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6 best cruises for teenagers

The word "bored" doesn't exist on these ships.

Updated

Teen with headphones on a cruise

You’re looking for cruises that won’t lump your teen in with children — we totally get it.

These cruise lines offer spaces, activities and parties designed specifically for youths ages 13 to 17. So whether your teen wants to dance or shoot hoops, play video games or simply hang, they’ll be happy cruising above the waves.

Carnival

High-schoolers get to be independent at land and sea with designated lounge areas and teen-only shore excursions.
  • Teenage lounges: Yes.
  • Teen-only parties? Yes — pool parties and even a makeshift prom.
Price ($-$$$):
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Carnival cultivates a party vibe aboard its ships — perfect for teens who just wanna have fun. It's also got video games, karaoke, movie nights and more at Club 02, the lounge especially for 15- to 17-year-olds. Got pre-teens? Circle C is for 12- to 14-year-olds.

Royal Caribbean

With its award-winning youth program and separate youth clubs for kids and teenagers, Royal Caribbean makes it a breeze to please everyone in the family.
  • Teenage lounges: Yes
  • Teen-only parties? Yes — theme dinners, pool parties and teen-only nightclubs.
Price ($-$$$):
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Inside the teens-only lounge, there are no set activities or programs — only spaces for teens to hang out, play games and attend parties. On deck, they'll find extreme fun, from rock climbing to ice skating, mini golf, table tennis and more. The name of the game here is freedom.

Norwegian

Norwegian has a laid-back vibe, but takes entertainment seriously. Teens can enjoy Entourage — a space specifically for them — plus sports and Broadway-style shows.
  • Teenage lounges: Yes
  • Teen-only parties? Yes — Norwegian hosts supervised College Night, White Hot Party and Glow teen-only parties. Tip: Avoid the Norwegian Bliss ship, which is geared toward adults.
Price ($-$$$):
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If your teen needs an escape from the fam, they can enjoy disco dancing, video games and social time in the Entourage lounge. 24/7 restaurants, included with the fare, will keep those fast-paced metabolisms fueled. Note that Norwegian allows 18-year-olds and older to drink wine and beer, with an a-okay from the parents.

Regent

The Club Mariner program serves to entertain and enrich. Deep discounts for passengers age 17 and younger abound.
  • Teenage lounge? Not technically, but Club Mariner is the epicenter of social life for teens.
  • Teen-only parties? Yes — movie nights and more.
Price ($-$$$):
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Staff aboard this luxury liner designs activities specifically for teens ages 13 to 17, from lounge nights to sports tournaments, scrapbooking, group scavenger hunts and much more. The best part? Literally everything is included, so teens don't have to worry about asking Mom or Dad to borrow some cash.

Princess

Your teenybopper can live the sweet life with a mocktail in hand at the legendary Rock the Boat party — it's like an awards show, but only for teens.
  • Teenage lounge? Yes
  • Teen-only parties? Yes — it's got a Rock the Boat party and more.
Price ($-$$$):
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Your teenybopper can live the sweet life with a mocktail in hand at the legendary Rock the Boat party — it's like an awards show, but only for teens.

MSC

The teen debit card grants a bit of financial independence, while events like gaming tournaments and karaoke competitions pack a high-energy punch.
  • Teenage lounge? Yes
  • Teen-only parties? Yes — themed parties and flash mobs.
Price ($-$$$):
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MSC Cruises divides its youth clubs into two groups: one for youths ages 12 to 14, and the other for teens ages 15 to 17. Daily activities feature an F1 simulator, 4D cinema, dance contests, table soccer and more, while nightly events like teen movie trivia and dance parties ensure the mingling never ends.

Bonus? Kids ages 17 and under sail free on select MSC ships.

How we chose these cruises

When compiling this list, we looked at cruise lines that devote resources and space specifically to teens ages 13 to 17, prioritizing companies that build ships with teens-only lounges and hangout areas in mind. We sought out companies with sturdy reputations for being friendly not only to adolescents, but to families, with a variety of onboard activities that can be enjoyed together or apart.

We also considered onboard dining and weighed the number, variety and overall quality of restaurants against passenger reviews. Finally, we weighed cabin amenities against each price point, looking for cruise lines that are known to deliver the highest value. Additionally, we sought out customer reviews on travel websites and personal travel blogs, considering first-person experiences and each company’s overall reputation.

Bottom line

Aboard these cruise ships, many teens discover that they have more independence than on land. They can hang out and play to their true heart’s content — staying out till midnight, without needing to get picked up by Mom or Dad. While you’re choosing the best cruise for your teen, check for discounts that might knock down the price.

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