What's the difference between AC and the Jersey Shore?
OK - that is awesome that you guys travel together to do this. I'm jealous. But since you're all on the East Coast, why not do it on a cruise ship? You can get a real cheap cruise to the Bahamas outta Philly or Baltimore and of course Fort Lauderdale (but it sounds like that is much further south than you guys live). Or you can fly to the Bahamas, roundtrip for under $300.
Also - go to TravelZoo.com and you should be able to get a lot of cheap ideas there.