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9 Things I Wished I Knew When Planning a Large Family Cruise

Are you planning a large family cruise? Cruising is a relaxing way to travel especially if you have family members ranging from toddlers to grandparents! It’s a great way for everyone to do their own thing and then meet up again for dinner as a family. Below are handy tips for planning a large family cruise. 

Tips for Planning a Large Family Cruise

1. Book Adjacent Cabins

It’s more convenient if your staterooms are next to each other. Most cruise ships don’t have adjoining rooms, but you can easily make your own adjoining cabins by booking two adjacent balcony cabins. Your cabin steward can open the divider between your balconies so that you can easily go from one cabin to another via the balcony without having to leave the stateroom. This way, you can enjoy the privacy of your own cabin while still being close to your family members.

Check out: 16 Cruise Ship Embarkation Hack (How to Board the Ship Faster)

2. Optimize Sleeping Arrangements

Traveling with a big group means you can optimize sleeping arrangements. For example, instead of having four people in a room, which can get very crowded, you can split your group up so that it’s three people in a room. This way, everyone gets more space and fewer people have to share a bathroom. You could also consider having a grandchild stay with grandma and grandpa. This will not only make the sleeping arrangements more comfortable but also provide an opportunity for bonding. 

Tips for Planning a Large Family Cruise

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3. Pre-Book a Van Pre/Post Cruise Transfer

You need to plan ahead for pre and post cruise transfers. It’s not a good idea to just wing it and get a taxi or an uber to/from the cruise ship. 

It’s sometimes hard to get enough transportation for your group. By pre booking a van, you can ensure that you have enough space for your group and avoid the hassle of waiting for taxis or Ubers. You can book a large van transfer through travel agencies or directly with the cruise line. I like to book port transfers through viator

4. Book Your Table at the Main Dining Room

Instead of going to dinner as a walk-in, since you are traveling in a big group, you should reserve your table in the main dining room. That way, you can all dine together and you don’t have to wait in line. It’s hard to get a table for a big group if you don’t reserve ahead of time. By reserving your table, you can ensure that your family can enjoy meals together without any hassle.

Check out: 12 Things You Should Never Do at a Cruise Buffet

5. Use a Travel Agent

If you’re booking multiple cabins, it’s easier to use a travel agent to help you find adjacent cabins. Travel agents can also give your group perks such as onboard credits and free champagne or wine. 

Check out: 18 Worst Things that Can Ruin Your Cruise

6. Book Private Tours for Your Group

One of the nice things about traveling in a big group is that you can book your private tour. You’ll have enough people in your group that it’s worth getting your own private tour. 

Private tours offer a more personalized experience and allow you to explore the destinations at your own pace. You can choose the sights you want to see and the activities you want to do, without having to worry about accommodating other travelers. I get nervous booking with local tour companies so I typically book tours with viator

7. Get the Photo Package

It’s a great value to get the photo package if you are traveling with a large group. To save money, you don’t have to get the photo package for everyone in your group. Just get it for one cabin then when it comes to taking pictures, just have everyone in your group come in the photo. The group photos are part of the photo package as long as the subscriber of the package is in the picture. 

Tips for Planning a Large Family Cruise

Do know that some cruise lines will restrict who can be included in the photo package. You should check with cruise lines since they all have varying photo packages. Some cruise lines also offer studio packages, where you pay a fee to get 30 minutes of studio time and photos, that’s also another good option for big groups. 

Check out: 11 Anti-Theft Cruise Tips that Every Cruiser Needs to Know

8. Get the Beverage Package

Another thing that you can do when you are traveling as a group is to get the beverage package. One way to save money is don’t get the beverage package for everyone in your group. Just get it for one cabin. Typically, beverage packages will also include discounts on bottles of wine. 

For example, Princess Cruise Plus & Premier Packages gives you a 25% discount on bottles of wine, have the person who is subscribing to the beverage package order the wine and you can all have a glass of wine at dinner. 

Of course, if your group is big, this strategy is not going to work since the cruise will limit how many bottles of wine you can order at a time. Do know that not all cruise lines offer discounts on bottles of wine in their beverage package. 

Looking to save money on your cruise? 21 Smart and Easy Ways to Save Money on a Cruise

9. Have Matching T-Shirts

You can order custom matching t-shirts for your group. Especially if you are planning a reunion cruise, it will be fun to commemorate the reunion!  Just don’t wear it at the ports, your group will become a target for thieves and pick pocketers! Learn more about my anti-theft tips for cruisers.

Check out: 10 Ways to Score Free Champagne at a Cruise (How to Get Free Drinks!)

Check out these cruise packing lists with free printables

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Caribbean cruise packing list

Mediterranean cruise packing list

Mexico cruise packing list

Bermuda Cruise Packing List

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How to Pack Light: 11 Things You Don’t Need to Bring

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