Saturday, 14 April 2012

Teenagers Onboard - Travel - Cruises

Families are one of the fastest growing groups of new cruisers, with more than one million passengers under the age of 18 heading off on a cruise each year. The most important factors in choosing a cruise that will suit your whole family are the facilities onboard, the itinerary of the chosen ship, the cabins, and the dining options. Selecting a cruise line that has a child-friendly, and teen orientated approach, will make your holiday stress-free and enjoyable for everyone.

Research shows that the majority of 12-17 year olds prefer the Caribbean. With the warm weather and lovely beaches, they are able to relax, sunbathe, take part in water sports, dolphin encounters or even go on a boat trip. There are of course some excellent shore excursions, visiting museums, zoos, and aquariums. The main thing with the destination is that there is plenty to do, and for many teens, visiting cathedrals, art galleries or shopping is not always high on the list.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is rated very highly as a cruise line that teenagers love, all the ships have a dedicated teen area apart from The Nordic Empress. The areas are split into two groups 12-14 and 15-17 year olds. Each of the ships is very different in regards to what you will find onboard, the Voyager class and Freedom class contain so much to keep your children entertained from trampolining, ice-skating, and even the Flow Rider machine (a surf simulator).

On the Navigator, Mariner and the majority of the Freedom Class ships you will find a Living Room area, a place full of books and computers, where they can just relax with their friends, and The Back Deck, which is a place for teens to sunbathe with their friends, an exclusive outdoor area just for teenagers. There are activities throughout the day, and in the evenings, there are clubs and teen discos open from 10.30-2am, these being The Optix or Fuel.

Both groups are free to come and go as they please, and are designed to be a place to relax and chill out with their friends, or to take part in some great activities. Your children and their friends can get involved in anything from theme nights, to a Scratch DJ Academy, Mocktail Competitions, Open Mic and Talent Contests, Teen BBQ's, Pool parties, Teen Casino and even Unplugged Jam Sessions.

Royal Caribbean has also introduced Generation YSPA, which is a spa for 13-17 year olds. Teenagers can come along here (with their parents if they like!) and have different treatments like Acne Attack, Fruity Facials, Mother and Daughter, or Father and Son massages, Fake Bake, Surfers Scrub, Magical Manicures, and they can even take part in their own Fitness Frenzy classes.

Another cruise line with a great reputation for teen activities is Holland America. They have an outdoor teen only area called The Loft if your teenagers - or you - need a break. This has an exclusive sun deck with a waterfall and cave. There are lounge chairs where the teens can sunbathe during the day and sit under the stars in the evening. The Oasis is another area, which runs teen discos, karaoke, video games, sports tournaments, trivia contests, and movie nights (not available on all Vista-class ships however).

Holland America also runs kids culinary classes, here they will learn basic cooking techniques, kitchen safety, how to cook with new ingredients, whilst following specific recipe instructions. These classes are a great way of being hands-on and learning from talented chefs, the food ranges from fine dining to teenage favourites.

Carnival Cruise Line is also high on the list of teen's favourite cruise lines. They have two teen clubs Circle C (12-14 years) and Club O2 (15-17 years old). The Carnival Conquest Class ships have a 1,800 sq ft dance/night club, with computers, soda bars, amazing sound systems and more than 60 video games. Carnival Conquest, Glory, Valor and Liberty have the largest teen facilities of the Carnival fleet.

No matter what cruise line you choose, teenagers are not allowed their own cabins, most family sized cabins will have bunk beds, or you can choose inter-connecting cabins. It really depends on what sort of sleeping arrangements you are comfortable with, and what sort of cabins are available on your selected cruise, but there is plenty of choice.

One of the favourite things about cruising for families is that the food is free and available at most times, so teens do not have to rely on their parents to buy their dinner, or worry about running out of money. You will find most cruise lines offer flexible dining, whether this is in the main restaurant, or even in the smaller buffet style places. They may fancy Jonny Rockets on the Royal Caribbean fleet or The Terrace Grill on Holland America, which all offer teen favourites such as burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, there is always a great selection.

With drinks, all cruise lines offer soft drink cards or packages, whereby for a fixed price they can have unlimited soft drinks or juices. Once again, every cruise line works differently, and those who do not have these offers, tend to offer free complimentary drinks anyway. This is another way of giving your teen the independence that they so often crave, especially on holiday. These packages range from $4 a day to $10 a week, it really depends on the cruise lines individual pricing.

Taking your teens on a cruise is definitely something we can see catered for more and more on cruise ships nowadays, the activities, entertainment and facilities are improving all the time. Your cruise holiday is a time for you and your children to enjoy themselves, relax, and have the time of your lives and will allow them some time away from you - and you some much-needed time away from them!

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