Normally, when we hear of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) it’s as the world’s largest cruise industry trade association and the topic is cruise safety. Today is no exception. But rather than information about what member lines are doing to make the entire cruise experience safe in response to some recent over-publicized event, CLIA is back with tips on keeping teens safe on a cruise vacation.
“You’re looking at Ephesus and they’re whining and asking ‘why are we here?’ says Candyce Stapen, a family travel expert and USA Today travel editor in a CLIA-released story, nailing the experience: “And if your teenager is unhappy, you will be too.”
How to make cruising a good time for all? CLIA has some suggestions and not one of them includes allowing under age drinking:
- Get teens’ input up front. “If you don’t get their input, you’ll get complaints, at least for the first day or two,” Stapen says. “Maybe your teens just studied ancient history and would love to visit the places they learned about, or maybe they just want to go to the beach on this trip. In the end, it’s your decision, but discuss it,” she suggests.
- Seek age appropriate programs. “Look for programs that break out younger and older teens,” she says. Developmentally there are big differences between a 13 year old and a 17 year old.
- Give them some free rein. On a cruise, teens can go out for pizza, plan their own activities and get together with friends without needing to be driven anywhere or ask you for money.
- Keep in touch. “My teens didn’t like it when I stuck my nose into the program, but it’s important to be sure there’s some supervision and things are going well,” she says. Also make sure they have a set time to check in with you — at least twice a day – in person or take your own walkie talkies with you to avoid cell phone charges.
- Carve out family time. Between sports, parties, and all the other teen activities, the hardest part of cruising may be finding family time. Stapen advises booking a few shore excursions in advance that the whole family will enjoy together. Often, a big highlight for teens is dining together formally, informally or at specialty restaurants. It gives them a chance to dress up and flaunt their personal style.
The cruise lines that actively court the family market understand the importance of keeping teens positively engaged and have been meeting the challenge with an ever-growing array of “wow” amenities and activities.
“Teens have a strong voice in family vacation planning, so our member lines keep their fingers on the pulse of what they want,” notes Christine Duffy, president & CEO, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). “In addition to the dance parties and sports that teens have long loved, the cruise lines continue to add more innovative features to appeal to this growing group of cruisers.”