Choosing the Right Cruise Line is Key to Successful Multi-Generational Vacations
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, March 12 2014 @ 04:02 PM EDT
Cruise Holidays Reveals Top Tips for Organizing a Cruise for Families that Span Generations
Responding to the growing demand for multi-generational cruising, travel agents from Cruise Holidays International are sharing their top tips for planning such a cruise experience for extended families – the tips were gathered through the 2014 Cruise Trends survey.* The number one piece of advice is to select a cruise line that has something to delight and appeal to every family member of every age. Based on their expertise, Cruise Holidays travel agents routinely counsel their clients on the crucial nuances, not only among myriad cruise lines, but also among the specific ships within each individual fleet.
Cruise Holidays’ survey data indicates that multi-generational cruising presents some unique challenges for consumers unless they use a travel agent. “Assuming there is at least one grandparent traveling with one grandchild – and often times many more family members are traveling together – the cruise ship needs to provide wide-ranging activities, entertainment and resources for passengers who could be as much as eight or nine decades apart,” said Kevin Weisner, Senior Vice President, Cruise Holidays International. “Tapping into the experience of a cruise professional to understand what a young child wants and needs on a cruise – as well as what an 85-year old great grandmother needs – is paramount.”
Here are the Top Five Tips for multi-generational cruisers, according to Cruise Holidays International travel agents:
RANK TIP PERCENTAGE
1 Choose a cruise ship that has something for everyone 30.0%
2 Plan ahead 25.0%
3 Secure staterooms as close as possible 12.0%
4 Carefully plan dining options 5.0%
5 (tie) Aim for quality – the best your family can afford 3.8%
5 (tie) Communicate clearly with rest of family 3.8%
1. Choose a cruise ship that has something for everyone
Certain cruise lines have responded to the demand from multi-generational families by crafting experiences for all ages. On the right cruise ship, children and teens will be busy from morning until night with pools, water slides, complimentary kids clubs, character “meet and greets” with pop culture icons from the big and small screen, coloring and drawing contests, mini golf, and more. Plus, the cruise lines haven’t forgotten that parents need their space, too, with adults-only zones and quiet pool areas. “It’s important to note that even if the parents or grandparents have been loyal to one cruise line for their traditional ‘couples’ getaway, that cruise line may not be appropriate for the vast age differences presented by multi-generational travel. The proper, or improper, cruise line selection can make or break the vacation, which is why it’s important that consumers work with an expert from the very beginning,” said Weisner. “Several ships, which appeal to the entire family because of their wide variety of activities and entertainment options, are also fitted out with limited-access suite complexes; these provide the luxury, privacy and exclusivity that the seasoned cruisers in the family have come to expect. They are like a ‘ship-within-a-ship’ featuring private courtyards, pools, lounges, restaurants and even butlers.”
2. Plan ahead
There are several reasons agents made this recommendation – first and foremost to make sure that everyone in the family saves the dates on their calendars. Timing is also of utmost importance to ensure the group receives its top choice in staterooms, especially if they desire adjoining staterooms or a family suite, since these are generally the first to sell out on a cruise. Suites can include bathtubs for the little ones, privacy dividers, multiple bedrooms and other special features to make traveling as a group more enjoyable and convenient. Cruise Holidays agents keep a close eye on when new itineraries become available, and often secure their clients’ places on those cruises as soon as they are available – sometimes more than a year in advance. “That is one of the top reasons to have an existing relationship with a travel agent – when the time comes to jump on the perfect cruise ship and stateroom, they already know what you want and can ensure you don’t miss out,” said Weisner. “Plus, thanks to our longstanding relationships with cruise lines, we can offer provide even further value including possible cabin upgrades and other amenities.”
3. Secure staterooms as close as possible
Some of the cruise ships that are most popular with families are also the largest at sea, holding well over 3,000 passengers. If the client is not reserving a family suite, it’s much easier for family members to gather together if their staterooms are in close proximity to one another. Also, adjoining staterooms are a great option, but again, because they represent a subset of total inventory, they sell out quickly and typically well before the ship is full.
4. Carefully plan dining options
Most cruise lines offer early and a late dining options in the main dining room, to which passengers are assigned prior to cruising. The early dining option often fills up first. With that knowledge, Cruise Holidays’ agents recommend putting in a request for early dining as soon as possible, so that children can get to bed on time. Grandparents may also find the early dining option to be preferable.
5 (tie). Aim for quality – the best your family can afford
Cruise Holidays agents advise that families are often pleasantly surprised to learn about the many things that are included in the base price of a cruise – meals, accommodations, entertainment and more. “The investment cruise lines are making in new ships is huge – a total capital investment of approximately $8 billion in 2014 and 2015 – so the demand is there and first-time cruiser satisfaction is off the charts. Cruisers can feel confident knowing that they will get the most value for their dollar,” said Weisner.
5 (tie). Communicate clearly with the entire family
Before the trip, it may be helpful for one family member to serve as the liaison between those traveling and the travel agent. “While many family reunions often place a huge burden on the organizer to arrange activities, dining, and lodging, this is all provided for you on the cruise, so no one in the family gets stuck with all the hard work,” said Weisner. Onboard, communicate expectations for how much time you plan to spend together – and acknowledge it’s acceptable to spend some time apart. “Dinner together as a group can be a great way to share stories about everyone’s favorite moment of the day as well as plan for the next day.”