In 2001, the Travel Industry Association reported that 1 in 5 vacations spanned three generations and that a third of all summer trips involved a family reunion. Whether it’s for a full week or just a weekend, the best family reunion vacation deals can be found on a cruise ship, where all activities, meals and child care is included in the cabin price. “The best part was that nobody had to cook, do dishes or plan anything. We could just focus on being together,” Jane Austin told the Eugene Register-Guard newspaper following her family’s reunion cruise. Another cruiser, Carl Weinburg, reported: “One of the worst parts about living so far apart is that when we get together, it’s a big event with all the emotional risks of a big event. The cruise made it easy to have casual, everyday interactions, which were much more rewarding.”
If it’s your first time planning a family reunion cruise, then you might feel a little nervous that someone in the family will have a problem with your plan or you may worry that a cruise may fall beyond time and money budgeting for some family members. To stay flexible, try planning your family reunion vacation 18 months in advance or opting for a shorter 3-4 day cruise instead of the full week. Another good idea for including families with kids is to make arrangements over the Christmas holidays when everyone is out of school. Many families also like spending their holidays on a cruise ship because it cuts down on the hassle of cooking, cleaning, bouncing to several different homes and driving in poor weather conditions.
To get started planning your next family reunion, one person should be elected as the family reunion planner. While this person will suffer most of the stress in planning the details, there are also generous rewards for the plan initiator (like a free cabin aboard the cruise line, for example!) First, the planner must find the preferred mode of communication. (For instance, a young hipster might be a whiz with email, but an older family member may prefer the phone.) Once that’s sorted out, the planner can then work to find a commonly convenient date and secure a head count. Next, the planner can look at family reunion vacation destinations and negotiate with a travel agent for the best deals.
When choosing a cruise line for your next family reunion, try to find a ship line that specializes in family reunion vacations. For instance, Royal Caribbean offers VIP room amenities, rock wall climbing sessions, on-board family scavenger hunts, a reunion trivia challenge, door decorations and personalized cakes. Disney Cruise Line’s family package includes personalized t-shirts and commemorative certificates. Carnival offers complimentary champagne and chocolates or private cocktail parties for groups of 8 or more. Holland America’s family reunion program (for five or more rooms) gives guests a family photo, a 20-punch beverage card and one of the following: a choice of dinner in the Pinnacle Grill, free snorkel rental, free swim mat rental, or free banana boat rides on Half Moon Cay. For families booking ten or more rooms, the family patriarch gets an upgrade from a stateroom to a veranda.
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