first cruise, with 2 teenagers

Old Jan 3rd, 2003, 10:03 PM
Paul Therault
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Kids should have a great time on any ship. My kids would rather cruise than go to Disney World. If they are bored it is their own fault.

If parents would stay up until 3 or 4AM they would see what goes on on many cruise lines. I do. Do you?? I also have many conversations with the security staff. Most parents do not care. They do not want to hear what their teens ar doing since it is their vacation also and they do not want to be bothered. I have sailed both the Voyager and Explorer and I know what goes on. No one can tell me different. To prove me right just go into the disco at 2AM, sit down, buy a coke and look around for half an hour.

In any event I am sure you will believe what you want. I am just telling you to be observant. Better safe than sorry since you will be the first ones to sue the cruise line.


Old Jan 4th, 2003, 09:34 AM
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Paul - your kids are fifty years old! Disney World wasn't even in existence when your kids were "kids"!

As for your observations on the Explorer and Voyager - the one thing I'll guarentee you is that you won't see anyone's teens whose parents have raised them right and care enough to monitor their whereabouts. And none of those caring parent's teens will be seen around the ship at 3 or 4am - gaurenteed!!!!!

Once again, its not the ship - its the parents that matter.
Old Jan 4th, 2003, 03:40 PM
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Hello from one Catherine to another!

Catherine, sounds like you have a pretty terrific daughter! I teach that age group and she sounds like an intellegent and sensible girl. I don't think that she will get into trouble and I am sure that you will caution her.

Typically on cruises, teens usually meet with other teens and hang out. Usually the older teens are the ones hanging out in the discos and "pushing the envelope". I have seen teens drinking but I have also seen many teens on cruises just hanging out and having a good time, and not getting drunk or getting in trouble. I only cruise in the summer so I see lots of teen behavior. Teens with a good head on their shoulder and strong sense of self worth tend not to hang out and get drunk.

I would try the cruise. I would, however, wait till you had time for a 7 day cruise and go on that. Shorter cruises tend to be more of the party atmospher you don't want.

I am an independent traveler and have done many land based trips all over . I spent 3 weeks in Europe last summer by myself on a trip I planned by myself and had a glorious time. I couldn't see myself following the tour group leader like a lemming and it was great to experience Europe and meet local people.

I have sailed on many cruises as well. I look at a cruise as an inexpensive means to island hop, since I love the Caribbean and I am a snorkel and beach fanatic. I have no trouble finding peace and quiet on the ship since there are many places to "hide" on the giant mega ships now. I have sailed on the Voyager of the Seas twice and it is a great ship in terms of activities. I loved the excercise classes, the rock climbing wall, they have a very nice ice skating show and they open the ice rink for kids to skate - call them to get the specifics on whether you need your own skates or not. The Western Caribbean itin will be very interesting for your daughter - lots of great snorkeling opportunities, especially at Stingray City.

In terms of food and entertainment, don't expect gourmet dining. If it were just you and your husband, I would recommend Celebrity in a heartbeat. But I have had friends who loved the Celebrity ship, but their kids were bored. As far as the Voyager,the food is good, but not great. There are some "cheesy" aspects to the cruise, such as some cruise person will be around seemingly everywhere you turn to take you picture when you get off the boat, when you get on the boat, etc.

As an independent traveler, I look at the entertainment not as "cheesy" but as "campy" - from the hairy chest contest to the conga lines. Look at your cruise as a chance to explore a particular aspect of American pop culture, relax and go with the flow. And realize you can always find a quiet spot to simply enjoy yourself. Definitely do your own shore excursions - this is the part of my cruise I enjoy the most.

