Remember: This is Your Vacation, Too
Giving each person the freedom to travel as they desire meets the Individual's needs and prepares the group for a phenomenal trip together.
Travel separately. Consider cost, efficiency and needs for each group member. When flying, different airlines are the best choice allowing the use of airline points, different hub cities and more direct routes. Also, some members want to spend time in other nearby places before and/or after the cruise, independent of the group and river cruise line. Additionally, some group members add optional pre- and post-cruise land tours offered by the river cruise line to their itinerary. These tours do not fit the schedule of other group members.
Flexible schedules. One of the best parts of river cruising is the casual atmosphere onboard the ship. Here, guests are free to plan their own schedules. They participate in some or all of the included shore excursions, opt for the special excursions offered by the cruise line, or stay and relax onboard while other passengers tour. Encourage group members to make their schedule.
Plan group time. Set aside time during the day when group members spend time together, talk and enjoy each other. One group used an hour or so before dinner and called it their 'Sip & Share'. While enjoying a favorite libation and food bought and associated with that day's port city, group members shared stories of the day while showing their pictures and souvenirs. Another group preferred spending their special time onboard in the early morning enjoying the peaceful river and eating breakfast together while discussing their plans for the day.
Hire a guide to explore special interests. Groups have a tie that binds. A special excursion exploring their special interest - possibly genealogy, history, religion, music, art, architecture, food, wine, beer - makes the difference between a good trip and the trip of a lifetime.
Groups leaders may arrange special excursions prior to the cruise by contacting the cruise line or local destination marketing organization for a list of special guides in the area who are knowledgeable of the subject and experienced with groups interested in the subject. If arrangements aren't made in advance, the onboard cruise director may have resources to help arrange the excursion during the cruise. The group is responsible for paying the guide.
Meet other people. Getting to know follow passengers enriches the cruise experience for each group member. Groups recognize that river cruise passengers are sociable people. River cruises tend to promote familiarity between passengers due to the small number of passengers and the common shared experiences during shore excursions and onboard.