The 6 Best Cruise Lines for Traveling with Your Teen or Tween

Traveling with teens isn’t always easy. They’re not as easily excited as they were when they were younger and likely have different ideas on what “fun” is compared to you. You might ask your teen what they’d like to do and they’ll just shrug.

As a parent, it’s important that you take into consideration their wants and needs as you plan your next family trip. They’re in their formative years, figuring themselves out, and developing their personal likes and dislikes.

Luckily, today’s cruise ships cater to teens more than ever before.

Youth programming is an area of focus for many cruise lines. The realization that this age group has vastly different needs and wants compared to adults hasn’t gone unnoticed.

From cool clubs to exciting outdoor activities, teens today won’t have any trouble finding something they like aboard a cruise. Each cruise line offers unique programs and activities for their younger passengers. From teens-only clubs and water parks to a special “Shark Week at the Sea,” young travelers can have a blast when at sea.

You’ll want to pick the one that’s just right for you and your teen. Read on for a breakdown of which cruise lines are the best for traveling the seas with teens and how to give your teen a vacation they’ll never forget.

1. Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean’s gigantic ships provide endless fun for teenagers. These floating playgrounds feature rock-climbing walls, miniature golf courses, ice-skating rinks, and basketball courts.

Odyssey of the Seas is packed with exciting teen activities. Offerings like bumper cars, trapeze school, glow-in-the-dark laser tag, and VR bungee jumping are just the beginning.

If your teen wants more of a challenge, they’ll love catching a wave on FlowRider Surfing or taking the iFly skydiving simulator for a spin.

Innovative and immersive entertainment presents itself at Two70, where teens can take in live stage shows. They can also head to the Music Hall for live concerts. Their night can wrap up with the stunning 360-degree views provided by the famous Royal Caribbean North Star pod.

Odyssey, along with Symphony, Allure, Oasis, and Harmony of the Seas, all are excellent options for younger people. Each ship also divides teens into 2 groups with their youth programs. Whether yours falls into the Navigators (12-14) or Teens (15-17), there’s something on the ship for them to enjoy.

2. Carnival Cruises

Carnival’s teen-friendly atmosphere makes it a popular choice among families. High energy and party vibes are enticing to the younger generation. It’s the endless recreation and games that keep them engaged.

Carnival Horizon and Vista’s teen-tastic activities include a ropes course, soccer, volleyball, ping pong, and a miniature golf course outdoors. Inside the SportSquare they’ll find a clubhouse where they can go bowling or shoot a round of pool. There’s also SkyRide, a two-lane suspended racecourse that safely takes teens high above the crystal blue waters.

Like Royal, Carnival also splits teens up for some of their programming. For ages 12-14, there’s Circle “C.” Dance parties, pizza hangouts, movies, karaoke, and game nights are only a few of the activities found there.

For teens aged 15-17, Club 02 is going to be their favorite spot. Many of the same activities found at Circle “C” are also offered here. But, the late-night parties, video games and computers, and soda bars add a little something extra for the older kids.

If your family is full of thrill-seekers, be sure you look into Carnival’s Mardi Gras ship. This is truly the ultimate playground — BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea, serves as the ship’s top deck centerpiece. Teens (and their parents) clamor to experience the 312 feet of twists and turns.

3. Princess Cruises

Princess ships boast activities that tend to cater more to the “traditional” cruiser. Still, they’ve worked in kid and teen programming that’s sure to keep your young traveler entertained.

Their Royal Princess and Regal Princess are both fitting options for teens. The ships’ teen club “Remix” provides activities for kids aged 13-17. The outdoor lounge offers a teens-only wading pool and space for open-sky parties. Indoors, they can jam out with a DJ booth, play foosball and video games, or take a hip-hop dance class.

The ships also include an all-ages sports area. Teenagers can play basketball, volleyball, and ping pong on the lower deck area. On the upper deck, they can challenge one another with bocce, croquet, and lawn bowling.

For the more inquisitive teen, the Emerald Princess is a wonderful ship. Thanks to a partnership with Discovery, young minds can go stargazing and learn about trip destinations from educational speakers. In the summer, “Shark Week at Sea” gives kids a preview of that year’s Shark Week content.

