Something for Everyone: Why Cruises Fulfill That Travel Itch

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Everyone's idea of a good time is different. It's a wonderful and beautiful fact, but it also makes planning family or group vacations a struggle. So how do you provide the luxury and relaxation some people want with the rugged adventure others crave? Worry no longer.

You may have been daunted by cruises in the past, but they are actually quite budget-friendly, even when large groups are involved. So, whether you're the family planner, the go-getter in your friend group or the point person for a business getaway, here's everything you need to know when you plan your first group cruise.

Know That Diplomacy Comes First 

So, you're organized and logistical, and people are typically agreeable with and follow you when you make a plan. In other words, you're likely conscientious of others' desires. That's no doubt beneficial, especially when you're about to plan a group cruise for a number of people. Thus, when planning one, employ this part of you more fully.

Say your group is between 10 and 20 people. That's certainly a lot of people, all with their own interests, hopes and desires for this trip. Begin your plan with some simple questions for the group. Do they want tropical beaches, desolate beauty, or sophisticated and authentic dining experiences? Gauge the interest level of port of call excursions and then propose different ideas for cruises with your group's desires in mind.

Shop Around 

Don't simply pick the first cruise that fulfills your group's needs. Instead, do some research. Many cruise lines offer group rates that are considerably less (per person) than individual tickets. Say your plan is to voyage to Alaska. Websites like CruiseCritic and SeaHub, for example, will let you compare specific Alaskan cruise prices.

But let's face it — not all Alaska cruises are the same, and whether your group seeks towering, snow-capped peaks or experiencing the local culture at different ports of call, you'll want to find the best deal.

Book Your Own Excursions 

While all cruise lines offer their own port of call excursions, it's far less expensive if you organize them yourself. With that in mind, make a list of the excursions your group wants to experience. Then, address each group member's varying interests, as well as any age-specific activities. While the kids may be content at the playground and pools, on board the cruise they will likely want a more culturally authentic experience.

Sure, wine tasting and bar hopping on the coast of Tuscany sounds fantastic for some, while a guided hike and oral history lesson may be of more interest to the athletically inclined. Reach out to any guides, research events such as concerts or cultural festivals, and book tickets on your own.

Budget for Your Getaway 

None of this is possible without a concerted effort by you — and everyone in your group — to save and budget for the impending cruise. Vacations like this cost money, so you'll all need to put your heads together to determine affordability. Luckily, there are a host of free web tools that make this easier.

For example, apps like Mint let you set budgets for daily living and then apportion a set amount toward savings goals such as travel. Easily set a minimum monthly savings amount and allocate it to your cruise fund. Another option is Buxfer, which lets you create spending limits on a per weekly, monthly or annual basis.

Be the Leader 

No matter how you and those in your group budget for a vacation, it's best to start as early as possible. After determining how much everyone plans to spend, start collecting ideas and inspiration and then find a cruise that matches everyone's wants and desires.

As the old saying goes: The early bird catches the worm — and this is true for booking cruise packages as well, so browse early and often for the best prices. Lastly, make sure you plan your own port excursions. You can even let people plan their own, which lessens the load on your already heavy shoulders.

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