Trim the Sails - How to Fit a Cruise into a Tight Budget

The open air, water like glass, a light breeze in your face as you pass stunning landscapes, all while relaxing with good conversation, fabulous food, and refreshing beverages — there’s nothing quite like a cruise. Planning a cruise for your crew sounds like a fantastic idea … until you look at your budget. Do limited funds mean you have to throw the idea overboard completely? Or is there some way to take your group cruise and do it on a budget? These Minnesota cruise lines say you can. Here’s how:

Michele Baker, General Manager, Destiny Cruises

“Destiny Cruises sails a 100-passenger luxury yacht on Gull Lake in the Brainerd Lakes area and is the only cruise boat on Gull Lake. They’re ideal for groom’s dinners, small weddings, birthdays, corporate events, and public cruises. They can pick up parties from any of the premier resorts on the lake and work with many different budgets to help create the most memorable experience on the North Star.

There are several ways a planner can keep costs low, while still planning an enjoyable group cruise.” These include:
•    Stay flexible on dates and book early.
•    Sightseeing or appetizer cruises are very affordable. We also offer a Sunset Cruise that includes a dessert and coffee buffet. Let the sunset be your backdrop to the end of a beautiful day.
•    Keep the bar simple. If hosting, stick to house wines, beer, and rail pours
•    Food can be pricey so you can stay with lighter options and order something like pulled pork sliders or tacos for the main course.
•    Stay simple with linens. We always have black linen that is included with all cruises in the main salon. Colored options are available at a small upcharge per table.  
•    For small groups of 10-20 people, we can include their party with a public cruise.

For these semi-private parties, we reserve space for the group in our Main Salon. Let our professional crew help create a fun and affordable cruise for you!

Gus Gaspardo, Owner/President, Padelford Riverboats

“Our company was established in 1969. We have three boats in our fleet that cruise on the Mississippi River departing from Harriet Island in St. Paul. Many don’t realize it, but the area from Minneapolis to Hastings is a national park — the Great River National Park. So, in the midst of an urban area with 3 million residents, our cruises allow passengers to enjoy this hidden gem.”

Gus offers the following for planners on a budget:
•    We’re very budget friendly. We’ve modeled our pricing that way so we can serve a wide demographic.
•    You can choose to book just the boat cruise itself, or step up to include appetizers and even whole meals.
•    Public sightseeing cruises are less expensive than private ones, and we do offer group rates
•    Our personalized sales staff can tailor a private cruise to the customer’s budget. We’ll work with you to arrange entertainment, food, and beverages that are all reasonably priced. Some lines charge a fee for that consultation, but we never do.

Terry Jungers, Owner/Operator, Lady of the Lake

“Lady of Lake is Lake Minnetonka’s historic 100-passenger paddlewheel boat docked in and chartered from Excelsior. We’ve been offering 2-4 hour private and public cruises for 30 years on Lake Minnetonka. It is the only three deck charter boat on the lake.”

Terry recommends the following tips for affordability:
•    Let the cruise company know up front that you have a tight budget
•    If possible, know the amount you’re working with. We can tailor a nice cruise to fit your budget
•    Provide the number of passengers as early in the process as you can
•    Booking early and having flexibility with dates can be helpful, too. It’s easier to schedule around boat availability, then to commit to a hard date with your group, then find out the boat is booked.
•    You’ll be most successful if you have as much information as you can up front. We can then work with you on a schedule, menu, and pricing.

Dave Lawrance, Owner/Operator, Paradise Charter Cruises + the Minneapolis Queen

“Since 1985, we have been providing Daily Public Cruise Tours and Private Charters aboard our fleet of five boats on both Lake Minnetonka and the Mississippi River. With accommodations for groups of 10-145 passengers, we offer fun activities for team building events, business meetings, client entertaining, and more.”

Dave offers the following advice:
•    We can accommodate most budgets. We don’t require minimums which is very helpful for planners when arranging for an event.
•    Many clients will reserve block space on Public Cruises for Client Entertaining or Department Parties
•    We also offer a land-based facility at our Mississippi River location, departing from Bohemian Flats, where guests can arrange a pre-cruise showing, event, or other offering prior to boarding the boat for a luncheon or dinner cruise.
•    Our cruise coordinators work with planners to meet their budget and to offer suggestions and recommendations to make their event a success on any budget.
•    We do our best to facilitate our clients’ needs without going overboard on price, resulting in an event their guests will remember and meets their budget.

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Kris McNeely, Content Editor | meetingpages |

As a freelance editor and writer for more than twenty years, Kris McNeely has had the opportunity to write and edit everything from non-fiction books to blog posts, web content to white papers, ads to articles. She was named an Erma Bombeck Humor Writer of the Month, has been featured in multiple anthologies, and was selected by Amtrak Railway Service as one of five travel writers from among a pool of 1500 applicants nationwide. In her free time, she likes to jog, garden, travel, and spend time with her two kids and three grandchildren.

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