Header image
Editor Pick

The 6 Best Cruises for Teens [2024]

Updated: January 16, 2024

Written by

AAA Travel Editors

Boarding a cruise ship is an experience unlike any other. In mere moments, you go from standing in a check-in line to exploring a small city floating on the sea. Spending time sailing the open ocean and exploring new ports adds to the incredibly memorable experience of cruising.

With something for everyone, cruises are one of the perfect vacations for families with teens. Cruise ships today are designed with premium luxuries, countless activities and amenities that will have your teenager begging to book your next trip before you pull back into your home port.

Let’s look at the best cruises for teens and what makes these picks perfect for families with young adults.

1. Royal Caribbean

Cruise At-a-Glance:

  • Best for: Onboard activities
  • Unique features for teens: Onboard arcade, mini-golf course, rock climbing wall, ice skating rink, zip lines, indoor sky diving, surf simulators and laser tag course 

When it comes to cruise lines that know how to deliver fun and action, no list would be complete without Royal Caribbean. With the largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean has designed floating cities jam-packed with ocean-side adventure. Their oasis-class ships are jaw-dropping, with more room to explore than you can possibly envision at sea. All Royal Caribbean cruises feature teen-specific clubs, which are the perfect place for young adults to mingle and make new friends.

Independence of the Seas

Dual racer waterslides will provide your teen and their buddy with a thrilling plunge through three stories of twists and turns. Virtual reality games meet soaring heights on the Sky Pad—a trampoline and VR headset combination unlike any other. Grab the whole family and join your teen in tackling an escape room, and of course, your teen will love chowing down at the dozens of restaurants on board, including casual picks like Fish and Ships poolside.

2. Carnival

Cruise At-a-Glance:

  • Best for: Teen clubs
  • Unique features for teens: Teen clubs, waterslides, mini golf, arcade and a sports square

With company slogans like “Choose Fun,” “The Fun Ships,” and “Fun for All. All for Fun,” it is easy to see why Carnival is a top pick for teens. Carnival ships are designed with a huge focus placed on those under 18. One of the top benefits of Carnival cruises is the teen-focused clubs Circle C and Club O2. Both clubs feature fun daytime activities, and older teens can even participate in an onboard prom. That’s not to mention all the incredible youth-focused activities Carnival delivers on ships both large and small.

Carnival Mardis Gras

On one of Carnival’s newest ships, teens will love the vast number of activities to choose from, including multiple waterslides, a sports square, mini golf and an arcade. Oh, and did we mention Carnival Mardis Gras has the first-ever roller coaster at sea? Now that’s a true scream! After a long day adventuring on the ship, teens will have ample food options, including Street Eats, which features new foods from around the globe daily.

3. Disney Cruise Line

Cruise At-a-Glance:

  • Best for: Families with kids in various age groups
  • Unique features for teens: Teen lounge areas, pool areas, video game stations, dance club, water coaster, interactive games, private outdoor deck and karaoke

Debating between taking your family to Disneyland or Disneyworld for Spring Break? Why not take them on a Disney Cruise? The Disney Cruise Line is for all ages, but teenagers will especially enjoy what it has to offer. Most Disney cruise ships have water activities to cool off with, such as pools and water slides. The newer ships cater to being one of the best cruises for teens, so you’ll find clubs for both teens and tweens to lounge and interact with other kids their age. 

If your kids aren’t fans of Disney or its offshoots, like Marvel or Star Wars, they may enjoy one of the other amazing cruise lines on this list. However, those who still have the heart of a child will thoroughly love cruising with Disney. 

Disney Wish 

Disney Wish is the newest ship to the Disney Cruise Line and offers a variety of upgraded accommodations and experiences. Inspired by classic Disney tales, Disney Wish stands out among the other four amazing ships on the cruise line. Teens can check out Disney’s first attraction at sea, kids clubs inspired by Star Wars and Marvel, game-style competitions in the “Hero Zone” and even an Imagineering Lab. 

4. Princess Cruises

Cruise At-a-Glance:

  • Best for: Recreational tournaments
  • Unique features for teens: Sports area, skeeball, arcade games, board games, table tennis, air hockey and youth programs

Princess Cruises is a luxury cruise line that primarily caters to an older crowd; however, teenagers can still find plenty of enjoyment while traveling. Teens can enjoy recreational tournaments, play arcade games and start a disco party on the dance floor. While most of the Princess cruise ships don’t have water slides or water-park features, you can still expect traditional swimming pools and hot tubs to take a dip in. 

Sun Princess 

Sun Princess is the newest ship of the Princess Cruise lines and is ideal for teenagers who like to stay active and play moon under the sun. The ship is home to the first Princess family activity zone called Park19. In Park19, you’ll find the first Rollglider, an aerial roller coaster zip line. You can work your way through a climbing structure obstacle course, hang out in an open-air observation deck, brave through a bridge and net course and cool off in the “Splash Zone” water area.

