Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise with friends is a great way to travel with your besties without feeling you have to be attached at the hip the entire time. Because there is so much to do on a ship, it allows different personalities to do what they enjoy, while still being together.
Taking friends on a cruise comes with its own challenges to ensure you all have a great time onboard. The good news with a little bit of planning, you can ensure your friends enjoy the cruise without any hiccups.
Before you book a sailing or get onboard with your matching shirts, be sure to heed this advice for a great start.
Book with the same travel agent
Whether you have two or ten cabins, book everyone under the same travel agent for simplicity.
Not only could you potentially get group benefits from Royal Caribbean if you book enough cabins, but being booked under the same travel agent really makes coordinating onboard plans a lot simpler.
Travel agents make it so much easier to remind your pals it's time to make final payment, or answer any sort of billing questions with the cruise line. You love your friends, but dealing with friends and their financial situation is no fun.
In addition, a travel agent can easily link everyone's reservations together so that dining together is simple.
If there was a need to cancel or change sail dates, having the same agent makes the process much easier.
Talk about priorities
Unlike family, sometimes expressing what you really want to do with friends can be tough since you don't want to offend anyone or come off as appearing to be needy. However, you should have a good idea of what everyone wants from the sailing before you book.
There is a fine line between planning ahead and becoming burdensome with a schedule. Everyone comes in with different ideas about how much they want to to do together, or not.
Before the cruise, have a conversation about what they are looking forward to doing, especially together. It is a good idea to figure out is this a trip where you will all hang out all day, or just meet up for drinks.
Have a communication plan
Onboard a cruise ship, there is no cellular phone service, so you should have a plan on how everyone will chat.
Group chats in apps like Facebook or WhatsApp are very common, but you will all need to get an internet package.
You could use walkie talkies or rely on voicemails in your cabins, but these tend to be more cumbersome.
The key is to ensure you all agree on something before you get onboard so no one is left in the dark.
One of the best pieces of advice for friends on a cruise is at the very least have dinner together every night.
Everyone finds their own activities to do onboard, but it is a good idea to plan to meet up for dinner each night to have a common time to meet.
Whether the main dining room, Windjammer, or specialty restaurants, have a plan for everyone to enjoy dinner together each evening for a time to reconnect and make plans for the following day.
Matching t-shirts are popular
A recent trend among groups is to get matching shirts for everyone in the group.
This not only makes for great group photos, but you can easily identify everyone. This is helpful with large groups.
There are many places online you can customized shirts, or just pick a design and buy one for everyone.
It can be tempting to try to plan every minute of the cruise, but too much of a good thing applies to a cruise too.
If you try to plan too much, things can get quickly overwhelming for some friends in your group, as well as create rifts among friends.
Leave time for everyone to do their own thing, keeping in mind you could still do things together on the fly.
Get separate billing
Sharing a cabin with a friend? Set up different billing methods for each person.
You can assign credit cards to specific people in the room at Guest Services, which makes settling the bill later significantly easier.
In addition, it is a good idea to make clear lines of who is picking up what tab. Shore excursions, dinners, and drink orders are all common ways you could pay for someone else, but be certain before the end of the cruise the bills all look good.
If you need to re-arrange any extra costs, a trip to Guest Services could fix that. Alternatively, you could simply send money electronically to friends after the sailing.
Plan a time to meet on embarkation day
The bigger the group, the more likely everyone will arrive at different times to the cruise terminal on embarkation day, so pick a time to meet.
It is a good idea to pick a time in late afternoon for the meet. Sailaway is a good time that everyone will be onboard and ready for some fun.
Fun things to pack
Here are some good ideas of things to pack to bring on a cruise with friends:
- Door decorations (with magnets, not tape to put it up)
- Drink koozies
- Towel clips
Pre-book for bigger groups
The bigger your group, the more important pre-booking is for certain events and offerings.
Specialty restaurants, shore excursions, the escape room, and pretty much anything with limited capacity is a good idea to pre-book whenever possible.
It is not always possible to pre-book everything, but look for the options in the Cruise Planner.