It’s not always easy traveling with teens. Between conflicting interests, sleep schedules and arguments about technology dependence, there’s a lot of room for friction. If only there were a place where everyone could be happy? It so happens that there is. A cruise ship is one of the best places on earth to be a teen—or the parent of one. We asked Jeanette Loury, Royal Caribbean’s manager of guest activities and entertainment, for the scoop:
How does the onboard programming for teens differ from other kids?
We divide teens into two age groups: 12-14 and 15-17. What we have for teens is actually very similar to the adult activities — they come and go at their own will. They can check the schedule and see what they want to do, whether it’s a sport, a craft or a scavenger hunt, and they can opt in or out.
That sounds like a teen’s dream. Why do you set it up that way?
We want to convey a sense of freedom. These are young adults and should get to pick and choose what they want to do. It helps instill a sense of individuality and encourages adults and teens to communicate openly, whether it’s setting a meeting time or using walkie talkies.
What are some of the things teens may be surprised to find onboard?
There are plenty of options for the active teen – table tennis, mini-golf, basketball, rock climbing, ice skating – but for kids who want a little chill time we have a teen lounge that carves out space to mix and mingle. Instead of the mall, movie night on the pool deck is the place to go for teens and their new friends. We even offer the Scratch DJ Academy for teens who want to be the entertainment, not just the entertained.
One of the neatest things is that many of the most popular activities and specialty attractions on our ships have dedicated times when they are open only to teens. As a general guest, you have to go and queue up for your time to try FlowRider, for example, but we’ll often have time on the schedule when it’s closed to everyone who isn’t a teen.
What about options that are only available to teens?
Every Royal Caribbean ship has a dedicated teen venue, and we do a nightly teen disco, as well as a lot of themed parties — pajama parties, Caribbean night and toga parties are really fun. The teen team on the ship brings their own flair to the party planning, and no two itineraries are exactly the same. We also have lots of sports activities for teens: Tournaments for basketball three-on-three, soccer, floor hockey.
Teens can be busy night and day if they wish, with supervised activities adjusted for days in port and days at sea. It is no 9 to 5 job for the crew. Nighttime activities like the teen disco run well past usual bedtimes on land with hours for 12-14 year olds from 9:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. and 15-17 year olds from 10:00 p.m. until the wee hours.
Why is it important to make sure the teen offerings are unique?
We have a lot of repeat guests who know the programming so well, and we want to surprise them and keep them excited. We definitely set the hours of operation, the venues and some of the basic programming, but we rely heavily on the shipboard teams to be creative, inventive and fun, and that way they also stay engaged and are proud of the activities they’re offering to guests.
Check out some expert tips on vacationing with teens.