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Balloons and streamers in your high school gym? Tasteless dinner in an expensive hotel ballroom? What did your last high school reunion look like?
I attended only one of my high school reunions, in 1994 in Houston, Texas. I attended two schools abroad – one in Aberdeen, Scotland, and one in Caracas, Venezuela. Attendance at those schools consisted of the children of expats working for multi-national companies, the military or diplomatic corps. American and international schools abroad comprise a high ratio of Americans. Most of my fellow classmates have ended up stateside.
Facebook now connects many of us. Last year one of our classmates (thank you Sylvia) posted a Facebook poll to gauge interest in a reunion. We had a list of cities and times of the year to pick from. The winner was Miami in the summer months. But then one of our brilliant classmates (thank you Willie) suggested we consider a cruise instead. Once we really started looking at our options, there was no doubt in our minds that a cruise was perfect for us.
Our group booked a Bahamas cruise on Royal Caribbean leaving from Miami on a Friday and returning early on Monday. I think it’s fair to say this reunion was a huge success. Based on our experience, here are the top 5 reasons why you should seriously consider a cruise for your next reunion:
Someone else Handles the Logistics!
Forget locating a hotel and booking a block of rooms. Forget looking around for a restaurant, ballroom, or caterer. Forget having to make endless decisions via committee.
When you book a reunion cruise with a cruise company, there is already a plan. Booking through a travel agent or the cruise company as a group ensures that everyone sits together for dinner by connecting all reservations. Depending on the size of your group, cruise lines will host a special reception for your group.
The cruise company decides the itinerary and provides options for activities. Just pack your bag and show up!
Everything is Included in your Reunion Cruise!
Do you really want to collect deposits for rooms or dinner? Or a band?
The beauty of a cruise is that lodging, food, and entertainment are included. Yes, cruises can be expensive, but if your classmates have scattered across the country, airfare and lodging expenses add up regardless of what kind of trip you plan. With a cruise, there are no unexpected expenses, and you can pretty much leave your wallet in the room safe for the duration of the trip. Plus, did I mention that all the planning is done for you?
There is something to Do for Every Interest Group!
A reunion cruise allows a family with teenagers seeking adventure to have as much fun as the single adult who came to party. And if you want to rest in the sun and read a book, there are ample opportunities to relax.
Cruise ships have activities planned throughout the day. Someone can go play bingo while another learns how to make those cute towel animals. You can nap any time or try something yummy to eat (or drink) at any time.
You’ll get to Spend More Time Together on your Reunion Cruise!
The one complaint I’ve heard consistently about reunions is the inability to spend quality time with your friends from 20 years ago. If you’re limited to one night in a crowded or loud high school gym or hotel ballroom, you can’t catch up very well.
A cruise allows you to spend a few days together. Whether you’re lounging by the pool, laying on a beach, or participating in a lively adult game of Quest, you’ll get to reconnect and rediscover old friendships or even form new ones. See what we did in Nassau.
Children are Included in your Reunion Cruise!
And if you’re in my age group (late ’40s), you’ll find that your classmates are all over the place when it comes to having children. Some of us have grown children who are on their own or in college. Others have teenagers. A few have elementary school age children and there are even a few babies in the mix. Some of your classmates may be single. Some may simply be looking for a brief respite from family life!
How do you plan an event for several days where people feel comfortable bringing their kids without having to worry about babysitters or activities for them? A cruise is perfect! Younger kids can attend the youth camps. Some cruises even plan excursions with the teenagers.
Our group found that the kids bonded over dinner (we designated a “kids” table) such that by the end of our trip, they hung out in the hot tubs watching the movie on the main deck. They found every chocolate fountain! They had a sense of freedom, and the parents were comfortable knowing their kids were safe and could only roam so far.
Finally, is planning a reunion cruise worth the effort?
While researching whether a cruise made for a good idea for a reunion, I inevitably found negative stories. Like any other trip, doing some research and making sure the cruise line is reputable and the ship is appropriate are key. Based on our experience, a cruise reunion is a great option for groups that are looking for a destination-based event. This is especially true for groups that have scattered since graduation. Finally, a cruise makes sense for more classmates if you wait until people are better off financially – like more than a ten year reunion.
What really worked for our group was getting people to convince their friends to join them. We talked it up as an opportunity to catch up with friends they hadn’t seen in 30 years. While spending time together, we were able to introduce our families to each other.
If you’re part of a reunion organizing committee, I highly recommend considering doing a reunion cruise as an option. Feel free to contact me if you’ve got questions on how to do this! Please leave a comment if you’ve got other great reunion ideas.
Check out this post for the Top Five Ways To Avoid Spending Extra On A Cruise.
Annick, The Common Traveler