Outside of the fun educational opportunities, the Emerald Princess maintains a rather chilled-out vibe. “The Beach House,” the teen club on the ship, is especially a relaxed area for young people to hang out. This — coupled with the teens-only sun area and hot tub — creates a space for teens to recharge.

4. Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian may be known for offering some stellar adult-focused experiences, but some of their latest innovations are tailor-made for kids and teens. The casual, laid-back atmosphere of their ships is inviting for any age group, but teens, in particular, will appreciate feeling welcomed.

The Norwegian Encore is one of the top picks for families with teenagers. Adults and young people have designated areas, offering activities and relaxation specifically tailored to their interests.

The Entourage Teen Lounge is the place to be for teens ages 13-17. Filled with video games, movies, art, music, and sports, they’ll have plenty to do while they hang out. Hip dance parties and scavenger hunts are hosted by the lounge nightly.

Teens will also enjoy feeling like they’re free-falling by jumping into the Ocean Loops waterslide, a clear tube that dangles over the sea. Go-karts are also available to drive, as well as outdoor laser tag. They can even play with virtual reality in Norwegian’s Galaxy Pavilion.

Other Norwegian ship options that are suitable for teens include Breakaway, Getaway, and Escape. Norwegian’s drinking age is 18 with parental permission. With that said, all kid’s areas are either supervised or have surveillance cameras at all times.

5. Disney Cruise Line

Disney has set the standard for teen programming aboard their ships. Everything about their ship experience is designed with families in mind. From the cabins to the performances on board, young people are the target audience.

While a decent amount of Disney’s cruises are geared towards the little ones, teens and tweens appreciate having their own spaces to cut loose. Disney recognizes that some of the older kids have grown out of Mouseketeering. So you won’t see Mickey or Minnie in these areas.

Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy offer multiple clubs for teens of all ages. Vibe is the hip lounge for kids 14-17. No parents are allowed in this cafe-style spot that serves up soft drinks and smoothies. Overstuffed couches surround big-screen TVs, internet access, and a dance area.

The Edge is a tween’s club for kids ages 11-13. In this area, they can play games and enjoy arts and crafts. They can also watch videos and movies on an 18-foot-long screen. Counselors will even host scavenger hunts and interactive games that promote teamwork and fun.

Disney Magic is another option for kids of all ages, especially those who dream of meeting their favorite Marvel or Star Wars character. Think Comic-Con meets sea travel. Outside of the fandom, teens and tweens can enjoy the same amenities as the other 2 ships.

6. MSC

MSC is a Swiss-Italian cruise line that’s been gaining popularity in the American market. Known for being family-friendly, they have a variety of vessels that appeal to the younger crowds.

Meraviglia is one of their newer ships, with a lineup of exciting activities for teens. They can go for a perfect 300 at the bowling alley, take in a super sensory movie in the 4D cinema, or race a Formula 1 car in a virtual reality setting. When the sun’s ablaze, the ship’s waterpark is the perfect place to cool down.

The fun isn’t over, though! The ship hosts 2 teen clubs, one for ages 12-14 and one for 15-17. No matter their age, they won’t want to pass up the opportunity to see the Cirque du Soleil show.

Virtuosa, another new ship on MSC’s roster, is considered to be a dreamland for artistic teenagers. With a fine arts museum onboard and 2 Cirque du Soleil shows performed nightly, creative minds will definitely appreciate this cruise. Visually, the ship is stunning with a digital LED sky sitting overhead on a 365-foot promenade.

Teen clubs are also open on the Virtuosa. They’ll have abundant opportunities to make new friends at disco parties.

Include the Whole Family on a Cruise

When you’re looking to travel with your family, you want to give them the experience of a lifetime. You want them to remember this trip for years to come.

It can be difficult to account for everyone’s personalities, wants, and needs when looking for your next adventure. This is especially true when you have a teenager. But as cruise lines have proven, your teen will have everything they need on a cruise.

With all the games, live events, water parks, and clubs you may have a new problem on your hands— your teen’s going to be too busy and having too much fun to want to hang out!

Each family is unique, and so is each cruise line. If you’re ready to schedule your next grand family escapade on the sea, now’s the time to set sail.

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