If you’re planning a family vacation, you’re probably considering a cruise. After all, their all-inclusive options and kid-friendly environments make it an easy way to enjoy a getaway. But what about the teens in your group? Today we’re talking all about the best cruise lines for teens so that you can plan a vacation the whole family is sure to enjoy.
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Best Cruise Lines for Teens They Are Sure to Love!
Teens can have an absolutely fantastic time on cruises, but you’ll need to make sure you’re booking ones with plenty of fun activities for them. It’s a tricky balance for many teens, since they’ll be repelled by overly cheesy programs but possibly bored with the adults-centered offerings.
However, the right ones can be a teen’s paradise, granting them a safe way to explore independently while getting in just enough quality time with the rest of the family.
That’s why we’ve gathered the best cruise lines for teens. Read on to discover our top picks that are perfect for your entire family.
1. Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean is one of the most famous cruise lines, and it’s known for having some of the biggest and most intricate ships out there. But what will your teen think of their time at sea with Royal Caribbean Cruises?
Let’s start with its most notable feature: the water slides. Royal Caribbean ships have thrilling water slides and pools that most teens will love. Plus, there is a special teen club that is separated by small age groups. Older teens and preteens will have daily activities catered just for them.
In the Teen Club, they can participate in dance parties, scavenger hunts, and video games. Who knows? They may even make new friends.
But Royal Caribbean’s newest ship is what will really wow your teen. Icon of the Seas just launched last month with the largest waterpark at sea and the first suspended infinity pool at sea.
Daring teens can try the freefalling water slide at Thrill Island, or the entire family can enjoy a show in their massive AquaTheater. This is the largest cruise ship in the world, so kids of all ages will be impressed by its size and activities.
Royal Caribbean offers destination itineraries around the world. It’s the perfect balance of relaxation and adventure.
Disney often gets the reputation for being for younger children (and infamous “Disney Adults”), but Disney Cruise Line is one of our top picks for teens.
“Vibe” is our number-one reason for loving Disney cruises so much. This lounge is exclusively for ages 14-17 and is staffed with great counselors who run a range of relaxed and engaging activities. Here you’ll find huge video screens, a private pool, foosball tables, and a smoothie bar.
The Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, and Disney Magic ships all have teen spas on board, which is one of the most unique things we’ve seen on family vacations.
Your teen will enjoy their independence on board the Disney Cruise, but you can all come back together in the evening to enjoy dinner and all-ages entertainment. Disney knows how to create engaging productions, so the nightly live shows are be a real treat.
Off-ship, you can enjoy tropical activities like snorkeling as a family or send them off to the teen camp where counselors will show them the best of your destination.
Norwegian is another great cruise line with teen-centric activities. These group programs will entertain your teens all day while you enjoy blissful relaxation (you earned it!).
Select ships feature laser tag courses, escape rooms, go-kart tracks, and teen lounges. Many of these activities come at an extra cost, so you can do a little number-crunching to see how they compare with more all-inclusive ships. Even at a higher price, your family may find that the Norwegian experience is a perfect vacation.
The teen lounge is super relaxed and allows older children to come and go as they please. For fun-in-the-sun, the Norwegian Bliss ship has multiple waterslides, a water obstacle course, and rows of lounge chairs.
One of our favorite things about Norwegian Cruise Line is their Broadway-caliber productions that are pitch-perfect entertainment for teens.
Have you ever heard of UnCruise? This line of small cruise ships feels like a hidden gem amid a sea of mega vessels. Depending on the season, you can sail various routes in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Pacific, including a great Alaska Cruise that teens will love.
UnCruise ships hold anywhere from 20 to 85 passengers, so this is a huge difference from the other options on our best cruise lines for teens list. And the ships’ smaller sizes mean they can access places others can’t.
It also means you’ll actually spend a lot of time with your teen during your cruise. Guided adventures are perfect for families with older kids. Kayaking excursions, hikes, and snorkeling are just some of the things you can look forward to.
Meals are inventive and thoughtful, time on board is relaxed, and the sightseeing is unbeatable. You can learn more about UnCruise adventure cruises here. Although they don’t have the non-stop teen clubs and wild water parks of other cruises, the one-of-a-kind experience will become a core memory for you and your teen.
