As children grow older and family dynamics change, it isn’t easy to find a vacation that appeals to all ages. Teens don’t always want to spend time with mom and dad, and sometimes it’s the other way around. Thankfully, a Disney Cruise is the best of both worlds. A Disney Cruise with teens offers a healthy balance of family time and independence, leaving everyone happy.
*We enjoyed a cruise on the Disney Dream as part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. All of these opinions are 100% my own.
We recently spent three days on the Disney Dream and our kids loved. Both our teen and tween did not want to leave the ship (ever), and they made new friends they now want to travel with everywhere we go. My husband and myself enjoyed some fun moments without kids at the adult pool and margarita making class. Every evening we came together for movies or a show and a family dinner, but the kids couldn’t wait to get back to their friends. I asked my son what his favorite reasons were for taking the cruise and together we came up with this list with reasons teens will love a Disney cruise.
Is a Disney Cruise for teens?
1. They have their own teen hangout space – Vibe
Each ship has an area referred to as Vibe, the teen lounge dedicated to those aged 14-17. Inside kids will find video games, movies, a private swimming pool, foosball tables, and a smoothie bar. The area is staffed with counselors who continuously run games, competitions, and activities throughout the day and late into the night to keep teens engaged and having fun.
2. Teens can relax in the exclusive teen spa – Chill
For those with teenagers who want the ultimate vacation experience, why not try a special treatment at Chill, the teens-only spa? Found on the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Magic, teens might enjoy a Hot Chocolate Wrap, Fabulously Fruity Facial, or Magical Manicure. Reserve services when checking in for your cruise or once on board.
3. They can spend a day (or two) at Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay (pronounced Key) is Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. The majority of cruises on Disney heading to the Caribbean or Bahamas will have at least one day on the island (some ships have two). Teens will love snorkeling, playing on the beach, riding bikes, or hanging out at The Hideout, the teen club on the island. The Hideout has hammocks, volleyball, sports courts, and music, and really feels like a hideout because it’s difficult for parents to find. Families (teens included) may even want to participate in the Castaway Cay 5K the morning the ship docks on the island (sign up when you board the ship).
4. The food options on board are plentiful
Whether your teens are health conscious or love to eat, there’s something for them on board. Buffet breakfasts, sit down dinners, take-and-carry pizza and burgers, a fantasy dessert shop, endless soft serve ice cream, there is food in abundance for growing teens. If you have picky eaters, they are sure to find something too.
Teens with food allergies should know that Disney takes allergies very seriously. Every dinner we had the same server who was aware of our table’s food allergies. If our son wasn’t sure about a certain food, he could always ask a staff member and they would find out if a food was safe. Disney is tops in my book when it comes to food allergies.
5. A Disney cruise allows teens to connect with their peers
This might have been my favorite takeaway from the trip (but my teen loved it too). My kids aren’t known as being shy, but it can be hard for them to find their way in a group of strangers. Maybe it was the kids, maybe it was the counselors, but I love the fact my son was able to meet others from around the country and make new friends.
6. There are multiple movie theaters with round the clock screenings
Should teens ever tire of hanging out in Vibe, there is a constant stream of movies being screened on the ship. There were choices from the latest Disney releases to Disney classics, so everyone could find a movie they loved and spend some time out of the sun relaxing (or in the sun as there is a movie screen on deck too).
7. Teens have a taste of freedom from parents
Let me explain. With freedom comes responsibility. We made it clear from the beginning that our children would need to communicate with us where they would be on the ship. Everyone knows a Disney Cruise is a safe place for younger kids who spend time in the cruise ship’s Oceaneer’s Club, but we felt it was also a safe space for teens (and tweens) to spread their wings and explore on their own.
Some of our sense of security came through using the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App which allows families to communicate on a private onboard chat. The app also allows families to view booked activities, scheduled daily events, restaurant reservations, and destination details. It truly takes cruising to a new level. We allowed our children to hang out on the ship with their friends as long as we knew where they were, checked in regularly, and they came back to the room before their curfew. Download before you travel.
8. Teens get to see different parts of the world
One of the best parts of going on a cruise is being able to see new places and not having to unpack a bag. A Disney cruise offers a chance to explore new countries and cultures, and try new experiences. We had the chance to visit Nassau and Castaway Cay, but many other Disney cruises last longer and expose teens to destinations they may never see otherwise.
9. Disney’s night time shows will entertain them
Every night there is a different live show to entertain the guests. We had three shows, one for each night. The first night was The Golden Mickeys, then Beauty and the Beast, followed up by Disney’s Believe. Beauty and the Beast is a Broadway caliber production and teens and parents will be blown away by the performances. It’s a great time every evening for families to come together and enjoy a show.
10. On deck parties will have teens oohing and aahing
The Pirate Night On Deck party is a must for all passengers. Some families will choose to dress up like pirates, spend time watching the show, and taking photos with the Disney characters. Most teens might want to skip the fun, but make sure they plan to watch the fireworks show at sea. The show is spectacular and unlike anything they have ever seen before. Pirate Night is not included on all Disney ships so be sure to check your itinerary.
11. There are endless opportunities for fun
The Disney Dream has a sports court for basketball, but there is also a miniature golf course, and sports simulator on board. Digital sports simulators can be found on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy cruise ships. These virtual simulators allow you to compete in some of your favorite sports while out at sea, and you never have to chase a ball. Games include golf, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, and baseball, and packages can be booked as soon as you check in for your cruise or once you board the ship.
Once the teens have finished these games, they should take a ride on the one of the ship’s water slides (the Disney Dream has AquaDuck, a two person raft that goes through a tube slide around the ship), play shuffleboard, or head for one of the family venues for a game of bingo or trivia.
So here’s my take away from the Disney cruise and why I love it for teens. A Disney Cruise gave our family quality time without electronics. We had two complimentary wi-fi packages we used for our devices, but our children had no access to their electronics (except to use the Disney Navigator App). We spent time together every night at dinner and had daily excursions when the ship docked. It can be hard to carve out special moments as children grow older, but a Disney cruise reminds us: “The most important thing is family.” These words spoken by Walt Disney apply to all of us. Make time and take a Disney cruise with teens. You won’t be disappointed.
Interested in other Disney vacations? Check out our post about our family trip with Adventures by Disney to Costa Rica. That’s another great way to spend time as a family!