I have traveled the world alone – and also taken trips with more than 50 family members.
A recent trip was a family cruise – the first for many of my relatives – with 24 people ranging in age from two to 60 years.
cruise vacation are an ideal holiday spot as they offer a wide variety of activities to keep guests of all ages entertained so it worked out well for this group.
But as we sailed from New Jersey to Canada, I thought about what worked best when I was traveling with so many people – and when larger groups were sailing together.
One of my biggest learnings was that it’s important to remember that whether you’re traveling with one person or with 24 people, you don’t have to do everything together.
It’s fine to break up into smaller groups and enjoy various events around the ship – or even take some time to read alone in the ship’s cafe.
Here I have compiled my top three tips to ensure everyone you travel with, from big to small, has an enjoyable holiday.
Find activities that are fun for everyone
Most cruises offer a daily guide detailing all ship-related activities.
These can range from interactive game shows to rock climbing to bowling and drink tastings.
On this trip, my family and I encountered several events that appealed to the entire group.
Trivia from the TV show was a huge hit, as was dancing to live music.
After dinner we all made our way to the karaoke lounge and took turns singing our favorite tunes.
Also one day we all went up to one of the upper decks to play mini golf – which was a big hit with both the little kids and the adults.
There are also usually plenty of cafes and snack bars throughout the day to enjoy sweet treats like milkshakes or cookies – and who doesn’t love a sugar-filled lunchtime pick-me-up?
EAT A GROUP MEAL TOGETHER EVERY DAY
For my family, dinner was the easiest to organize.
Some cruise lines offer travelers the option to have dinner at set times, whenever they want.
Dinner in the main dining room is usually served between 17:00 and 21:00 or 22:00.
But other cruise ships, like the one we sailed on, had fixed seats at 5:30pm and 8pm.
We opted for the earlier mealtime to calm the youngest members of our group.
It worked out well for us as the kids were tired by the end of dinner and then slept in their strollers (ours of course) while the rest of us romped around the ship.
You can usually link your individual cruise reservations to the cruise line to ensure you’re all seated at tables next to each other for dinner.
We had three tables of eight in the same area of the main dining room that was assigned to us.
It worked out that we could switch places if necessary to change the whole thing.
But overall it was nice to have dinner together every night, even if we weren’t all at the same table.
FIND COMMON SPACES TO GATHER
A big part of our vacation was finding places on the ship where we could meet and enjoy each other’s company.
There were several lounges that were always open even when no activities were planned and had enough space for us to gather comfortably.
We brought drinks and snacks and enjoyed being together.
Some of our fondest vacation memories were created in those moments as we chatted and laughed together in the quiz lounge.
Another family-friendly space we found was the atrium, which is the center of the ship.
There were a few sections with chairs and sofas which worked well for us as we had a huge stroller and needed plenty of space to rest.
There was almost always live music here, which we all really enjoyed.
But it was especially great for the youngest members of our family, who shook and giggled to the band’s tunes.
If you’re planning a cruise vacation, here are five packing mistakes to avoid.
You might also like these three tips on how to make the most of a rainy day at sea.