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5 best cruises for teens

25 Jan 2024
Elizabeth Wright

If you are planning a Royal Caribbean cruise with older children, you might be stuck wondering which ship is best. 

From the brand-new Icon of the Seas to smaller, revitalized ships like Navigator of the Seas, there are plenty of options for you to choose from. Activities like ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls, surfing simulators, and more will keep even the most active teens busy. 

Plus, Royal Caribbean ships have a variety of different accommodation options, so whether you want a family-friendly suite or adjoining interior rooms, you will be able to select the perfect stateroom to appease everyone in your party, even the teens who are desperate for their own space. 

Whether you're looking for a ship that's packed with WOW factors or simply a family vacation that won't leave your pockets empty, here are the 5 best cruises to take with teens. 

Read more: Why your teens (and you) will love a cruise vacation

Icon of the Seas

Icon of the Seas in Miami

Icon of the Seas is the namesake ship of Royal Caribbean's brand-new Icon Class. Surpassing the six Oasis Class ships, including the upcoming Utopia of the Seas, in terms of size, there's no shortage of activities that teens will enjoy onboard. 

From the record-breaking Category 6 water park to Crown's Edge, the largest ice rink at sea, thrilling AquaDome shows, a revamped mini-golf course, and more, your teens will surely have some brag-worthy stories to tell their friends about!

While the children are off exploring the ship, adults will love the one-of-a-kind experiences curated for them, too, including a walk-up champagne bar, swanky supper club, and Cloud 17 adults-only oasis with private pools, bars, and more. 

Aquadome Overlook

The only downside to a family vacation on Icon of the Seas is that it comes with a premium price tag. During July 2024, families can expect to pay around $2,900 per person for an interior room, while balconies are going for as much as $3,400 per person. 

Looking into 2025, prices don't drop much. The cheapest sailing in January 2025 currently starts at $2,400 per person for an inside stateroom. Prices increase again around spring break. 

Read more: Things you'll notice when cruising on the newest cruise ship

Utopia of the Seas

Utopia of the Seas overhead render

Utopia of the Seas, the newest Oasis Class ship, launches in July 2024, sailing 3- and 4-night cruises from Port Canaveral to The Bahamas. While these are shorter cruises, your teens won't be denied the best that the cruise line has to offer, as this ship is unlike any other in the class.

You can expect to find fan favorites like Central Park, the Boardwalk, Sorrento's Pizza, the Lime and Coconut Bar, and more. Utopia of the Seas, however, has many new experiences that you will not find on even Wonder of the Seas, including the cruise line's first-ever immersive train car dining experience and the longest incarnation of the Ultimate Abyss dry slide

Advertised as the world's biggest weekend, a cruise onboard Utopia of the Seas is sure to appease your teens, as they'll be able to enjoy five pools, three water slides, eight hot tubs, and 21 dining venues, among other thrills. 

Food truck on Utopia of the Seas

However, it is worth noting that any of the Oasis Class ships are great for adrenaline-loving teens. Regardless of which you select, you'll find a zip line, surf simulator, ice skating rink, mini-golf, and sports court. 

The other Oasis Class ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet are Wonder of the Seas (2022), Symphony of the Seas (2018), Harmony of the Seas (2016), Allure of the Seas (2010), and Oasis of the Seas (2009). 

Read more: 6 things to know before you book Wonder of the Seas

Odyssey of the Seas 

Odyssey of the Seas in Curacao

Odyssey of the Seas is the last Quantum Ultra Class ship constructed by the cruise line. Having only set sail in 2021, she's one of the newest ships in the fleet, too. 

While she's full of fun activities, what sets her apart from other ships is her summer itineraries in Europe. While enjoying everything that the ship has to offer, families can cruise around the Greek Isles and explore bucket-list destinations including Santorini, Mykonos, Naples, and more.  

Icon Class ships, including Star of the Seas launching in 2025, exclusively sail to the Caribbean, so you won't find much variety in itineraries. This can get repetitive, and if you want to explore ports outside of St. Maarten, Mexico, etc., you'll have to consider sailings on smaller ships. 

Onboard, you'll find an indoor SeaPlex where you can ride bumper cars, play glow-in-the-dark laser tag, or partake in a virtual reality game. 

There's also a skydiving simulator, FlowRider surf simulator, rock climbing wall, and North Star observation capsule, where your family can soar nearly 300 feet above sea level for breathtaking views of the sea and ports of call. 

While still a newer ship by today's standards, prices are not quite as high as sailings onboard Icon of the Seas. A 7-night cruise onboard Odyssey of the Seas in July 2024 starts at $1,145 per person, which breaks down to about $163 per night, making it a more affordable choice. 

Odyssey of the Seas pool at night

Other Quantum Class ships should be considered if you want to take your teens to Alaska, Northern Europe, Asia, or beyond. 

Read more: The forgotten new Royal Caribbean cruise ship: Why Odyssey of the Seas is worth your attention

Freedom of the Seas 


Freedom of the Seas is an older ship; however, she underwent a $116 million revitalization in early 2020 to update its pool deck and bring newer amenities onboard, meaning that you'll find plenty to do onboard without the price tag of newer vessels. 

You can, for instance, find a 6-night cruise onboard Freedom of the Seas starting at $445 per person in March 2025. 

Activities onboard include a surf simulator, pool deck, aqua park for younger children, water slides, rock climbing wall, ice skating rink, and much more. 

When upgraded, Freedom of the Seas received new dining options including Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen, El Loco Fresh for quick bites by the pool, Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, and Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade. 

Plus, Freedom has a redesigned teen area called Social 033, where teens can enjoy their own dedicated hangout space and play games, listen to music, watch movies, etc. 

Read more: 7 Best Royal Caribbean cruise ships for Kids (2024)

Navigator of the Seas 


Finally, Navigator of the Seas based out of Los Angeles, California is a great choice for families with teens who want to have plenty to do onboard and cruise elsewhere than the Bahamas or Caribbean. 

The 139,999 gross registered ton vessel sails out of California to the Mexican Riveria year-round. While certainly not as large as Oasis or Icon Class ships, there's still a lot to do and see onboard. 

Like Freedom of the Seas, Navigator underwent some major upgrades in 2018, totaling roughly $115 million. This means that she has some activities and venues that other Voyager Class ships, such as Voyager and Explorer of the Seas, do not, including the Rip Tide and Blaster water slides. 

Parents will love the Bamboo Room, too. Navigator is one of only two ships in the fleet with this unique tiki-inspired bar onboard! Plus, Playmakers Sports Bar is centrally located in the Royal Promenade, and Hooked Seafood is ideal for families who want to treat their teens to a delicious seafood dinner consisting of crab cakes, chowders, oysters, and more. 

Read more: 50 best cruising with kids tips & secrets

Elizabeth graduated from New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute with her M.A. in Journalism in May 2023. Growing up, she had the privilege of traveling frequently with her family and fell in love with cruising after sailing on the Oasis of the Seas her freshman year of high school. She wanted to pursue a career that highlighted her passion for travel and strengths as a writer. 

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