeing (or just relaxing), and important details like passports needed by all members. This includes making sure everyone has up-to-date information about which vaccinations are recommended depending upon where you go!
Think about the budget before booking anything! You don't want your expensive trip or holiday ruined because you didn’t know that some parts were going to be too priced-out for everyone in your group, so set an appropriate price point which will allow all travel participants access without feeling like they're missing out on anything.
The best way to travel safely is with insurance. Group organizers and initiators of any size should take responsibility for ensuring their groups are protected from potential accidents or mishaps during the journey - this includes school field trips.
Over the last couple of decades, as Executive Director of Nautical Options, I have arranged a wide variety of events on cruise ships. Many participants have experienced the wonders of cruising for the first time when we organized their friends and family reunion at sea.
Often it had been held at a resort or some family members house. We helped them take it to sea. In almost every case the reunion, once taken to sea, remains at sea year after year. Reasons why this seems to be the case:
Ease of organization
Reunions typically depend upon one or two individuals who bear the burden of organizing and coordinating the schedules of widely dispersed family members. Even if the reunion is held at a resort, the coordination of air and ground transportation can be daunting at particular times of the year.
Then there is the issue of arranging menus, meeting rooms and having the resort accommodate the scheduling needs of the group. Cruise based events are comparatively simple to organize particularly if you employ one of the companies like Nautical Options.
Cost and Expenses
Two things quickly become apparent after you have decided to take a family reunion to sea. The first is how much less expensive the event is. If you go through an organization which specializes in such events and can access the best rates, the cost of a cruise based reunion will be somewhere between 60 and 70% of the cost of the same event on land.
The second thing you will notice is that a cruise based event is, by and large, a one line cost. By that I mean a single payment buys the cabin, all you can eat and unlimited, high quality food (watch out for the midnight chocolate buffet!) and all the distractions and entertainment that one could wish for. For the most part individual travelers will end up paying for their drinks, shore excursions, gambling losses and purchases in the many ports of call.
Cruise ships provide a wide range of on board activities. Every evening there is a Broadway-class show in the main lounge. In addition there are always musicians in the various smaller venues. Each day all sorts of organized activities are on offer. These range from dance classes and wine tastings to trivia games, art auctions, bingo, lectures on the next port of call and a myriad of others. In short, there is never a shortage of things for members of your group to do while onboard.
This is where a company which specializes in organizing crews based events can really shine. At Nautical Options we handle all the arrangements for the meeting rooms as well as the arrangements for catering, entertainment and special events. We have managed birthday parties complete with cakes, karaoke competitions, special lectures and a range of other activities.
Ports of call
A cruise ship is a resort hotel that changes location every night. Each morning you wake up in a different place than where you went to sleep. Some mornings you wake up to a day at sea and the wonderful experience of enjoying the ship. On others you wake up in a new port of call and to all the amazing options that are available.
Cruise lines organize a wide range of shore excursions in every port. All of the vendors are carefully screened and the shore excursions are carefully reviewed. In other words, you don't have to worry the cruise line has already done the worrying for you.
In each port your group will disperse some on shore excursions, some just heading for the beach and others looking for bargains that are always available in the shops. Dinner becomes a wonderful sharing of experiences and a chance to wear that new shirt or goofy hat you could not pass up.
In the cruising industry, a group is 16 or more passengers, based on 8 cabins. For every 15 fully paid fares, the sixteenth passenger travels FREE!