When it comes to your next vacation, have you thought about taking a Girlfriends Getaway on a cruise ship?
Once in a while I come across groups of women on a cruise, and they're either college students taking a group cruise, members of a bridal party doing a bachelorette cruise — or longtime friends on a Girlfriends Getaway. The tips below can apply to all three.
So, whether you're age 16 or 60 and yearning for a hassle-free tropical escape, here are a few tips for planning and organizing your Girlfriends Getaway cruise.
Where to go
The first big decision is deciding where to go and a date that fits all of your busy schedules. If you're a cruise veteran, you might already have an idea of the kind of experience you're looking for. If you're a newcomer to cruises, no worries! Some tips:
- Decide on the size of the ship you'd like to go on. See How to find a cruise ship size that's right for you.
- Help your friends dispense with some of the myths about cruising.
- Don't jump at the first cruise sale you come across. Passengers rarely come back from a cruise boasting about what a low fare they paid. Make sure you research cruise lines & ships for the right fit.
- Use Cruiseable's one-of-a-kind Bliss Filters, there at the right, to slide right, slide left and find the experience, destination, price and ship type that's a good fit for you and your friends. We've set them for the Caribbean, but you can change it to any region of the world.
- Select a planner in your group who'll be the designated researcher. She can start off by reading how to prepare for your first cruise, including the importance of port planning.
- See our Super Guide to Booking a Cruise for insider tips, and then contact a travel professional.
What to bring
- Your casual wardrobe. Remember to bring casual clothing — perhaps all casual, depending on your destination. Short shorts are appropriate for hanging out on the beach, the pool deck and while working out. Bring at least one bathing suit (just don't expect to dine in the ship's main dining room without some coverups). See Patti's article on how to dress on the various cruise lines.
- Your evening wardrobe. Once the sun goes down and the serious fun starts, you'll want to make sure you've packed an array of evening gowns and attire to wear for nighttime festivities. Plan to bring at least two formal outfits, a couple of casual evening semiformal outfits and maybe your favorite dress to wear to show off in the nightclub or lounge. Patti also has some tips on nighttime attire.
- Day packs. Small backpacks come in handy for carrying your stuff: say, a magazine, paperback, some water bottles to keep hydrated while you soak up the rays, and your smartphone or camera, which will be needed to capture all of the fun moments that you and your friends have together aboard and on shore. (Leave the passport locked up in your room's safe, though.)
- Toiletries & necessities. The cruise ship will provide you with soap and shampoo, but don't feel shy about packing other personal necessities. You might want to pack a hair dryer (though some ships have these), cosmetics, medications and other products to make you feel right at home on your getaway. Tip: Have some ginger tea the day before you leave to ease any stomach upsets you might experience.
- Extra bags. If you love to shop, then you'll likely need some extra bags to store your souvenirs or rare finds that you snap up in port or on board.
- Your adventurous side. Make sure to pack your adventurous side. Enjoy your Girlfriends Getaway by taking on new adventures that you and your friends will remember for years to come. Try a shore excursion you might not have the nerve to do alone. How about ziplining, parasailing, windsurfing or kiteboarding?
Get to partying!
Once you're on board, you can kick back and relax. A lot of folks check into their rooms and immediately hit the pool deck and order a drink — don't feel shy about that. On sea days, you might look forward to some games on deck, from contests at the pool to ping pong, basketball or miniature golf.
Depending on the ship, at dinnertime you can dine together in the main dining room or make reservations for your group at one of the ship's specialty restaurants. If you're a Wild Bunch, you might want to opt for an all-you-can-drink beverage package before you board.
After dinner, you and your friends can hit up the casino or any number of bars and lounges before dancing the night away at a dance club. It's up to you how long you want to party before heading back to your rooms to re-energize for the rest of the journey. See What is there to do at night on a cruise?
Adventures on water or on land
As the ship lands for a day in port, grab the girls and hit the beach for a couple of hours of land tours, water sports or bar hopping to suit your interests. Often the ship arrives as early as 8 am and you need to be back by 4, 5 or 6 pm — sometimes later. (Premium lines like SeaDream, Windstar and Azamara often include at least one port, like St. Barts, where you can party into the wee hours.) Just make sure someone is keeping track of time, you won’t want to miss the ship as it sets off.
After your return, live it up some more on the ship with great dinners and cocktail hours, coupling it with additional dance club and late nights. Remember, this is your vacation and you get to decide how you want to spend it.
Contact a Cruiseable travel advocate
There are hundreds of Girlfriends Getaway cruises every year, as well as Bachelorette Party cruises and other group groups. So make sure you consult with a Cruiseable travel professional, or your own travel agent, before booking.
Use Cruiseable's Group Cruises Tool to save you and your friends hundreds or thousands of dollars. Then contact a Cruiseable travel advocate by calling 1-877-322-3773 or by emailing our business staff. Whatever else you do, have fun!