An unhappy teenager is the last thing you need hanging around on your family vacation. But you can 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 — especially nowadays. Of course, some ships are more suitable for teens than others. These are the best cruises for teens.
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.
It's an exciting time to sail with MSC. The cruise line recently announced a private island in the Bahamas and the upcoming addition of LEGO-themed playrooms on select vessels. In 2017, select ships will also feature shows by Cirque du Soleil.
Want to cruise on MSC? MSC Divina is an excellent choice for families with teens, who enjoy Y-Team for ages 12 to 14 and MSC Generation Teen Club for those ages 15 to 17. Activities include sports tournaments, dance-offs, karaoke and more. Plus, the ship features the Formula 1 Simulator -- teens will feel like race car drivers in this unique experience! They'll also like the virtual roller coaster in the 4D movie theater.
Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas has redefined what it means to cruise, particularly for families, and even more so for families with teens. One of the newest mega-ships to hit the high seas, Anthem features a SeaPlex, with bumper cars, roller-skating and even a trapeze; RipCord by iFLY, a flight simulator; FlowRider, a surf simulator; and the North Star, an observation capsule that rises high above the ship. And those activities don't even include the Scratch DJ Academy, open mic/karaoke events, parties and night clubs just for teens. The high-speed Wi-Fi is a hit with teens, too.
Carnival Sunshine features a ropes course (Sky Course) atop the ship (talk about an adrenaline rush), water park, video arcade, mini-golf and sports complex... and that's just the beginning. Other fun for teens includes Circle C for the 12- to 14-year-olds and Club O2 for ages 15 to 17. Activities include video games, karaoke, and teen-only parties.
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 -- teens included -- will enjoy. We recommend "Rock of Ages" and "Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy."
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 zig-zagging 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. And social media-addicted teens will be ecstatic when they discover the computers that allow them to post pictures of themselves splashing down the AquaDuck.
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 O2, a hang-out for older teens, ages 15 to 17. Circle C boasts a dance floor and movie screenings, while Club O2 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.
The world's second largest cruise ship (behind Allure of the Seas), 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.
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 onboard 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.
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 onboard 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.