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Not my first time cruising, but first time as a large group. 

Does anyone have any tips or tricks, traveling with 12 adults and 5 children (age 6-10). Doing a 7 day Royal Caribbean cruise out of Miami. 

We have magnetic white boards on our lists. 

Any info would be great.

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My one big tip for group sailings is not to expect everyone to eat all at once for every meal each day or to do all activities together.    Many people find that to be too structured but are hesitant to voice their opinion on it. 

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Posted (edited)

We frequently travel as a group while cruising, but not with children. I am the organizer, so my best advice is to RELAX.

 

 Have one or two people in-charge of medical supplies - Everyone does not need to bring the entire medicine cabinet.

 

Bring prepackaged snacks from home for excursions.

 

Try to do a variety of things together, but not everything.

 

Make sure everyone has a "time piece" that is on the correct ship's time, especially when leaving the ship, and that they know when to get back on the ship. - Phones are not always the best "time pieces"

 

OOPS...

Edited by neverbeenhere
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1 hour ago, ColeThornton said:

My one big tip for group sailings is not to expect everyone to eat all at once for every meal each day or to do all activities together.    Many people find that to be too structured but are hesitant to voice their opinion on it. 

Or, on the other hand, I've read of family groups who say they set their own schedules all day, but the one time they commit to being together is dinner, at a set time.

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11 minutes ago, shipgeeks said:

Or, on the other hand, I've read of family groups who say they set their own schedules all day, but the one time they commit to being together is dinner, at a set time.

 

That would work just fine.   Whatever makes everyone happy.   In my experience there usually seems to be that one person who wants to be the "group leader" and occasionally risks being the target of a man overboard drill.  🙂

 

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We don't expect everyone to spend all there time together, but if you were looking for someone how would you ever find any of them?

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I've watched enough judge shows on tv to suggest that everyone pay directly to the cruise line (or travel agent).  Don't front the money for sister or brother and expect them to pay you back when you want it.  They may do it, but if they don't ???  

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1 hour ago, Snipley said:

We don't expect everyone to spend all there time together, but if you were looking for someone how would you ever find any of them?

We did a 7 adult, 2 child cruise on Carnival about two years ago. We used their on-board app to keep track of everyone. We planned on dinner together every night but days were pretty much on our own. 

 

I usually like to lock my phone away at the beginning of a cruise but for this one, the phone plus app was very handy.

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I would recommend booking thru a TA so your "leader" doesn't have to handle the headache of orchestrating deposits, final payments, cabin changes, etc..  The TA may be able to get you some perks depending on the # of cabins you book.

 

@mammajamma2013beat me to it, but I was also going to suggest the cruise line's app, assuming they have one.  What line are you considering?

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I approach everything from a flying standpoint since I seem to live on planes, so here ya go - don't feel like you have to fly together. Let everyone take the flights they want, it'll put a lot less pressure on any one person. Then they can choose the times, prices, airlines, and routes that work best for them. 

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40 minutes ago, Roz said:

I would recommend booking thru a TA so your "leader" doesn't have to handle the headache of orchestrating deposits, final payments, cabin changes, etc..  The TA may be able to get you some perks depending on the # of cabins you book.

 

@mammajamma2013beat me to it, but I was also going to suggest the cruise line's app, assuming they have one.  What line are you considering?

We are cruising with Royal Caribbean, can we use the app to keep track of each other  without having the WIFI package? We have all booked on our own.

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I was able to use the apps on Carnival and HAL without Wifi, so I assume Royal Caribbean works the same way.  Someone with firsthand knowledge may be able to confirm this. 

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We have been on a lot of family/friends group cruises, with group sizes of 20+ not uncommon.  Last cruise we took before the shut down was I think 23 total.  This particular group cruise included family and friends from three different countries.  Typically everyone gets together for dinner and evening entertainment (other than the younger set who might prefer a younger entertainment venue).  Daytime activities are not mandatory in any way.   Excursions are pre-planned.  Group dynamics usually result in most going on the same excursion.   But it is not unusual for some to stay on board and others might split off to other excursions because they have been there/done that.  It is not so difficult as it may seem to stay in touch with everyone.  The ship isn't that big.  Enjoy.   

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  • 2 weeks later...

