When I was a child, my family spent Christmas going from my mother’s parent’s home, to my father’s parent’s home, and then finally back to our home where my mother made a family dinner for everyone. The tradition was lovely; our grandparents were able to have a private special visit with their 3 adorable granddaughters and then the entire family gathered together.
My family does it a little different, as do many American families today. I work full time, unlike my mother and grandmother who were willing and able to take days to make all of the delicious food for our festivities.
Last year my family tried a cruise for the holidays, and to our amazement, all loved this idea. It was not your traditional holiday experience, it was totally different and…outstanding. We now think we will take a holiday cruise every other year…
There are a number of outstanding sailings for families with teens and tweens that may be of interest.
1. Celebrate Christmas on a cruise ship! Princess Cruises is offering Christmas on a cruise on the Emerald Princess, round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale on December 18, 2010. This 10-day Eastern Caribbean cruise visits the Princess Cays, St. Thomas, Antigua St. Kitts, Barbados, and St. Lucia. The Emerald Princess has excellent facilities for teens; the onboard program, called Remix (for 13-17 year olds), offers favorites such as dance and Jacuzzi parties, along with karaoke, sports competitions and late night movies. The Emerald Princess also caters to the younger crowd with its expansive teen center, which comes equipped with ping-pong tables, juke boxes, and all the latest video games.
2. Enjoy Christmas at home and New Year’s in the sun! Holland America invites families on a leisurely 10-day Caribbean/Virgin Islands cruise aboard the Maasdam. The cruise, which departs Ft. Lauderdale December 27th, visits Grand Turk, St. Thomas, Philipsburg, St. John, Frederiksted, Santo Domingo and Half Moon Cay. 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. Kids will love the secluded passageway that leads upstairs to the Oasis, a teen sundeck featuring a nine-foot waterfall and cooling cave; they 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, 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 standard classes.
3. Or, take a quick holiday trip on Disney Cruises, always a popular favorite with families. Disney is offering a 5-night New Year’s cruise aboard the Magic, sailing December 29, 2010. Ring in the New Year on this Bahamas cruise that visits Port Canaveral, Castaway Cay, and Nassau. Disney has a reputation for having fantastic amenities for kids, and they don’t disappoint with their teen programs: The Magic offers Ocean Quest, an interactive play space constructed 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 lounge, designed for older teens (ages 14 to 17) is a trendy spot for teens to play videogames, listen to music, surf in the Internet Cafe and enjoy social activities throughout the day. Activities on the ship run into the wee hours…perfect for the teen crowd.
Don’t see information on your favorite cruise lines teen program here? For a comprehensive listing of the teen/tween programs aboard the cruise lines, please visit the AllThingsCruise.com. Will you be expecting during your holiday cruise travel? Make sure you know the cruise line pregnancy policies. If traveling with younger kids, check out the rules for traveling with infants and younger children.
To book any of these teen-friendly cruises or for more information about other great family cruises available this holiday season, please visit CruiseCompete.com.