Taking Your Teens on a Cruise: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Considering booking a family cruise vacation but wondering how teens will handle it? While cruising with adolescents can be memorable and fun, it also comes with unique challenges.
Here’s an honest look at some of the good aspects as well as the bad and ugly realities of cruising with your often moody, easily excitable teenagers so you go in with eyes wide open on what to reasonably expect:
Abundant Onboard Activities Catered to Teens
Modern cruise ships now cater extensively to teenagers with activities and facilities designed just for them, like indoor arcades, teen clubs offering gaming systems and hangout spaces, outdoor sports courts for basketball or volleyball, swimming pools, live entertainment, youth events and more.
This wealth of activities geared to adolescent interests will ideally keep them happily occupied, forging new friendships, and not constantly underfoot.
Concentrated Quality Parent-Teen Bonding Time
A cruise offers a near-perfect setting for some much needed concentrated quality time between parents and teens away from the constant distractions and social pressures of school, extracurriculars, sports, jobs, screens, and home routines.
Make the most of this opportunity by intentionally planning some activities you can enjoy together like zip lining, flow riding, or learning activities. Sit together at shows and meals.
Mental and Physical Overstimulation and Exhaustion
The sheer nonstop sensory stimulation of a cruise ship’s endless buffet options, back-to-back activities, loud entertainment, pools, lights, crowds, and general hustle can quickly overwhelm teens who are unaccustomed to such an intense overabundance of excitement and choices.
Make sure to schedule some quiet chill time in the cabin, room service meals, and breaks from the chaos into each day.
Overtired, overstimulated teens almost inevitably lead to meltdowns, conflicts, and withdrawn moods if you fail to balance the frenzy with downtime. Too much excitement takes a toll.
Disrupted Appetite and Picky Eating
The unlimited 24/7 cruise buffets, dessert bars, and ice cream stands often wreck teenage appetites and nutrition, especially if they are allowed to load up on junk food, sugars, and empty carbs at will.
Suddenly even kids who eat balanced meals easily at home only want to survive on pizza, burgers, fries, and chocolate. Gently insist on structured sit-down family meals together to encourage making better choices. Stay hydrated.
If your child is prone to motion sickness, turbulent open ocean waters can upend even the sturdiest teen stomachs unexpectedly. Remember to bring seasickness prevention medications, Relief Bands and the like if your child has susceptibility.
Check cruise forecasts and try to avoid ships with reputations for providing rough, nausea-inducing rides. Request interior cabins located mid-ship which mitigate rocking. And be prepared for incapacitating seasickness with supplies like seasick bags, ginger ale, crackers and Pedialyte, along with access to fresh air decks.
While cruise lines have very strict alcohol policies for teenagers, there is still the risk that teens could overindulge if alcoholic beverages happen to fall into their path through older friends or other means.
Be extra vigilant about closely monitoring where your teens are going and what activities they are participating in. Know the signs of alcohol intoxication like slurred speech, stumbling, and delayed reactions.
Shore excursion activities will be tough if kids are battling hangovers, so use good judgment before letting teens join fitness intensive or water based tours if you’re taking a last-minute cruise offer.
Family Time without Distractions
Removed from the distractions and diversions of daily home life, teens finally have your undivided attention on a cruise with nowhere to escape together in close quarters. Make the most of this enforced family time by asking about their thoughts, interests, and feelings. Foster two-way conversations. The bonds and memories solidified from the up close time together will be well worth weathering a few bumps in the road. Leverage the setting for connecting.
*This is a collaborative post