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DSCN1556– by Darlin’ Diva

Ah, the teen years.  Challenging?  Definitely.  Rewarding?  Absolutely.  Fraught with peril?  Certainly.  Teens often seem like alien beings – they used to be so sweet, easy and manageable.  Suddenly they become independent, opinionated, and unpredictable.  The transition from child to young adult can be such a busy time with tons of activities both in school and outside of it.  It makes planning a family vacation difficult!  I’m here to offer you my very best tips on making a Disney Cruise Line vacation one of your top picks for traveling with teens!  I’m somewhat of an expert as I’ve survived enjoyed FIVE Disney cruises with teens and had a blast on every one of them.

Don’t be mistaken in thinking Disney Cruises are best suited for families with small children.  Disney’s area of expertise is creating a magical good time for guests of all ages and, believe it or not, I think they excel with this especially for teen vacationers!  Whether you’re cruising on the classic, smaller ships (the Magic and the Wonder) or the new, larger Fantasy or Dream, you will be amazed by the variety of choices there are for teen-friendly activities.

Here are three simple things you need to do for a fantastic, whine-free Disney Cruise vacation with teens: DSCN1660

Step ONE:  Book a trip!  Find a week (or so) that works with your family’s schedule and do one of the following – call your favorite Disney Travel Specialist (aka travel agent) or surf the Disney Cruise line web site for a cruise.  You can spend a week (or longer) on a Disney cruise and never run out of fun things to do. There is also the option of  a shorter cruise out of Port Canaveral that can be combined with a side trip to Disney World.  We’ve done both of those things and were extremely happy with each type of trip.

Step TWO:  Book Excursions!  Try to engage your teen in the planning process.  I had the best luck with this when I gave my own teens options about different port excursions we could take as a family – I narrowed the choices down to two or three (based on price, duration, and activity level). Then I let them pick the one they thought sounded the most fun.  If you don’t care about sticking together, some excursions offered through Disney are “teen-only” so you can do your thing and your teen(s) can do theirs. Off the ship – we did all excursions as a family except on Castaway Cay (Disney’s island in the Bahamas) – the teen beach is very popular (also well-supervised), so we went our separate ways with a meet-up for lunch and again for going back to the ship.

DSCN1739Step THREE:  Agree on a framework for onboard activities!  I recommend you outline a plan before the trip for when and how you’ll spend family time together and when your teen(s) can join the MANY planned teen-specific activities.  What worked for us on at-sea days:  daytime activities played by ear – teens like to sleep late!-  then most dinners and shows together in the evening with everyone going their own way after that (curfew in place).  TIP:  While they’re sleeping in, you can get up early and treat yourself with a visit to the ship’s spa or enjoy a fabulous teen-free brunch at Palo (book both ahead of time)!

Bottom Line:  You know your teen better than anyone, so you know how much independence they can handle.  I do recommend you encourage them to at least try the teen club and activities on the ship.  The counselors are fantastic and well-trained in dealing with teens of every personality from all over the world.  Our daughter was always a bit shy about meeting new people, but took to the teen club and activities like a duck to water and made friends galore.  Our son, who is much more extroverted, would have disappeared into the teen club for the entire cruise if we’d let him. This made pre-planning family time absolutely necessary.

One of the best parts of cruising with teens is that you can enjoy guilt-free adults-only time while they’re off doing their thing – they get to spread their wings a little and you get to relax.

Until next time…Darlin’ Diva