What is an affinity cruise?
An affinity cruise is basically a group cruise with like-minded people who have a common interest or hobby. It could be just about any interest you can imagine. Motorcycle enthusiasts, quilters, history buffs, artists, poets. Elvis fans, alien hunters, naturalists, etc., etc., etc.
Dedicate the entire ship to the group
Some of these cruises are hosted by the cruise line where they dedicate the entire ship to that particular interest. As an example, one particular line put together a Rock & Roll cruise. They scheduled a few popular bands (no really big names, but definitely up and coming) to perform on-board, and also planned special events in each of the ship's ports-of-call. It was a five-day continuous party. Rock & Roll music lovers came from all over the country to party with other Rock & Roll music lovers.
Ship provides special perks and discounts for a group
However not all affinity cruises are total-ship-take-overs. Some are small groups of people who already know each other. Perhaps a local bridge club, or wine club, or even a Jimmy Buffet fan club. They pick a cruise, reserve a block of cabins, and arrange a few on-board events and possibly schedule a few on-shore events as well. For groups like these the cruise lines not only offer discounted prices, they also offer free use of meeting rooms, dining areas, even whole theaters for the group's events. The group may not be large enough to take over the whole ship, but they do have lots of opportunities to be together.
Some of these smaller groups or clubs prefer to be with people they already know so they close the cruise to only their own members. Others, however, advertise the cruise to other like-minded people with the same interest. Let's say you love to play golf. You might want to join a group of other like-minded golf enthusiasts who reserved a block of cabins on a five-night cruise that sailed from Boston, with stops in New York, Baltimore, and Charleston. The group not only arranged to play top courses in each location, but also arranged for on-board lessons by professional golfers, as well as group meet-n-greets, cocktail parties, and private group dinners. The group opened up this cruise to any golfer who would like to join in the fun. You might convince a few of your buddies to go along with you or perhaps you might join in on your own. Either way, you'd be with other golf enthusiasts and likely make some new life-long friends.
Can I start my own affinity cruise?
You bet! It's easy, too. All you need is a Cruise Specialist who will spend the time helping you set it up.
Perhaps we just can't find that perfect affinity cruise that's right for you. Or perhaps your special interest is somewhat unique, and no one has thought to ever create a group cruise just for enthusiasts like you. Either way, you can create it yourself. Here's how you do it.
You call your Cruise Specialist to discuss it. Your Cruise Specialist will help you choose the right cruise line, the right ship, the right itinerary, and the right dates. You'll decide what sort of on-board activities to have. Perhaps a Welcome Aboard party, a couple of private dinners, maybe a few classes, and an awards ceremony. Your Specialist will arrange not only the spaces you'll need for these events, but can also arrange menus and special equipment (microphones, video projectors, lights, etc.). And because you are working with a Cruise Specialist, it's likely they can negotiate discounted prices for your entire group and even get the line to throw in a bunch of freebies.
Once you've decided on the details, your Specialist will arrange for the line to 'block' off a selection of cabins based on an estimate of how many people you think you might get to join your cruise. These will be held for a certain amount of time, giving you an opportunity to fill them. It is now your job to advertise your cruise to like-minded people. Keep in mind that if by chance you are not successful getting enough people to commit to the cruise by a certain date, the cruise line will just cancel the reservation on those cabins and call the whole thing off.
Last, but not least, depending on the number of attendees, it is customary for the cruise line to comp the leader of the group, and possibly a spouse. That's right. Start up your own specialty group cruise, get enough people to join in the fun, and you could go free.
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