We are going on a World Cruise, and we will be travelling with friends. One hundred days is a long time to be vacationing other people, but we met this couple on a cruise originally, have now travelled with them coincidentally three times, and planned this fourth cruise together. We know by now we are compatible travel companions. What people find a bit surprising is that we have chosen to each eat dinner at separate tables for two most nights. We will have dinners together on formal nights only. It works well for us.
On past cruises, three of us have breakfast together, read what passes for the daily newspaper on a ship, do the crossword puzzles and plan our day’s activities, either separately or together, once number four finally arrives late! And the late person, incredibly, is not me! That pattern is not set in stone, but the one definite activity we do share on sea days is playing on a Trivia team, which is how we originally met ten years ago.
Once every year or two, my oldest (not by age) and closest friend and I leave our husbands behind, and take a one week cruise. On those occasions, we eat dinner together but during the day we often don’t cross paths. She will participate in every lecture and activity available, and I will sit and read or paint for hours at a time. She’s a very early riser, and I am not. It works well for us.
While other people have had bad experiences cruising with friends—something to discuss another time—there is one category that can be most harrowing: travelling with relatives! Our four-generation family cruise took eighteen months of negotiating to finally come up with a date and location suitable for all. And I can’t imagine how long it would have taken if we weren’t financing everyone!!
Our family cruise rules were simple—dinner together, and other than that everyone was on his or her own to make plans. With seven adults and two little children on a seven day cruise, each night a different adult would stay in the stateroom with the children after dinner, and the others were free to enjoy the evening. For our crowd, that meant Trivia and the evening show. Since six seems to be the universal number allowed on a Trivia team, our rotating group was the perfect number. One night when great grandma was watching the children, the Trivia topic was ‘Show tunes of the 30s and 40s.’ Instantly, one of the younger adults ran up to the stateroom to swap places with great grandma—who knew all the songs, and we won that night!
The friend I sometimes travel with also went on a cruise with her family. Her three-generation brood totaled seventeen, a more formidable group for arranging dinner seating and activities on shore and aboard ship. Her solution was to give each grandchild a set amount of money (they were all teenagers) for shore excursions and spending money. That was great fun as some bought souvenirs, some bought shore excursions, and one of them decided to keep the money and just relax! For my friends, as was true for us, the family photos are a happy memory for all.
Of course, there can often be unanticipated issues that arise. We took our nineteen-year-old granddaughter on a cruise as a graduation gift. While that is below the legal drinking age for Americans, it was not for the European teenagers on the ship. Fortunately the parents had said she could have a glass of wine with dinner each night (ordered by me). As for whatever happened after we were in bed and she was with the other young people, she points out “What happens on the ship, stays on the ship!” And while we did not have the same rule about eating together each night, she chose to have dinners (not just for the wine), and spend time ashore with us in every port. At the end of the week, her modern version of the family photo was a Facebook post!
So whether you travel with family or friends, the best way to assure a great cruise is careful planning; a ship with activities that everyone will enjoy, an itinerary to ports of interest, and agreements in advance about time spent together or on one’s own.
If you need assistance, advice or suggestions, we are here and ready to help!