By Aubrey Williams


When reflecting on some of your most memorable moments, chances are that many of those moments involved family. Whether it's moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents, kids, or cousins that stir memories for you, it's almost certain that good times and togetherness are common themes. Family reunions are one of the most popular forms of good times and togetherness for black families, but we've come a long way from having them at Big Momma's house or the recreation center. Where are we having them now?

Now more than ever, black families are selecting cruises as the setting of choice for their family reunions, and for good reason. Cruise ships have all the necessary elements of a good black family reunion, including accommodations, food, music, games, entertainment, and great weather. Cruises offer all the same comforts of a typical get together, plus open ocean and some of the most beautiful islands and beaches in the world.

Family reunions can overcome years of absence between family members with an instant bonding. Maybe it's been five years since you last saw Uncle Curtis, but as soon as you see him, the two of you pick up right where you left off. Hugs, smiles, and laughter quickly fill the room. Cruises somehow amplify this instant bonding by way of intangible special powers. There's just something in the air that puts cruise passengers in an extremely joyful mood. This permeating vibe contributes well to the atmosphere of black family reunion cruises.

If you still think cruises are expensive, think again. In many cases, a four day cruise can be purchased for about the cost of an average airline ticket. On most cruises, the price will include accommodation, entertainment & activities, and an unlimited supply of great food. The all-inclusive nature of cruises makes them perfect for family reunions. This option often makes more sense than getting the family together in a hotel with the additional expense of meals. During the recent recession, cruises became a great overall value for families, hence the increase in the popularity of cruises over the last few years.

If you're considering a cruise for your next family reunion, these helpful tips will simplify your planning:

* Consider the audience of your reunion and pick a time that's convenient for everyone. If school kids are included, select a summer sailing when they are out of school.

* Try to secure group rates or perks for the members of your group. These might include discounts, or things like on-board credits redeemable at the gift shops, bars, and spa on the cruise ship.

* Book your family reunion cruise 9 to 12 months in advance. Not only does advanced booking get you better pricing, it also allows all the members of your family to make several small payments over time instead of paying all at once.

* Take stuff! Cruise ships are filled with activities like swimming pools, theaters, casinos, stage shows, live music, and dance clubs. That doesn't mean you can't take things that have been a part of your family bonding over the years. Make room in your luggage for cards, dominoes, or anything else your family enjoys. While there's a lot to do on a cruise, the whole point is for family members to spend time together.

* Don't book online - use a travel agent, preferably one who specializes in cruises, like A good agent will ask a lot of questions to understand your needs and present only the options that work best for your family. Your agent will know how to get the best deals and have a wealth of knowledge to make your black family reunion cruise a success. They will also work with you to organize deposits, payment plans, announcements, and special arrangements. If you want a family reunion, but dread all the hard work, you can relax knowing your cruise agent will handle all the details.

Cruise lines host hundreds of black family reunions each year, and the trend is increasing. The Caribbean and The Bahamas still dominate as the top destinations, but other options include Europe and Mexico. Whether you pulled the short straw or volunteered to plan the next family reunion, imagine your family together on a cruise. Cruises offer something for all, from the kids to the grandparents, and everyone in between. With the economy keeping cruise prices affordable, there's no better time to get your family on a cruise.

Aubrey Williams is a Travel Agent, Franchise Owner, and Professional Cruise Counselor. To contact him,

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