Family and Group cruise - Pros and Cons

After many years of cruising solo and a couple voyages with my sister and brother-in-law, the rest of my siblings and mother finally got on board (so to speak) and agreed to give it a go. A couple weeks ago, we booked a cruise on the Reflection (Celebrity) for January 2017. We have a bit of a wait but all are very excited to set off.

I am interested in hearing opinions...  

What made or broke your family and group cruise experience(s)? Any suggestions for avoiding the risk of ending up "too-close-for-comfort"?

8 Answers

Currently, there are eight of us in total with a possibility of a couple more who remain undecided at present. Here is what we have done thus far...

Stateroom selection

We all booked staterooms on the same deck for convenience but I made sure to spread out our cabins and avoided adjoining staterooms altogether.


One of our stops is Labadee so we already reserved one of the over-the-water cabanas for a day of family beach fun. A few of us are considering a dolphin encounter excursion together (Mum is a bit of a daredevil at the age of 86).

We are going to book an Alcove for at least one of the sea days so people can come and go at will.


We opted for anytime dining. If people want to dine together, they can but are not forced into a specific dining situation.

I have done a family Cruise, to make it successful we all had the same Dining table (assigned seating). We did not spend the full time together, if some wanted to go to the show, they went, if others wanted the casino they did that. In port we broke off into smaller groups depending what everybody wanted to do. Dad did not want to go into ports, sister in-laws dad is disabled so no walking tours for him, brother with kids so did stuff for the kids.

I look at it as separate vacations together. That is the great thing of a cruise something for everybody so nobody is stuck doing things they do not want to do.

Great choice of the Reflection, Solstice Class ships are my favorite.

I would say that establishing guidelines before you get on the ship helps. Usually we try to book our excursions individually so we have that time apart. We always arrange that we will all get together for dinner and the evening entertainment but are free to do what we like separately during the day times. We usually break down into smaller groups of those who are early risers and those who are late risers. Usually, when possible we meet around the pool. If there are daytime activities that some of us want to do, we do them together. Not everyone is happy with these arrangements. Some people expect to spend every minute with the whole group but that is unrealistic. Whatever you decide to do, let your wishes be known ahead of time so there is less misunderstanding.

When we went on our family cruise to Bermuda, we agreed way ahead of time for dinner and tours and events. It worked out great for everyone. Plan the whole week and work the plan as well. And have fun.

It has usually been my wife, our two kids and our son-in-law. That has worked out well. If the kids want to plan a wilder excursion than we are prepared to handle - they do that and we make arrangements to hook up prior to dinner. This year we are adding my parents to the group. Both are in their upper seventies, so the pace will be slower in general. We will still try to hook up with the kids for breakfast and dinner - but expect to see somewhat less of them.

Great way to look at it. I'm going to use that phrasing as we get together over the coming year for family events.

Can't agree with you more on this point. We are definitely reinforcing this point.

Good point. We started talking over port plans and such already. Definitely need to nail things down early on.


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