You will never get everyone to do the same thing all day every day. Plan things that you and your family would enjoy and let other people know that they are welcome to join or do their own thing. Send out a group email. "John and I signed up for the cooking class excursion in Cozumel. You can book online at XYZ website. Otherwise here are things A, B, & C that you could do as well." 

 

Same thing with pre/post cruise hotels. "I have reserved a room at the Hilton Miami for $149 a night and plan on taking a taxi to the port. Other great hotels near the port are: budget hotel X, moderate hotel Y and luxury hotel Z. If anyone lands early enough we plan on having a drink at Bar B at 7pm and would love to catch up, otherwise we will see you at the port. We plan on arriving at the port by 11am." " 

It is not your responsibility to book and arrange everything for everyone. Send out suggestions but leave it up to people to be adults and book their own hotels, excursions, flights, etc. Send folks who have never cruised a list of things that they may not realize to pack, etc. I would plan one or two big group events for the trip whether it is dinner or drinks or an excursion but you don't need to travel in a pack.

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6 hours ago, donaldsc said:

Any group of more than 4 or 6 people will be like herding cats and will be about as successful.

 

DON

 

I'm sorry DonaldSC ,but I could not disagree more.  A large part of our cruise experience has been with groups far larger than 6 people.  Family and friends.  I can honestly say we have never experienced anything approaching that kind of issue.   And I would also say that the group cruses have been very enjoyable.     Do folks sometimes show up late?  Sure.  But not a big deal.

 

I would say issues can happen if an attempt is made to force people to do something they don't want to do.  But that shouldn't happen anyway.   And of course, a lot will depend on how tight the group is.   

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Posted (edited)

Cruise ships are perfect for groups, you can do as much or as little together as you want to. Just go with the flow and don't try and plan everything out, it's much like Vegas, you go with all these plans and you're lucky if you do a handful of the things on the list because being structured, rigid, and keeping a strict itinerary isn't fun and relaxing. Don't be that annoying super planner guy/gal and don't let one of those annoying guys/gals pressure you into locking into some rigid checklist/schedule. It's much more relaxing to just do stuff on the fly and allow everyone their own pace and participation comfort levels rather than expecting/having participation requirements/expectations. Plan as little as possible (only the top priorities) and the rest will work itself out organically. Oh and make sure everyone has their own credit card under their sign and sail if you end up booking cabins for others! That will save you a headache also! Have a great trip!     

Edited by cruisingguy007
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I should also add, make sure that the kids are able to attend the kids club on the first day. It helps them get familiar and make friends with the other kids. It takes a little bit for everyone to start mingling and getting to know each other and the first day is where a lot of that happens. Also makes the kids feel comfortable and like they have their own thing going on that is special for them. My older son still keeps in touch with two kids he met from past cruises.   

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Although not on a cruise, I traveled with a group once on vacation. Day 1 and Day 2 became work. The belief from the group was everyone had to be together the whole time and argue on what to do. After Day 2 it was "do what you want and we meet up at X:XX for lunch/dinner". The rest of the vacation turned to vacation at that point. People vacation so much differently.

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Posted (edited)

Consider NOT being the organizer for every day/activity.

 

My sister and I are both leader/organizers, and sometimes butt heads - especially when her flighty daughter never seemed to be ready on time.  We found that alternating days 'in charge' satisfied us both.  While we strove for everyone-likes-this activities, the captain-of-the-day ultimately selected the activity, chose the vendor/tour, bought the tickets, and tipped the driver. 

 

For your larger group, ask if anyone wants a day (or assign a day), and have that person do the research and make the plans for a particular port of call.

 

Google Docs is a great way to organize the planning -- use an excel sheet for each day that lets individuals or families 'sign up' for excursions and keep track of payments/tickets.  For example, Rome In Limo vans seat 8.  You might book your family of 4, and then post the reservation number.  Other families can reference that number to be added to your van, and pay their reservation directly to the vendor online.

 

This worked great on our first big/international cruise.  A fellow CC'er (ScubaMike?) set up the worksheet and posted the link in the Roll Call.  About 20 more of us mixed-and-matched our way through adventures on different days, saving us all money and spreading out the stress. 

 

Oh, and because so many families were posting options, there were typically 2 or 3 choices each day, and nobody cared who did what.  Cinque Terre or Florence/Pisa?   Museums or Shopping?  Gourmet or Street-Meat?

 

Edited by Sue Do-Over
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