5 steps to planning a group cruise
Cruises are hugely popular because they appeal to all ages and interests. They offer diverse activities, entertainment, delicious dining, kids clubs as well as incredible destinations. They are a great option for group travel because a lot of the detail is already arranged for you. Whether you’re planning a holiday with friends, family, colleagues or a sporting team, you’ll be able to find a cruise to suit every taste and budget.
Here’s our guide to planning a P&O group cruise in 5 simple steps.
Step 1: Appoint a group leader
Who’s the natural born leader of your group? If they’re willing, this person should be the captain of your crew. In this role, they’ll be the point of contact for the P&O Group Bookings team (yes, we have a team dedicated to handling group bookings) as well as the members of your group, and will be able to relay information about prices, activities, and deadlines. They’ll also be the decision-maker.
The best group leaders are organised, with top-notch communication skills and attention to detail. They can weigh up everyone’s opinions, and then make a final call based on that feedback.
While P&O takes care of almost everything once you’re onboard, having a group leader will make the planning process so much easier.
Top Tip: Let your cruise specialist know in advance of your travel if you’re celebrating a special occasion. If we have a heads up, we may be able to arrange something special for you.
Step 2: Choose a cruise
There are a few ways to find the perfect cruise. With so many different types of P&O Cruises on offer, you can decide by destination, travel dates, duration, cruise theme or budget.
To decide, start a discussion with your group. Depending on the size of your group, you could share ideas and then vote on them. Otherwise, the group leader could do the preliminary research, and then present 3-5 options to the group. The good news is: cruises have something for everyone, which is why they’re perfect for groups. There’s plenty of room plus space to escape when you need to! Whether your group is made up of adventurers, foodies, culture buffs or people who are happiest on a sun lounger, cruises have mainstream appeal.
Top Tip: Cruises depart conveniently from a number of main cities like Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide (as well as across the ditch in Auckland) so choose a departure port close to home.
Step 3: Ask about cruise packages and perks
P&O is well-equipped for group cruises. On any given cruise, you might meet groups celebrating a birthday, family reunion or even a wedding! It could be a sporting group, or just a group of friends spending quality time together. We love having groups onboard, and do everything we can to accommodate them.
Before your cruise, enlist your group leader to chat to one of our cruise consultants about perks and privileges. If you cruise for at least 7 nights, we’ll throw in an onboard credit or an event package. We also offer packages for conferences and corporate meetings.
Importantly, our team will take care of the details, and help plan on board events with you. All you have to do is tell us how we can make your holiday even more memorable.
Top Tip: Once you’ve chosen a cruise, contact our specialists to ask about a group booking code. It’s a fuss-free system. Instead of leaving the group leader to collect payments, every group member will be able to hop online and quote the code to pay their fare.
Step 4: Book as early as possible
Book in advance - it is essential when you’re planning a group cruise, especially if you’re travelling during peak season, such as the summer or school holidays. The earlier you book, the more options you’ll have in terms of room locations and itinerary choice. You’ll have a higher chance of nabbing adjoining cabins, triples or quads. Plus, you’ll have plenty of time to book shore tours, spa treatments, drinks packages (for 7+ night cruises) and order your cruise shirts!
At P&O, our shore tours are on sale as soon as you can log onto Cruise Control (approximately 3 days after booking your cruise), and we close them 3 days before you’re due to sail. Shore tours are in high demand, so if you and your group want to “live like locals” for the day, we suggest securing your spots in advance. To do this, log into Cruise Control and have your credit or debit card handy. If you have a bunch of people interested in a shore tour, chat to your group specialist – depending on the destination, we may be able to organise a private vehicle for you. You can book shore tours onboard but it’s worth booking ahead to avoid disappointment.
Top Tip: Get your group leader to compile an email with shore tour options, including dates and prices. Choose and book early to avoid disappointment. We have compelling data that shows people who take shore tours enjoy their time on land much, much more.
Step 5: Create a plan
How much time will you spend together onboard? In our experience, different groups have different approaches to cruising. Some groups like to maximise their time together by filling their schedule with group activities, while others are more flexible and spontaneous. Speak to your group about their expectations beforehand. Maybe everyone is free to do their own thing during the day, and join forces for dinner every night. Maybe you take that one step further and meet up at breakfast too. Or maybe you plan to spend the afternoon together, just in case there are some people who want to enjoy a slower start to the day. There’s no right or wrong answer!
Whatever you do, we suggest sharing a few meals together (speak to our team about group dining reservations), and planning a couple of group activities, such as a trivia game, a show, or a day at P&O Edge – our adventure park at sea. At the very least, get together for a group photo!
Top Tip: Communicate the plan and all cruise details via email, or set up a Facebook group in the lead-up to the cruise. That way, the most important information is written down for easy reference, including confirmation numbers, details for Cruise Control, downloading e-tickets, departure times and shore tours. When you’re onboard, choose a centralised meeting place - some guests even use walkie talkies to communicate!