Many changes in the cruise industry over the past decade, especially with regard to entertainment, recreational activities and other amenities aimed at a younger clientele, make seagoing trips an increasingly inviting alternative to land-based student adventures. Whether it’s a festival at sea, graduation cruise, or spring break cruise, this vacation option is more popular than ever for younger clientele. Add to the equation the plethora of new cruise ships entering the market, student group cruises are more affordable than ever.
Today’s cruise ships have rock-climbing walls, bowling alleys, miniature golf and state-of-the-art shows. For instance, Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas have two rock-climbing walls, a zip line that extends nine decks, an ice-skating rink, two FlowRider® surf simulators and a 3D movie theater. Their AquaTheater shows are complimentary, as are their Broadway musicals.
Norwegian Cruise Line features Broadway shows as well as cutting-edge experiences. Its Norwegian Epic offers Blue Man Group shows, rock climbing walls and three, two-lane bowling alleys. The Aqua Park features three water slides, including the Epic Plunge. The line’s newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway, boasts a three-story sports complex, along with other innovative entertainment options.
When it comes to accommodating groups, policies vary from cruise line to cruise line, and student groups may be handled differently than adult groups. Some lines don’t accept student groups or do not have a focused product for them. Here is a look at four cruise lines and what they can do for student groups:
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line’s group department says certain guidelines must be met if 50% of the guests in a group are under the age of 21. Eight cabins are the minimum, and a maximum of 100 students may be booked. Each guest under the age of 21 years old must pay a $50 security deposit, which will be refunded after the end of the cruise as long as everything is intact and nothing has been damaged. The line requires that one chaperone accompany every four students (guests under 21 years). For group reservations, call 866-625-1165. (www.ncl.com)
Carnival Cruise Lines
A Carnival Cruise Lines’ spokesperson said that they work with two or three approved student tour operators, and Carnival shares its detailed student-group guidelines with them. If an established group leader is not a travel agent, Carnival Cruise Lines will recommend them to their approved tour operators for fulfillment. As far as general criteria, Carnival Cruise Lines wants a chaperone for each stateroom. When calling Carnival, use 800-438-6744 and hit prompt #3 for the groups department, which can provide information and contacts for their approved student tour operators. (www.carnival.com)
Royal Caribbean International
Travel agents can create a student program by working with the line’s business development manager or its large groups, corporate and incentive sales team to block group space and arrange private events and special catering, according to a spokesperson. But Royal Caribbean does not offer a defined student product to the public. It does have a general policy on guests under age 21—in each stateroom there must be at least one adult 21 or older. (Reservations: 800-327-6700, www.royalcaribbean.com)
According to Princess Cruises’ group department, any student group would be handled by the incentive group coordinator, who welcomes requests in a fax. Using the fax number 661-284-4776, include the itinerary, ship and preferred sailing date. The coordinator can go over specific details and guidelines. For reservations, call 800-774-6237 and get connected with the right area and department for your group. (www.princess.com)