So, to summarize my advice, I would do a 7 day cruise when you have the time available. Maybe do another short trip for your 5 days in March. When you do your 7 day cruise, the Voyager would be a good ship in terms of activities.
Old Jan 4th, 2003, 03:57 PM
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I took two 14 year olds on HAL Amsterdam and they had a great time. They have come along way in the past few years and have a much younger crowd than when I first sailed on HAL about 15 years ago. Like you, I wanted relaxation, good food, good wine etc. It was an excellent choice for us. (wife and I are both in our mid 40's)
Old Jan 4th, 2003, 06:55 PM
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Took our kids, then 10 and 14 on a cruise in Alaska two years ago. The younger didn't mind being in the kids program and made some friends quickly. The 14 year old, however, was put into the "teen" program that ranged from 14 to 17 years old. What bothered us was that their "program" didn't BEGIN until 10 pm. and went until 2 am. While that might be allowable for the 17 year olds, we, as parents of one of the younger kids in the program, didn't like the age span, especially because of the maturity levels within that age group. There was a girl who was already in college (bright girl, who entered early) and then ours who just graduated 8th grade. Talk about an age span.
The group would "hang" out together in the hallways and around the pools, but weren't allowed into the teen club/disco area until after the littler kids were I said, not until 10 pm. The counselors pretty much left them on their own too because they wanted them to feel "independent." They had a few contests and things, like a scavenger hunt for them, and a "whose the hottest girl/guy" contest and such, but we didn't like the idea of the mix and thought the cruise line should have broken the group into a younger and older teen group, such as 14-15s or 14-16s or 16-17s or 17 and above. (I don't recall if the program went up to 18 year olds.)
So parents beware and know your kids if you cruise with them.
Old Jan 4th, 2003, 11:17 PM
Paul Therault
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I am sure Catherine's daughter is adult oriented and would stay with her parents if the children's program is not for her. She would also have her friend to be with and they could choose what they wished to do every day.

I am pleased to hear one poster that praises the HAL program. Hopefully we will hear from Celebrity passengers about their wonderful program. Overactive kids just may be bored but they are in the minority.

Hopefully Catherine will change her mind about cruising and will add a couple of days to her 5-day schedule.

Old Jan 5th, 2003, 08:23 AM
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Changing your tune, again, to suit the audience; eh, Paul?

catherine - after all the good advice - I'd try the Monarch for the 5 days and treat it like a "sampler" to see if you like cruising. The experience you get won't be as complete as you'd get on a 7-day larger, newer ship experience; but it will give you a taste to see if cruising is for you and your family.
Old Jan 5th, 2003, 10:52 AM
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Thanks to all for the information. Great input, but we're still chewing on all this... It is not all that easy to find a cruise for the very specific 5 days we have available. Wish we had a few more days to play with.

And then, I'm not sure I can envision us at a "hairy chest contest" or a "hottest guy/gal contest" (and we'd not be forerunners in either contest!). Surely there are alternatives? How intense is the feeling of being in a crowd or in lines?

Good food would be a necessity also. Anyone ever feel clausotophobic (sp?) or "stuck" while on a cruise?
Old Jan 5th, 2003, 01:30 PM
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I understand your fear of being "stuck". Personally I have never felt stuck becuase I use cruise vacation to unwind and get away from everything. It's sorta like a retreat on a ship. Although most ships offer many things to do from internet cafes to casinos, etc., I usually love doing very little on the boat. My typical sea day consists of getting up, having a great workout, showering, eating breakfast and then spending the day reading, looking at the ocean, napping, taking a spa treatment, having conversations with friends and/or family that have traveled with me and enjoying the fact that these conversations are relaxed and not interupped by the usual day to day interuptions.

My shore days are spent relaxing at the beach, looking for unique island arts and crafts and spices, and snorkeling as much as I can. I almost always plan my own excursions and have had great experiences with meeting the islanders and enjoying authentic island food and cultures. You have probably done similarly while traveling in Asia.

Just like any vacation, you can do as little or as much as you want to do. Although I usually like to do my own thing, I have danced in conga lines and other "silly" cruise things because I needed to relax and be silly! I go with no particular expectations except to relax and I usually have a very good time.

In terms of lines, you will encounter these on most major cruise line when embarking and disembarking and with some buffets. I usually avoid excessive lines by going early or at an off time. On a cruise you are not constantly waiting in line like you would be at Disneyworld, only for certain things and good timing can help you avoid or minimize the lines.

