First Time Teen Cruiser - Part 1

| Wednesday, 09 Sept. 2009

Questions and answers for first-time teen cruisers.

All of you first-time teen cruisers out there must have a lot on your minds. If you've never cruised before, you probably have plenty of questions about the whole experience. Don't stress out too much, though -- I have compiled a list of frequently asked cruising questions for all you puzzled teens to "get you in the know" of cruising.

Question: Does the cruise line make it easy for you to meet other people around your age?

Answer: Absolutely! In fact, most family-friendly cruise lines have teen clubs on their ships. These cruise lines are: Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruise Lines, Cunard Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International. In the teen club/disco, you can take part in programmed activities, come to hang out with friends, or dance at the nighttime disco.

Question: Are the activities planned out, or do you do more of your own thing?

Answer: Every day there is a list of activities available. These activities are more plentiful on sea days (i.e., days when the ship doesn't stop at a port) and with more variety as well. Activities range from rock climbing to poolside games to movie screenings. Usually you'll find something you can enjoy; but if not, the pool is always open.

Question: Is there a set time to eat, or can you eat whenever you want?

Answer: On most cruise lines, dinner times are approximately 6 p.m. (for early seating) and 8:15 p.m. (for late seating). There are usually two main dining rooms for dinner, as well as a buffet restaurant which has no set dining time, and usually at least one specialty restaurant. However, on select lines like Norwegian Cruise Line, you can eat "whenever." On these lines, there is no set time for dinner and more restaurants to choose from. (For more information on NCL's Freestyle Dining, see my article on Freestyle Cruising.) Lunch is served mid-day in the dining rooms (at select times), the buffet (the most popular place for lunch), and out by the pools. Breakfast is also served in the dining rooms (at select times), and at the buffet.

Question: Do you have to get dressed up a lot, or is it mostly casual?

Answer: This really depends on which cruise line you sail on. Fancier lines such as Celebrity and Cunard usually have a more formal dress code. But that does not mean other cruise lines are full of sloppy-looking people. During the day, normal, casual clothing is fine. If you plan on eating in the dining room, you might want to take into account the dress code there. Nighttime attire for women consists of: skirts, blouses, sundresses, slacks, sandals, etc. Men usually wear a button-down or polo shirt with khakis or other casual pants. The dining rooms do not allow sneakers, swimsuits or shorts.

Question: Are the rooms on the ships really as tiny as everybody says? And if so, does that affect your cruising experience?

Answer: Yes, the rooms (called cabins or staterooms) on most ships are quite small. However, there are different levels of rooms. The smallest is the inside stateroom, then the ocean-view, balcony, and suite. However, this really does not put a damper on your cruise experience. On a cruise, you are out all day long having fun; you hardly spend any time in your room. The cabin is basically for getting ready and for sleeping.

Question: What parts about cruising do you, as a teen, like the best?

Answer: First and foremost, I love exploring foreign countries and new ports. I love to travel and I find cruising an easy way to see a lot of places in a short period of time. Also I enjoy all the things there are to do on board. Royal Caribbean, for example, has a rock climbing wall on most of its ships, as well as an ice skating rink on a select few. Overall, I think cruising is the best way to experience different people and places in a fun way.

Question: Do I have to stay with my parents the whole time, or can I come and go from the teen activities whenever I want?

Answer: Yes, as a teen you can come and go from the activities whenever you feel like it. However, if you have younger siblings in the supervised kids' program, they will need your parents to sign them in and out of the activities. But as a teen, you are free to do whatever you like (within reason, of course!) Keep in mind that some cruise lines enforce a curfew, so make sure you are back in your cabin in time for that.


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