Read on for a sampling of the coolest places for older youth to hang out at sea in safe and secure settings. (Don’t see your favorite line here? They may not have dedicated programs or amenities for teens or tweens; see here for a list of cruise lines without specific facilities for these older children.)
Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival’s Circle “C” clubs, for 12-14 year-olds, feature a dance floor, high-tech sound and lighting, monster plasma TVs with movies and music videos, touch screen jukeboxes and gaming centers with 20-inch plasma game screens.
The Club 02 facilities, for 15-17 year-olds, feature cool activities like movies, music, and video games. Club O2 also features teen-oriented lounge with non-alcoholic specialty drinks, and the line has set up teen-only shore excursions.
Celebration Cruise Line: Club Wave, for 10-14 year olds provides a variety of age appropriate activities and games. It also features the Xbox, DDR, Guitar Hero, PlayStation and Wii. Open Water, for 15-17 year olds is intended to be more laid back and relaxed – a meeting place where friends play the latest video games, listen to music and jam on the club’s dance floor. Computers and internet are also available so teens can keep touch with their friends back home. The cruise line also features a 180-Foot Slide in the Kids of The Caribbean area!
Compagnie Du Ponant: Compagnie Du Ponant warmly welcomes young passengers and offers adjoining cabins, games, and a multitude of other activities.
Celebrity Cruises: This cruise line’s Celebrity X-Club Youth Program offer teens lots of options, and breaks their program down into two age groups (three during peak season). Ensigns (ages 9-11) which features activities like Pool Olympics, Scavenger Hunts and Talent Shows, and Admiral (ages 12-14, and 15-17) which include teen late night dancing, Karaoke, and sports tournaments, among other activities. Teens can expect theme parties, movies and Play Stations as additional options.
Costa Cruises: Costa offers a two-part teen program, Teen Junior (12 to 14), and Teen (15 to 17). Teen Junior is only active during certain periods. The TeenZone features a multitude of artistic, sports and game activities. The line holds beach parties, treasure hunts, talent shows are karaoke- and a pool party with a midnight dip!
Crystal Cruises: On select cruises during the summer and holidays, Crystal offers teen-specific activities like games, arts and crafts, and video gaming systems/. The Crystal Symphony and Serenity also offer Waves, a teen video arcade. Crystal also offers a fantastic variety of programs like language and dance lessons, sushi making, and golf lessons with a PGA pro.
Cunard Line: Cunard offers The Zone, for activities for kids 7+ and 10+ years. Some of their most popular entertainment includes scavenger hunts, bingo, ship tours and basketball, along with pizza nights, movies, and a disco. Teens will also enjoy the unique Royal Court Theatre and Planetarium Shows.
Disney Cruise Line: Edge, for 11-13 year-olds, and Vibe for 14-17 year olds, aboard the Disney Dream, are great places for kids to play videogames, watch television, listen to music, surf the Internet and partake in various activities with kids their own age. Vibe also features and indoor lounge and outdoor sundeck where kids can catch some rays. Ocean Quest, a children’s activity center on the Disney Magic, is designed to look like the ship’s bridge. Kids 11 to 13 years of age can steer a virtual ship, play videogames, watch television and participate in arts and crafts. The Stack is exclusive for 14-17 year olds and allows this group to listen to music, surf the Internet and enjoy a variety of social activities throughout the day. On the Disney Wonder, the line offers Aloft, a teen club for ages 13 to 17.
Ecoventura: Does not feature a teen program per se, but does offer family teen departures, for families with kids 12-17 years of age. The programs feature long trail explorations an extensive number of snorkeling and kayaking excursions. The ships provide popular kid’s board games, DVDs and books, and teens can tour the islands with their parents, or as a teen group. They are free to spend time with kids their own age, joining their adults for specific activities such as briefings and dinner.
Holland America Line: Teens traveling on HAL cruise ships can enjoy the Loft, a special lounge area for kids 13-17, designed to resemble a New York artist’s studio. The setting includes music and videos, comfortable furniture, Internet access stations, video games and karaoke, big screen TVs and more. A secluded passageway leads upstairs to the Oasis, a teens-only sundeck featuring a nine-foot waterfall and cooling cave. Teens can sunbathe during the day and dance under the stars at night to the beat of a state-of-the-art sound system and laser show.
HAL also offers a Teen Culinary Arts Center Program where kids can learn about basic cooking techniques, kitchen safety, new ingredients and how to follow recipe instructions. Kids up to age 15 can participate in this program, teens 15 and up may participate in the adult classes.
MSC Cruises: MSC offers age-specific activities for 13 to 17 year olds- everything from sports and games tournaments to MTV-style dance classes or the Virtual World Arcade. There is a full teen nightlife that includes trivia and dance contests, live music and discos. MSC also offers teens a prepaid card designed for onboard purchases.
Norwegian Cruise Line: NCL offers a Navigator’s Program (10-12 years) and a Teen’s Program (13-17 years) that offers theme and dance parties, sports events, and scavenger hunts. Kids can also watch television, play Wii games and eat together as a group.
P&O Cruises- P&O has a variety of programs for teen and tweens: Scubas (for 9-12 year olds and H2O (for 13-17 year olds) have clubhouses that have music, movies, video games and computers for teens to use. Their ships the Arcadia and Artemis are adults only and do not accept passengers under 18.
Paul Gauguin Cruises: Paul Gauguin, does not have a traditional “children’s program”, but features the Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Program. This unique program was created by explorer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau and allows cruisers aged 9 to 17 to have a hands-on, interactive experience with marine and island ecosystems . Tweens and teens can explore coral reefs, hike rainforest trails and visit marae (ancient Polynesian temples), learn how black pearls and vanilla are cultivated, how volcanic islands become coral atolls, and how to paddle an outrigger canoe.
Princess Cruises: Princess has some great facilities for teens. Remix (for 13-17 year olds) offers dance and hot tub parties, along with karaoke, sports competitions and late night movies. The teen centers come equipped with ping-pong tables, juke boxes, and all the latest video games. A note: Children are welcome on all Princess cruise ships, but facilities vary. Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess do not have dedicated Youth and Teen Centers.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Ultra-luxury cruise line Regent Seven Seas also offers teen programs. Regent’s Club Mariner (including age groups of 9-12 and 13-17) operates during the summer and select holiday sailings and gives tween and teen travelers the opportunity to enjoy a variety of exciting, interactive activities, including whale watching in Alaska and artist classes on tropical cruises, plus other unique adventure and cultural opportunities.
Royal Caribbean International: The cruise line’s ships are a floating paradise for teenagers. The Living Room invites kids to hangout during the day, stocked with computers, books and games. The Back Deck provides teens with a place to sunbathe together and enjoy a buffet dinner. Fuel, the teens-only disco, is open until 2 a.m. and also provides a great place to mingle and meet new friends. Voyagers (ages 9-11) can participate in activities with Adventure Scientists, create Adventure Art, explore the acting with Adventure Theater, and enjoy outside excursion activities such as parachute games and tug of war on CocoCay® and Labadee®. Older kids (12-14, and 15-17) will enjoy theme nights, learning to surf on a simulator, and attending Scratch DJ Academy, in addition to a variety of other activities.