An unhappy teenager, arms crossed and mouth a hardened scowl, is the last thing you need hanging around on your family vacation. Keep the frowns at bay by planning a cruise on a teen-friendly ship. Cruises, many of which offer a wide range of activities for everyone from 2-year-old tots to bingo playin' grandparents, almost always feature something special for older kids and teens. But some ships are more suitable for teens than others. These are our favorite cruise ships for teenagers.

Oasis of the Seas
Man Rock Climbing on Oasis of the Seas; Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

The world's largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas offers all the bells and whistles for passengers of any age -- and teens are certainly no exception. There are two teen centers, divided by age -- 12- to 14-year-olds and the 15-to-17 set. The clubs are equipped with DJ lessons, a juice bar and hip lounges, plus a youth spa with treatments geared toward teens. Ship staff also host fun theme nights and events just for teens, such as karaoke competitions. This is all in addition to a spate of activities the whole family -- including your finicky 15-year-old -- will enjoy, like FlowRider, an onboard surfing simulator; a rock-climbing wall; a zip line; the AquaTheater, with jaw-dropping, water-themed performances; and even a cupcake shop.

Norwegian Breakaway
Entourage Club on Norwegian Breakaway

Launched in 2013, Breakaway is decidedly Norwegian Cruise Line's most innovative ship, and one that will certainly please your teen. In fact, it has the line's biggest youth and teen facilities. On Deck 16 (and conveniently located next to the video arcade), Entourage offers everything teens want: foosball, air hockey, a dance floor, lounge and large screens for video games and movies. The shows on board are top-notch, too, and something the whole family -- teen included -- will enjoy. We recommend "Rock of Ages" and "Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy."

Disney Dream
Teen in Pod at Vibe on Disney Dream

Don't let the name discourage your older kids who think they've outgrown cartoon characters. There's tons that teens will love on Disney Dream, and much of it doesn't even involve Disney. The AquaDuck, for one, is cruising's first "water coaster" at sea. It runs the span of 2.5 football fields with hair-raising twists and turns, even zigzagging over the ocean! Dream's tween club, The Edge, feels grown-up and sophisticated (cool fact: it's located in the ship's funnel), with a massive video wall for gaming. Teens ages 14 and older can enjoy Vibe, which has its own splash pools, lounges and club far removed from adults and little brothers and sisters. Facebook-addicted teens will be ecstatic when they discover the computers with social media apps that allow teens to tweet or post pictures of themselves splashing down the AquaDuck on Facebook.

Carnival Dream
Waterslides on Carnival Dream

Another "dream" for teens is Carnival Dream -- it's as teen-friendly as they come. Carnival wisely created two separate clubs for teens on board Dream: a special tween-only club for 12- to 14-year-olds, called Circle C, plus Club 02, a hang-out for older teens, ages 15 to 17. Circle C boasts a dance floor and movie screenings, while Club 02 kicks the sophistication up a notch with its own dedicated DJ and a cheeky soda bar.

For spa-going teens, Carnival's fleet-wide youth spa is tops. Treatments include Surfer's Scrub, a sea salt body scrub that incorporates seaweed and mint, and Y Care for Your Hair, a conditioning hair treatment with a French braid styling session.

Ruby Princess
Explorers Lounge on Ruby Princess

Older kids who aren't into typical teen stuff like video games and dance clubs may be interested in Princess Cruise Line's fleet-wide ScholarShip@Sea program. Various enrichment sessions are offered on board each Princess sailing, from pottery classes to cooking demonstrations. As many as 40 classes may be available on every Princess cruise. On Ruby Princess, teens will also find Nintendo Wii and Sony Play Station 3 in the well-appointed teen center, Remix (for kids ages 15 to 17). Princess Links, an on board mini-golf course, is a fun diversion for teens (or even the whole family), as well as Movies Under the Stars, during which films are shown beneath the night sky.

Freedom of the Seas
Girl Zip-Lining on Oasis of the Seas Docked in Caribbean

Freedom is one of Royal Caribbean's Freedom-class ships, all of which have been built with kids and teens -- and parents -- in mind. The ships have two teen clubs (one for younger teens and one for older teens) and a youth spa for the young adults on board -- but one interesting perk is a special teens-only fitness area in the gym. Our favorite attraction for teens on Freedom and other Freedom-class ships? It's the ice-skating rink, which, really, is great for the entire family. We also love the ship's giant arcade video game area, and the Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop in the promenade.

Ventura
Fireworks on Ventura Ship

British cruise line P&O Cruises had families in mind when it created Ventura. The ship boasts the fleet's first-ever family cabins, plus the cruise line's biggest kids' club (which includes a separate teen section for kids ages 13 to 17, called H2O). Some out-of-the-box features for teens on Ventura include a bungee trampoline, a rock music school and teen-only talent shows. Another awesome activity for teens -- and really, for any adult with a young-at-heart spirit -- is the Cirque circus school. Cirque features workshops in which passengers can learn to trapeze and tightrope walk. This makes for some wild vacation photos.

Royal Clipper
Royal Clipper at Sea

Star Clippers is a smaller luxury cruise line comprised of three majestic masted ships, of which Royal Clipper is the largest. Any teens with the slightest interest in pirates, ships or sailing will swoon at Royal Clipper's romantic sail-away, during which 42 billowing sails are unfurled to the sound of symphony music. Teens are permitted to climb the ship's crow's nest to watch the ceremony from the highest point on the ship. Clipper is also a haven for teens or anyone else addicted to water sports. There's a platform that lowers from the ship from which passengers can snorkel or dive. Keep in mind that Royal Clipper isn't popular with families with young children (none of the Star Clipper ships are, for that matter); families are not advised to bring children under the age of 8.

Carnival Splendor
Circle C on Carnival Cruise Line

The massive Carnival Splendor lures teens with zany attractions and activities that are sure to please even the pickiest youths. A 3-deck high waterslide, a huge seaside theater, a mini-golf course and even singing Maitre D's can be found on board Splendor. If your teen pretty much lives in a swimming pool, Splendor is a good choice, as its pool is covered with a retractable sky dome and is open no matter what the weather. Splendor offers the same top-notch teen clubs as the aforementioned Dream, which are divided into two age groups. From dance classes to late-night movies to smoothie tastings, both teen clubs have plenty to offer the 12- to 17-year-old set.

Disney Fantasy
Teens Hanging Out at Vibe on Disney Fantasy

Nearly identical to Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy also offers AquaDuck, as well as Goofy's Sports Deck, where teens enjoy mini-golf, basketball and virtual sports simulators. Vibe is also available on Disney Fantasy, and teens get to participate in ghost tours, perform in plays, relax in dim-lit, personal pods or swim in a pool of their own. No matter their age, teens, along with their families, will like "Disney's Aladdin -- A Musical Spectacular," too.

More From Family Vacation Critic
10 Best Resorts for Teens
12 Tech Attractions for Teens

Written by Caroline Costello


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