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How to Take a Family Vacation with Teenagers Without Killing Them

Updated on May 15, 2014

You're Kidding, Right?

Seriously, Mom, I can't go on vacation with you. People will know we're related.
Seriously, Mom, I can't go on vacation with you. People will know we're related. | Source

A Family Vacation with My.....Family?

What? I have to go on a vacation with you?


Yes, that's what our beloved offspring say after about 13 years of living with us. We give birth to them, feed them, nurture them, kiss countless boo-boo's and then when they hit puberty we're nothing to them. Nada. Non-existent. In return, we get the "I'm-only with-them-because-they-feed-me" look.



But, yes, you love them. After all, they're you're kids, even if they would rather forget that inconvenient truth. And, well, sometimes, you just want to spend some quality time with them and just have fun. Yes, teenagers can have fun with their parents, even if they would rather not admit that it's possible.

No Back Talk, We're Going On Vacation!

Sometimes you just have to take them kicking and screaming
Sometimes you just have to take them kicking and screaming | Source

Family Cruising -- The Great Vacation Equalizer

So if you're going to put everyone through the agony of a family vacation that includes traveling with one or more teenagers, what kind of vacation can you take without getting the urge to eat your young?

Cruising just isn't for retired couples or newlyweds anymore. Believe it or not, there are many cruise lines that offer programs that make cruising with teenagers bearable. And, yes, they will like it. Promise.

The beauty of taking a cruise as a family vacation is that there are plenty of things for each member of the family to do separately, yet you can still meet up and do things together as a family. Nearly every cruise line has special programs for toddlers all the way up to teenagers, which leaves plenty of adult time, giving you and your spouse the chance to remember what life was like before teenagers.


Fun Things Teenagers Can Do On a Cruise

Great Cruise Lines For Teenagers

  • Princess Cruise Line
  • Royal Carribbean
  • Norwegian Cruise Line

How To Plan a Cruise With Your Teenager

Now that you've decided that taking a cruise is right for you, what do you look for? What type of cruise should we take? Where should we go?

Well, I know by now that you have learned from painful experience that you never tell a teenager what they are going to be doing without expecting World War 3. To make sure there is not a danger to world peace, include your teenager in planning your cruise.

To do this, take a trick out of your playbook you acquired when they were toddlers. When your teenager was two or three, they wanted to wear what they wanted to wear, not what Mom or Dad had picked out for them. So, to kind of guide them into making a decision and let them think they're in control, you laid out two or three outfits and told them to choose.

It's simple, but it applies here. Do research on a couple of cruises and pick out two or three that have really great programs for teenagers. Then, just say, "hey, here are some great cruises. Take a look at them and tell me which one you like best."

You have just accomplished two things. One, you have avoided any extra attitude that may come from a moody teenager having to spend a week in the same room with their parents. And, two, you just gave them the power of being in charge. Well, at least the illusion of it. But, hey, you know who's really in charge.

Would you vacation with your teenager?

See results

See, they're happy!

Some teens and kids my son met on our family cruise.
Some teens and kids my son met on our family cruise. | Source

Cruising With Teenagers, Can Fun Happen?

Having fun with your teenager can absolutely be possible on a cruise. How do I know? I've done it, that's how I know. And, yes, we had a great time. And, no, I didn't eat him either.

A couple of years ago, I decided to take a cruise with my 16 year old. Wait, it gets better. I went on a cruise with a couple of friends who had a 16 year old and a 15 year old. Out of the three of them, only mine was excited to go. The other two didn't want to leave their boyfriend/girlfriend. To top it off, we were cruising in Alaska. That doesn't sound scary? Yeah, well, there's not much phone service up there. Take away a teenager's love interest and their cell phone, see how fast they turn on you.

When we were planning which cruises to take, one of the things I made sure was at the top of the list was activities for teenagers. This is where a good travel agent comes in. We told her the age ranges of our group, and she told us what cruise lines were best for a younger crowd.

Our ship was equipped with a special section that is set aside just for teenagers. There they can hang out with the other teens, play video games and learn some amazing things. At the end of our cruise, they also had a formal night at one of the restaurants just for them. No adults allowed!

We took a cruisetour, so I tried to find activities and things to see on land that would appeal to them. My son is a railfan, so I made sure to schedule several train rides throughout our time on the land portion of our tour. I think that was his favorite part of the vacation. He still talks about it to this day. So, yes, fun is possible with your moody teenager.


Let's just have some fun!
Let's just have some fun! | Source

How Can I Have Fun With My Teen?

So how do you enjoy a cruise with your teen? It's easy if you follow a few simple guidelines:

  1. Talk to a travel agent, find out which cruise line offers programs and activities your teen will enjoy.
  2. Pick out two or three cruises that are in your budget and appeal to you and let your teen pick which cruise they prefer.
  3. Plan onshore excursions with your teen. Let them pick an activity and do it with them, even if it is not your first choice. The goal here is to get them involved in the decision making process and above all have fun with your teen.

Enjoying a cruise with your family, teenagers included, is a real possibility. In about ten years when your teen is nearing their thirties, they'll thank you for making them go on a cruise with their hideous parents. And while they might give you grief now, by then they will admit that they had a really great time.


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