Going on a cruise is a fun way to travel. But have you ever gone on a cruise with teens? It can be tricky to find a vacation style that is making everyone happy when you are traveling with teenagers. I have taken my two teen nieces on cruises and want to share some tips with you before you go. I am also letting one of my nieces speak for herself and let her tell you what she liked about her Greek Island Cruise with Celestyal Cruises.
Many destinations cater either to kids or adults and teenagers often get overlooked. I personally think that cruises are one of the best ways for families with teenagers to travel together and here is why:
- You can give them more freedom and let them do things independently as they can’t get lost
- Many cruise lines will treat teenagers like adults
- Visiting various ports of call will satisfy different interests that family members have
- Lots of things to do on the ship and in each port
Tip 1: Find an Interesting Cruise Itinerary
Find a cruise itinerary that is interesting for everyone in the family. Cruises make it easy to come up with an itinerary that suits everyone’s interests. If your teenagers are old and responsible enough, you could let them go on a shore excursion independently.
If not, or if you don’t feel comfortable enough, you can at least create a mix of activities that will make everyone happy. One stop, you do a beach day, the next day, you visit a museum, church, or historical site, followed by an ATV or kayaking adventure (read more about how much my niece loved it further down) and maybe a food tour at the next port of call?
My niece and I loved our Idyllic Aegean Greek island cruise itinerary and it was a good mix of activities. We did two foodie excursions (Thessaloniki and Mykonos), wine tasting in Santorini, a tour of the UNESCO Heritage site in Ephesus, a countryside tour in Crete, and a kayaking tour in Milos. After each tour, we still had plenty of time to explore on our own, go shopping, eat, drink, and enjoy the destination.
Tip 2: Don’t Sit On Top Of Each Other
A cruise is a perfect vacation style to give a little more freedom to your teenager(s) and let them experience a little more independence. If they have no interest in sitting through a 2.5-hour multi-course dinner or the entertainment show every night, let them grab a bite at the buffet and chill for a bit instead.
Going on a family cruise, it is a bit easier for your teen to do things independently and according to their own interests and preferences than on an independently organized trip. And you as a parent still know that they can’t get into too much trouble, since they are on a ship and can’t go very far, ha.
Tip 3: Let Them Bring Their Own Entertainment Or Get WIFI
No matter how many cool entertainment options the cruise ship might have, many teenagers also need some chill time to rest and process all the experiences travel brings. My niece enjoyed reading (she is not into video games, but that would have been a good alternative too) and we also had unlimited WIFI, so she could chat with her friends back home, share photos, text, and scroll through her Social Media accounts.
This downtime gave her some time to connect with her friends, soak up and process all the new experiences and simply relax for a bit.
Getting your teenager at least a small WIFI package might be expensive, but is also offers a level of protection and safety, so they can reach out to you when things don’t go as planned and they need to get in touch with you, or you with them.
Tip 4: Involve Your Teenager In The Planning Of The Cruise
Hold a couple of family meetings before the cruise and get their input on what they want to do. Let them make some of the decisions and take their input into account when you plan your cruise. They are much more likely to “endure” your day trip to the ruins of Ephesus without complaining if they know that there is an off-road ATV adventure planned for the next day.
Remember that this should be a vacation for everyone. And we all know: If a teenager is not happy, the rest of the family won’t be happy either.
Tip 5: Set Clear Rules
Many cruise lines treat teenagers like adults. Celestyal treats everyone over 13 as an adult and since my niece is 14, she could partake in any and all activities and except the Casino, which was 18+. She could roam the ship freely and even participate in adult-focused excursions like our wine-tasting in Santorini.
Depending on your cruise line, your personal beliefs, the laws of the countries you visit and if they differ from your home country (and the strictness of enforcement or lack thereof), you might want to have a conversation with your teenager before the cruise to set clear expectations. What exactly are your rules to navigate these murky waters of what is ok for your teenager to do or not do while on the cruise?
Tip 6: Let Them Connect With Other Teens
Let’s be brutally honest: Teenagers don’t really want to be with their parents or hang out with other adults. So a great way for your teenager to enjoy their cruise more is to connect them with other teenagers and let them have fun.
One way could be to cruise with another family or two that have kids the same age as your teens and in a best-case scenario, already are friends. Another option, if your budget permits, is to allow your kid to bring a friend. If all else fails, see if there are other teens on board and see if you can play Matchmaker (in an unobtrusive and non-embarrassing way, of course).
Cruising with a Teenager: How My Niece Liked Her First Cruise
I thought you might want to hear directly from a teenager how she like her first cruise, so I decided to interview my 14-year-old niece. Here is what she said:
Did you have fun on your first Cruise and would you do it again? Was there enough fun stuff to do for a teenager?
I had a lot of fun on this cruise it was also my first cruise. I didn’t think that it would be so much fun.
I will definitely do that again. I really enjoyed the evening entertainment. The shows were really cool and interesting.
What was your favorite about the Cruise onboard and why?
Dinner because you could try many different dishes. For example, I don’t really like fish/ seafood but I try some dishes with fish and these were really good.
What was your favorite excursion (or two) during our Greek Island Cruise and why?
On the last day, we went kayaking. It was in Milos and the water was really beautiful. And my second favorite is the Thessaloniki food tour. The food was really tasty but some were too sweet. We had to walk a little bit between the different restaurants which was really good.
What other Celestyal cruises would you like to try and why?
I would like to do the 3 continent cruise because it has a sea day and visits more countries. I really liked being on the ship and I wanna learn more about the different cultures.
I loved taking my niece on a cruise and I think we both had a lot of fun, did things we both enjoyed and relaxed a little as well. If you are thinking about cruising with your teen, I can only recommend it.