Teenagers can be a delightful nightmare. When planning a holiday with them, it’s difficult to strike a fine balance between family time and allowing them their own space. A cruise can be an excellent option that allows freedom in a safe space while still having fun with the family. We’ve talked about cruising with kids, now here are our tips for cruising with teens.
1. Choose a cruise line with lots of options for teens
Each cruise line offers diverse services, and different ships and cruises have varying focuses. Make sure you check out the vessel beforehand to ensure it’s teen-friendly.
Royal Caribbean: These ships are floating playgrounds - with ice-skating rinks, mini-golf courses, basketball courts, rock-climbing walls, a FlowRider surf simulator, swimming pools and almost 30 different dining options. The youth program is split between Navigators (aged 12-14) and Teens (aged 15-17), with fun and exciting options such as karaoke, sports tournaments, toga parties and open mic nights.
Carnival Cruises: A popular choice for families, Carnival have water parks, poolside theatres, 3D movie experiences with vibrating seats, mini-golf, ping-pong, mini-bowling, water slides and pools, basketball and more! There is also Club 02, with late-night parties for teens aged 15-17, complete with a dance floor, computers, and a soda bar - the perfect place to hang out. Younger kids aged 12-14 have a similar venue called Circle C.
Norwegian Cruises: Teenagers will love these cruises. Entourage is a teen-friendly club with Wii U, air hockey and foosball during the day, morphing into a disco at night with dancing and music. There are also aqua-parks including 360-degree spinning waterslides, a Sky Trail rope course that hangs over the ocean, rock-climbing wall and mini-golf. The range of food options may mean you won’t see your teen the entire trip!
P&O Cruises: These family-friendly, laidback ships offer HG for kids aged 10-13, and HQ+ for those aged 14-17 which is essentially a chill space: video games, movies, and even a movie-making workshop for creating short films.
2. Arrange communication
Possibly the best thing about cruises for teens is that they get freedom. They can go and do what they want, when they want. This may mean they decide to sleep in until lunchtime and then disappear altogether. So, before they vanish, develop a plan about how you intend to communicate. Cellphones will have no signal, and WiFi on board can be extremely expensive. A walkie-talkie can be a good idea, but they are noisy and obtrusive for other guests.
Instead, consider having a set time when you touch base with your teen every day, either in person or using in-room phones. You can send texts on walkie-talkies, but this does rely on remembering to charge the device. Possibly the best option that many experienced cruisers recommend is using post-it notes to communicate. You will find yourself naturally returning to your room regularly throughout the day - a post-it note on the door tells your teen where you are and informs them of meet-ups.
3. Book with other families
If you can coincide your trip with another family with kids the same age, this is ideal. It provides some company for your teen, and they can attend events with their friend. If you have a child who isn’t confident on their own, this can be a great way to get them to leave their room.
4. Arrange for downtime
With no internet (gasp!!) your teen needs to arrange what they want to do in their free time. Download books onto a Kindle, make sure they have their music collection with them and a tablet or phone with games on it. While there are libraries and entertainment spaces onboard, make sure you are prepared, so they have something to do they will enjoy.
5. Incite enthusiasm in your teen
Find out about the teens club on board and try to stir up excitement in your child. Remember, these clubs will be filled with other less-than-overjoyed kids, and the cruise lines will be used to hosting reticent children. Some teens, especially introverted kids, may not want to join a programme and that’s OK.
6. Spend time together on excursions
When you arrive in port, there are a range of activities that the line advertises. While the art gallery and museum might sound wonderful to you, consider an experience your teen will love to share with you. Here are some of our favourites, available on various family-friendly cruise lines around the South Pacific:
Australia Zoo: This zoo is Steve Irwin’s legacy. It’s incredible in the way they treat their animals, educate their guests and let you get up close to some amazing animals. You can watch a crocodile show, check out Sumatran/ Bengal tigers and cuddle koalas - a must for any nature-loving teen.
Akaroa Kayak Safari: This is ideal for an active kid who loves exploring. You’ll go on a guided kayak tour of this remote area - keeping an eye out for dolphins, seals, and an array of seabirds. Stretch your legs (or, arms) and have fun together.
Fiji Flying Fox Adventure: Deep in the lush Fijian forest, you’ll fly through the treetops on a network of cables and platforms, far above the forest. This is perfect for the teen who thrives on adventure.
If cruising sounds like something your teen might enjoy, explore the full range of options and plan your next family holiday today!