Let’s take a moment and be honest with ourselves. Tweens and teens today are becoming more independent, and want their “space” no matter where you are. While we have taken the typical Florida vacation with our children, we understood that they were getting older and wanted, and maybe even needed a different type of vacation. Enter cruising.
Cruising with teens and tweens is the perfect way to give them their “freedom” but still keep them in a contained environment where I could relax and not stress about them the whole time and they could venture out on their own without having to do EVERYTHING as a family. Younger kids are definitely a whole other ballgame which I am not getting into in this post, but below are some tips for cruising with your teens and tween.
1. Set ground rules before you set sail
Do you want your kids to wear watches and check in at a certain time everyday? Do you want to always have dinner with them? Are they required to let you know if they are in the pool area? Before you set sail let the kids know what the ground rules will be. For our four, we got them watches and asked that they checked in at the room everyday at 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. This gave them plenty of freedom, but at every meeting time I asked what everyone was into so I knew, in general, where everyone was during the day.
2. Get the kids their own room (own space)
The logistics of this did not really work out the greatest for us as you can read about here, but our kids did get their own room, and we were very grateful for that. Having their own room kept them accountable for all their belongings, and kept me from tripping over their stuff in the middle of the night. Don’t delude yourself into thinking your teen will suddenly become neat and tidy because they are on a boat, they won’t. Pay the extra money for a room for the teens, you’ll thank me later.
3. Expect family time to become alone time, and alone time to become family time
The moment you think you and your spouse will have a moment of alone time, think again. While we made the rule the kids had to check in a certain times, we would head out for our morning coffee, and somehow the kids would show up and want to join us. The exact opposite is true of our planned family time. We would plan on a family game of basketball, and the kids would show up and say they were busy or made plans with one of their cruise friends, and Drew and I would find ourselves alone again. Discuss your plans and know that they can and probably will change during check ins throughout the day.
4. Teens and tweens are big enough to carry their own luggage
Seriously the best thing about travelling with older kids is that they can carry their own luggage. This means they can only pack what they can carry, no more. This also keeps the buying souvenirs in port down to a minimum. Packing for a first time cruise is hard for anyone, kids included. Mine tried to pack everything including the bathroom sink, however making the rule that they had to carry everything onboard and off the ship caused them to think twice about what they were packing and ask more questions before they made a choice on outfits or electronics.
5. Teens may not be interested upfront, but they will be in the end
Teens love to hang out with their friends, Skype their friends, play video games with their friends, you get the picture. When we went on our cruise, our oldest said he really didn’t want to do a family vacation, he wanted to stay home to hang with friends. UGH! Well I, of course, pulled the mom card and said you will go and you will like it, and you know what? At the end of the cruise, he didn’t want to leave the ship. Be prepared for the initial “I don’t wanna go” temper tantrum of your teen, but just know they will love it in the end.