Cruising with Teens

When my 16 year-old daughter gets the blues, everyone suffers. It’s not that she means to be difficult or snappy, her moods just make her unhappy and she isn’t very good at keeping it to herself. I try to talk her through it, but sometimes a teenager’s mind is just going to do what it’s going to do. When my husband and I started trying to plan a summer vacation for the family, we consulted our daughter, hoping the prospect of an exotic trip would snap her out of her funk. At first she said she didn’t want to go on any vacation whatsoever, no matter where it might be. She wanted to stay home, hang out with friends and watch television. But, soon enough, after days of gentle coercion on my part (we need some family time, girlfriend!) she started to come around.

She came to us with one idea: the beach. She loves swimming, sun bathing and being lazy (who doesn’t?) and as she thought about the other option (going on an educational trip to Europe, for example) she realized she’d better share her opinion before we started planning something without her. We weren’t thrilled about her idea. I didn’t want her sitting around in a bikini unsupervised in an exotic place. But then we came up with a compromise: the cruise.

Cruising isn’t something we’ve done a lot of, not since our daughter was young, but it appealed to us for several reasons. First, you can’t get lost on a cruise ship. I loved the idea of letting our daughter loose to go sun bathe, talk to boys, what have you, without any real risk of her running off somewhere. Second, the rules on cruise ships are strictly enforced by the staff, and they tend to keep pretty close track of their guests without being intrusive. I knew I could let her go explore without worrying about her drinking. There is no way they are going to serve an underage kid on one of those ships.

We talked about it as a family and decided on Mexico. Our ship left out of Florida, and cruised to the beautiful (and typical) Mexican cities: Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. The ship, a massive Royal Caribbean party vessel, included several great deck spots, a pool, an ice skating rink (seriously), a basketball court, a climbing wall and a mini-golf course. My daughter had about a million activities to keep her busy and my husband and I got some actual alone time.

We got separate cabins, which I highly recommend if you’re traveling with your teenager, and brought along one of her girlfriends to keep her company (and keep the room safe from the millions of teenage boys on the boat).

The ports were extremely touristy, as you might expect, but they had a lot to offer too. We went on a family snorkeling expedition and got to swim with dolphins. We watched some amazing locals diving off of an impossibly high cliff into the impossibly shallow waters beneath. We even got to visit the Negro Modelo brewery, which kept my husband happy. All in all it was an enjoyable trip for all involved with only a few moody episodes. I highly recommend the cruise teen vacation!