Cruising With Teens
What makes a cruise a great cruise for teens? It can be summed up in two words -- other teens. The cruise lines have done a good job creating facilities and activities where teens can meet up, sometimes wisely disguised with names like Optix and Common Grounds. And the lines have also tried hard to create exciting programs like pool parties, dancing and karaoke contests, hoping to keep their teenage guests more, well, regulated. This has met with limited success. The reality is you can't expect your teen to hang out at the teen center all day.
One of the joys of cruising for families with teens is they can have at least a little freedom from the parents, at least while the ship is at sea. That's not to say teens can't get in trouble on a ship, including problems with alcohol. Drinking ages vary onboard ships, starting from 18 or 21.
A few things parents of teens should keep in mind:
Let your teens hang out, but know where they are (you might consider bringing walkie-talkies so you can stay in touch).
Talk with your teens about your policy on drinking alcohol.
Remind your teen that family rules still apply while on vacation.
In choosing a ship, look for teen-appealing offerings like hot tubs, a rock-climbing wall, a waterslide, a mini-golf course, a basketball/volleyball court, a video arcade and 24-hour food offerings. Some teens will probably spend part of the trip bemoaning their left behind boyfriend or girlfriend. If your teen is so inclined, pick a vessel with an Internet Cafe, but be aware it's not hard to rack up big bills when you're paying 50 cents to $1.50 per minute.
To assure there will be other teens aboard, cruise during a school vacation period. If you choose another time, check with Cruises For Families to see if other teens are booked (you may be surprised how many people pull their kids out of school for a chance to cruise).
Be assured your teen will find plenty to do on your family cruise vacation. And you may even find he or she looks forward to meeting up with you at dinner to catch up on the day's goings-on!
Kirsten's Top Ship Picks when travelling with Teens:
Royal Caribbean's Allure and Oasis of the Seas
Norwegian Epic, Breakaway and Getaway