The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has recently released its much heralded annual Cruise Report. It’s always a fascinating read, packed with interesting facts and figures, and this year it’s especially significant as it highlights cruising in groups.
To summarise, the report found that cruises are considered to be most enjoyable when experienced in groups, with cruisers expressing high levels of satisfaction when they travel with others. “From organised groups to friends, family, children and partners, cruises are just more fun in groups than when travelling alone. That’s why last year marked the Year of FriendSHIP for cruisers who truly enjoy travelling with others.
I can vouch for this myself, having been lucky enough to travel last November on a P&O cruise to the Caribbean with three generations of my family; myself and husband Patrick, my daughter Kate and her husband Nicho, and granddaughter Saha (at 18 months one of the youngest passengers onboard).
We discovered it’s an ideal way to spend quality time together, whilst still managing to do our own thing.
I spoke with Nigel Blanks, Chief Operating Officer for Saga Cruises, who commented: “I think it’s fair to say we all feel more comfortable when we’re with a group of people that we know, and I suspect it’s for this reason that group travel is so popular, particularly for cruising. However, not everyone starts cruising in this way. The great thing that we see on Saga cruises is that many people start travelling with us individually or as couples, but soon meet up with new people and end up planning future trips with the groups of people they’ve met whilst onboard.”
Dan Whitehouse, Marketing Director for Titan Travel, added a valuable insight: “Cruises, whether by ocean or river, are the perfect choice for group travel. A good cruise director will work with the group leader to make sure the group is able spend the time together that they need, whether it’s dining as a group, enjoying excursions, cocktails on deck, or just making space available for everyone to meet on board - perhaps in a private room, library or bar.
“With enough notice, many cruise operators can tailor excursions or activities to match the specific interests of the group, and it’s always worth asking to see whether a free place will be available (as part of the group booking) for the leader or host. We’re always delighted to welcome groups on board Titan cruises, and with two exclusively chartered ships shortly about to be launched for 2019 sailings, now is a great time to talk to us to discuss your specific needs.’’
Timely advice – and the final word goes to Andy Harmer, Senior Vice-President Membership and Director, CLIA UK & Ireland: “Last year, we undertook a study of cruise passengers to ascertain how they prefer to travel; alone, with a partner, or in groups, and we found that cruisers are a very sociable lot! Cruise holidaymakers are 40% more likely to travel with friends, partners, companions or children than their land-based peers.
With 27 new ships due to be launched in 2018 alone, and even more scheduled for 2019 and beyond, there really is a cruise for everyone, from tiny tots to great-grandparents and beyond, meaning there’s never been a better time to choose to cruise with your friends and family.”
Cruises really do offer the best scenarios for groups: they appeal to travellers of all ages and budgets, offer different types of entertainment and activity, and you don’t have to live in each other’s pockets, doing everything together – unless, of course, you want to!