There's a lot about cruises that appeal to families: With planned activities day and night, parents can unwind however they like while kids do their own thing. Of course, younger children need organization and supervision, but for teens, a more unstructured social experience is the perfect fit. These days, cruise lines are embracing this demographic and have created different experiences for young adults onboard. These three cruise lines are stand-outs among the pack.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival offers two different programs for teens: Circle C for 12- to 14-year-olds, and Club O2 for 15- to 17-year-olds. Carnival reports the line now carries 700,000 kids a year, the most of any cruise line and double Carnival's numbers from a decade ago. The teen programs are supervised but unstructured, allowing teens to choose their own activities and schedule. Circle C offers a wide range of activities such as scavenger hunts, parties, karaoke, a disco, video games, and more. The teen-only lounges boast soda bars that give these guests a space to call their own.
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Princess boasts its Remix teen programming on every ship in its fleet, but Royal Princess and Regal Princess, the newest ships in the fleet, offer the largest and most extensive programs. On these two ships, the robust teen offerings feature a Princess DJ booth loaded with cutting-edge tracks and a lounge area perfect for meeting new friends. The outdoor lounge offers club-style lighting, contemporary seating, and a wading pool under the stars. Teens can compete in sports competitions, watch late-night movies, take hip hop dance classes, and try their skill in a video-game tournament. Movies and parties keep teens entertained, so there's time for parents to enjoy their evenings in peace. (The teen lounge is open until 1 am nightly.) During peak family travel weeks, when the most teens are on board, there is additional programming and holiday-focused activities.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian's mantra is “freestyle cruising” and the line's teen zone, Entourage, for ages 13-17, follows the same motto. Younger passengers can enjoy an arcade, air hockey table, foosball, and a hip lounge area. In the evening, Entourage transitions into a teens-only nightclub with a dance floor, music, and a large-screen TV, with different themed parties daily. Larger ships in the fleet (Norwegian Epic, Breakaway, and Getaway) even have three specially trained counselors who cater to teens' interests.
Erica Lamberg is business and travel writer based in suburban Philadelphia. Married with a son and daughter, she enjoys traveling with her family. In addition to Fodor's, her works has appeared in Gannett New Jersey, Bankrate.com, Cruise Critic, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Huffington Post, and Family Vacation Critic.