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How Parents Can Trick Their Teens Into Going on a Cruise Vacation

Even the most stubborn of teenagers can’t resist these perks.


have a 13-year-old daughter who loves hanging out with her friends, making TikTok videos, and avoiding her parents at all costs. So, when I suggested that we take a cruise together, just the two of us, she was skeptical. Soon, the questions rolled in: How good is the Wi-Fi? Can I bring a friend? Do we have to share a bed? My answers? Not sure, no, and no. Still, she agreed to hop aboard the Discovery Princess ship to Alaska and, defying all odds, my picky 13-year-old Anya loved it. If, like me, you’re a parent eager to spend time with your teen, here’s a few ways to entice them into a sharing a cruise together.

Food Is Available 24/7

Sure, we have food available at home around the clock, but who wants a home-cooked meal? My daughter was obsessed with the idea that she could sneak down to the 24-hour coffee shop in the middle of the night while I was sleeping (no permission needed from an adult) or whenever she had a craving for a butter pecan latte. Unlike at home, where she has to beg me every time she craves a frilly Starbucks coffee drink, she could enjoy an unlimited drinks package on the ship.

There Are Games and Prizes to Be Had

Just about every hour on the hour, there were games for us to play, and we participated in all of them. We did a scavenger hunt, we did a quiz show game to see how well we knew each other, we did countless trivia games, and we played a Princess’ version of Pictionary. When else can you play all day with live hosts and eager audiences? This was our favorite thing to do aboard the ship, and we came home with pretty cool loot: some Princess re-usable water bottles and medals. Together, we also enjoyed the onboard Bingo games. Huddled over a Bingo card, whispering together, plotting, and begging the Gods of Bingo to call our numbers—this was the excitement we both needed. Spoiler alert: we didn’t win, but the fun was worth it.

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There’s a Teen Zone

Princess Cruises

Like most large cruise lines, Princess has a special area for teens. On the first night, the teens were drawn together like magnets, and they met in the teen zone to play video games together, dance, drink mocktails, listen to music, and run around like crazy. It was their safe space, and they loved it.

INSIDER TIPMake sure your teen goes there on the first day, as that’s when friendships form and stay for the entire cruise.

There Are Mocktails for Teens to Enjoy

Perhaps it’s because mocktails are trending or because Princess attracts many teens and tweens, but there is an extensive list of mocktails for underage passengers to order. My daughter’s favorite was the dirty virgin banana, which tasted like a chocolate-banana ice-cream shake.

The Teen Facial

My daughter entered the cruise straight off a 4-week sleepaway camp stay where I’m not sure she ever washed her face (or body). It wasn’t a good look. So, on the first sea day, I booked her the teen facial, complete with extractions. Fifty minutes later, she was a new person.

Room Service

My daughter loves ordering in, but room service brings it up a notch or 12. On Princess, room service was free, so she took advantage. One time, she even ordered a slice of key lime pie to be delivered to the room. She ate it luxuriously in bed because she could do it on the cruise, and there’s no way anyone would deliver her a slice of pie to be devoured in bed at home.

Teens Can Enjoy Freedom

Anya was welcome to wander the ship whenever she wanted, wherever she wanted, without my supervision. The Wi-Fi wasn’t wonderful, so I initially worried I’d never find her again, but since everyone on the ship wears medallions around their necks, which act as a sort of GPS locator, I could find her via her medallion. Not that I ever needed to find her. She found her friends, her food, and her activities on her own while I enjoyed a little alone time.

Movies Under the Stars

Is there anything better than watching a movie from the comfort of a pool or a hot tub? My teen didn’t think so. Whenever she spotted “Movies under the stars,” she planted herself in her favorite pool, grabbed a Virgin Dirty Banana, and settled in. Sometimes, she supplemented her mocktail with a hot dog and cheese fries—what a time to be alive.