UnCruise is also one of the best cruises for college-age kids, as their bespoke experiences are perfect for young adults.
Carnival Cruise Line draws a lot of budget travelers who want a fun family vacation. But they’re not just known for their (relatively) lower costs. Carnival ships offers a party atmosphere that’s perfect for teens.
Probably their best ship for teens is the Carnival Mardis Gras, which has a rollercoaster. If that alone isn’t enough to get your teens “on board,” how about a huge arcade, loads of food, and (on select ships) a trampoline park?
Nightly entertainment is more of your standard cruise-ship fare, but it’s well done and should be engaging for the entire family. Routes can take you through the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, or international destinations.
And with regular sales and various booking options, you’ll be able to find a cruise that fits your wallet and your family’s vacation style.
Celebrity Cruise Line most often caters to an older crowd, but it’s still a lot of fun for teens – especially if you’re looking for a nice balance between family time and at-sea thrills.
On Celebrity ships, teens get an all-star treatment with pool parties, an exclusive lounge, and game tournaments. When it’s time to come together as a family, you’ll be treated to great food and top-notch service.
Celibrity’s spa menu has special services for 13-17 year olds, plus side-by-side treatments for a parent-kid spa day.
We also like how Celebrity offers immersive sightseeing programs at their destinations. Your entire family can join small group walking tours through Europe, treetop expeditions in Costa Rica, and wildlife viewing in remote locales.
7. Princess Cruises
With fewer high-octane thrills, Princess Cruises are ideal for simple pleasures. We’re thinking pool-side lounging, great dining options, classic group games, and sports activities.
But this is the perfect place for teens who may not be into giant water slides and over-the-top amenities. Many ships have a “Rock the Boat” party, video game tournaments, movies, and even dance classes.
If your family is seeking bigger thrills, their newest ship, Sun Princess, has a hang-gliding experience, an obstacle course, and a glistening new teens lounge with a dance floor and video games.
We also recommend Princess Cruises if you are planning group travel with older family members. There are plenty of places to find peace and quiet, lounge with a good book, or sit back and watch the kids play.
8. MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises are a great budget-friendly option for family travel, as they offer great sales where kids cruise for free.
But it’s not a “cheap” experience. Sure, it’s not as flashy as the huge vessels with waterparks and roller coasters, but family members of all ages will have a great time on MSC Cruise Ships. There are pools, fantastic food, family entertainment, and themed decor.
MSC departs from Miami and New York, and they offer fun destinations like the Mediterranean and Bahamas. Their short cruises are an excellent option for families who want fun at sea but are short on time.
9. Lindblad Expeditions
True adventurers will love Lindblad Expeditions, which partners with National Geographic to offer immersive, nature-centered excursions the entire family will love. With fewer than 200 passengers on board, these cruises are super personal and hands-on.
Teens can become National Geographic Global Explorers at some of the most awe-inspiring destinations, like Alaska and the Galapagos. Field educators will guide you through the expeditions and even offer photography courses for future Nat Geo photographers.
You won’t find your typical cruise ship on-board entertainment, and your teen may miss constant wi-fi access. However, there is complimentary Starlink-enabled wi-fi available for all guests as well as internet packages available for purchase (with the exception of the Delfin II ship).
We think the complimentary wi-fi will cover their basic needs, but once they’re immersed in these incredible locations, they’ll soon forget their phones even exist. Plus, you and your teen can thoroughly enjoy all of the outdoor activities, so it’s great for family bonding.
10. AmaWaterways & Adventures by Disney
If you love Disney’s unique experiences but want a more authentic on-the-ground vacation, then their partnership with AmaWaterways will be perfect.
Adventures by Disney offers various river cruises through Europe – a great option for families wanting to see Europe in comfort while knowing the little details are all taken care of.
Adventure guides will take you on off-ship excursions, like farm tours, ziplining, castle tours, and bike excursions. Or, opt for one of their winter cruises that include stops at Europe’s famous Christmas Markets.
The ship will sail by night, giving you and your family a sufficient amount of time to explore various destinations. It’s great family bonding, but your teen can still have some independence on board as they enjoy karaoke, movie nights, and exclusive dinners for young guests. All of this is done with a touch of Disney magic that is perfect for families.