In terms of food, I have eaten at some of the finest restaurants around the world from Paris to San Francisco to Australia,etc. I live in Louisiana and regularly eat at great restaurants such as Emeril Lagasse's NOLA and K-Paul's (Paul Prudhomme of blackened redfish fame). I consider myself a "foodie" and for the most part have been pleased with cruise ship fare. No, it is not always gourmet quality, but it is not swill either. Breakfast and Lunch are typically massive buffets with lots of offerings to please a wide variety of palates. You can have a omelet made to order before your eyes and a wide variety of ethnic cusines are offered. Dinner is typically in courses with and tend to be things such as Vichyssoise and escargot for appetizers and herb encrusted sea bass, lobster, etc.

One thing I suggest is to involve your daughter in the planning of the cruise. What kind of activities would she and her friend like to do on a sea day? WHat would she like to do in port? She could even plan shore activities for the various ports of call which would be a great learning activity.

Another great resource is the web site If you go to the section "Boards" there are sections for each of the cruise lines and there are hundreds of cruisers who can give you even more information on what the ships are like, what the food is like, and what the teen program is like. Compare responses for the Voyager class ships to those of HAL, Princess and Celebrity.

One other request, please let us know what you do decide. I am curious to know what you decide, whether you decide to cruise or not. If you do decide to cruise, I hope it is a 7 day, because these tend to be less party oriented than shorter cruises.

Old Jan 6th, 2003, 07:54 AM
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I have taken my son on the Voyager when he was 13. He loved it. Lots of "stuff" to keep him entertained HOWEVER, last year we sailed Celebrity's Galaxy and he still describes it as the best cruise ever. He loved the teen program, he liked the club director and the kids. The ship was small enough and the group was managable in size that he was able to meet a lot of kids and yet not have to contend with meeting 800 kids. Of course, cruising on school vacation with any cruise line, there will be kids. When the kids are in school, it doesn't matter how wonderful the kids program is, there have to be kids to have a program. We would sail on Celebrity again in a minute. This year four of us are going on the Explorer since my older son and husband haven't been on a mega ship before.
Old Jan 6th, 2003, 11:38 AM
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Hi Catherine. I was reading this with interest as my son was invited to go on a cruise with his cousin (they are 16) and I am also looking for the best option. However, I can tell you that when my husband and I take our kids on vacation, we never consider a cruise. Instead we choose a beautiful resort where we can spend a few quiet days on a beautiful island--the kids have a great time--even if there are few other kids around. I'd be glad to give you some of the ideas we have.--this year we are doing St. John, last year we went to Turks and Caicos--so that is an alternative.
Old Jan 6th, 2003, 05:22 PM
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Okay, here's my take..wde have taken our teens and they both had a great time. You must trust them, and check on them from time to time. I often went to the teen center and asked "where is Mark, and where is Angela". If the supervisors didn't know, then I'd go looking for them, with the understanding they be back in their cabin by midnight. You got to treat them like you trust them,but be sure they understand that you are ging to inforce some rules. Anyway, by the time they are teens you have either done your job or not--teaching them right from wrong,that is. Why not give Princess a try. That was our choice and it turned out to be swell, all around. The kids said they had never had such a good time, and said they 'would never forget it'. I am glad that we could give them a wonderful memory.
Old Jan 6th, 2003, 07:12 PM
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A ton of thanks to all posters - the information/opinions, while often conflicting, are welcomed, interesting and bring up many more questions!!

In the end, it has been very difficult in finding a cruise that fit into our very constrained vacation time - let alone our "style of travel." Ended up booking a week at a resort in Captiva, FL (we've stayed there several times before - teens should have a good time). This will also allow us (my daughter, her friend and me) a full week. The hubby will meet us there.

I think we will end up taking a cruise at some point - just to justify all the research I've done...

Will keep reading here, and I'm sure we'll find the perfect cruise for us. Y'all are great with the advice, thanks!
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