5. Holland America Line

Cruise At-a-Glance:

  • Best for: Entertainment options 
  • Unique features for teens: Kids club, game room, karaoke, air hockey, basketball, pingpong and teen disco events 

The Holland America Line is renowned for its exceptional cruise experience, and it also caters to different age groups, including young adults. The cruise line offers programs for multiple age ranges in its Kids Club, including those ages 13-17. The Kids Club hosts specific events for its teenage passengers, including video game tournaments and poker nights. The Holland America ships all have amazing dining options, where teens can enjoy sipping on mocktails during a special dinner or watching a live show. Plus, Holland America offers many excursions ideal for adventurous teenagers, such as helicopter rides and ziplining tours. 

Koningsdam

The Koningsdam is a beautiful mid-sized cruise ship known for its music entertainment options, such as the Rolling Stones Rock Room and B.B. King’s Blues Club. The Koningsdam does include the Kids Club, so your teenagers will always have a space onboard to retreat to when they want some time alone or to meet other teens. 

6. Celebrity Cruises

Cruise At-a-Glance:

  • Best for: Family accommodations
  • Unique features for teens: Teen club, spa services, sports tournaments, pool areas, video games, culinary classes and Camp at Sea program. 

Celebrity Cruises shines for its luxury family accommodations and onboard activities. With suites that provide room for the whole family, you can expect your teenagers to feel like they have enough space. They can also make their way to Celebrity’s Teen Club, a space just for young adults to enjoy. There, they can partake in video game tournaments or silent disco parties. Outside the club, teens can enjoy playing on a miniature golf course or camp under the stars with Celebrity’s Camp at Sea. 

Celebrity Edge

The Celebrity Edge is part of Celebrity’s Edge-series ships, which also include Beyond, Apex and the upcoming Ascent. Celebrity Edge is one of the first resort cruise ships to receive a Recommended Rating from Forbes Travel Guide. It's no surprise, with its spa and retreat, 29 lounges, bars and restaurants and award-winning productions.

Best Cruises for Teens FAQ

Below are frequently asked questions about traveling on cruises with teenagers.

What Makes a Ship Teen-Friendly?

Before booking a cruise, if you plan to bring along a teenager, it is important to compare your options by looking for a ship that will cater to your teen.

What makes a ship teen-friendly? For our top picks, we made sure that the cruises offered the following youth-focused features:

  • Groups specifically for teens: This is the perfect way to let your teen socialize while on the open seas. Meeting new friends is one of the top benefits of picking a cruise with teen-specific programming.
  • Plenty of onboard activities: Most cruises will spend at least a few days at sea. For this reason, we went with cruises that feature dozens of onboard entertainment options. From waterslides to arcades, these cruises won’t leave your teen complaining about being bored.

When you arrive at destinations, your teen can choose from various excursions and activities. Engage in communication with them to learn what they would enjoy at every port and reach a compromise on the best activities to book. 

Are Cruises Safe for Teens?

The beauty of traveling on a cruise is that your teenagers can roam the boat freely, but they remain restricted to the ship. Teenagers have the freedom to explore around the cruise, whether it’s checking out the activities in the teen club or joining a sports tournament. Cruises are also an opportunity for them to meet new people their age and grow their independence. 

However, parents will be held responsible for their teen’s well-being while on board. Cruise staff isn’t responsible for your teenagers other than handling safety situations. Before departing on your cruise, check out your cruise’s safety protocols regarding families via the cruise line’s website. We recommend also having a conversation with your family about safety and rules to follow during the cruise. 

What Does a Teenager Need for a Cruise? 

What your teens should pack will depend on the type of cruise and the destinations. However, there are a few general items teenagers can pack to be set for the cruise:

  • 2-3 footwear options, such as sandals and good walking shoes
  • 2-3 swimwear options
  • Undergarments and pajamas
  • Toiletries
  • Day wear shirts, shorts and pants
  • 2-3 nightwear options
  • A pair of sunglasses
  • Books to read
  • Card games
  • Emergency contact information or tag on their bags
  • A light jacket or sweatshirt 

Don't forget to pack all the necessary travel documents, such as passports. Keep them in your carry-on for easy access when checking in onto the cruise ship.

Book Your Next Cruise With AAA

An AAA Membership provides peace of mind when you travel—before, during and after your vacation! AAA Travel has teamed up with some of the industry's best cruise lines to provide you with added amenities, unbeatable discounts and rewards. Booking your cruise adventure with AAA today!

Written by

AAA Travel Editors

More Articles

THE VALUE OF TRIP CANVAS

Travel Like an Expert with AAA and Trip Canvas

Get Ideas from the Pros

As one of the largest travel agencies in North America, we have a wealth of recommendations to share! Browse our articles and videos for inspiration, or dive right in with preplanned AAA Road Trips, cruises and vacation tours.

Build and Research Your Options

Save and organize every aspect of your trip including cruises, hotels, activities, transportation and more. Book hotels confidently using our AAA Diamond Designations and verified reviews.

Book Everything in One Place

From cruises to day tours, buy all parts of your vacation in one transaction, or work with our nationwide network of AAA Travel Agents to secure the trip of your dreams!

BACK TO TOP