Planning a family cruise vacation with older teens? Here are the top 3 cruise lines for cruising with 18 year olds.

Best Cruise Lines for 18 Year Olds {Top 3}

Having an 18 year old myself, here are what we’d consider the best cruise lines for 18 year olds.

We’ll outline the top 3 cruise lines for a family cruise vacation with older teens (in our opinion).  As well as our reasons, a few highlights, and also list some other cruise lines that you could consider also.

If you are planning a family cruise vacation with older teens you will wat to know the best cruise lines for 18 year olds.  Here are the 3 best cruise lines for older teens in my opinion.

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The cruise ships within each cruise line vary greatly.  The newer ships are bigger, have more activities, some super cool features, and more dining options.  You may even be surprised at some of the activities on cruise ships in recent years.

I’d recommend choosing a newer ship when cruising with teens.  The newer ships are the best cruise lines for teens.  As mentioned in Top 12 Tips for Cruising with Teens, choosing the right ship is critical.

Here is my opinion of the top 3 cruise lines when cruising with 18 years old’s, in no particular order.

The Best Cruise Lines for 18 Year Olds

#1.  Royal Caribbean Cruises

Super Cool Activities

Royal Caribbean International has some of the best and coolest activities that will appeal to and keep older teens busy.  And a bonus is that many of them are included in your cruise fare.

Royal Caribbean’s newer ships have things like:

  • An ice-skating rink
  • Surf simulator
  • An escape room (extra fee)
  • Bungee trampoline with virtual reality
  • Laser tag
  • Bumper cars

Refreshment Package

Royal Caribbean ships have a great non alcoholic drink package that will appeal to young adults and teens.  Rather than just a soda package that most cruise lines offer, the refreshment package includes much more. 

Frozen mocktails, soda, bottled water, premium teas and coffee, and milkshakes are all included.

You must be 21 to drink alcohol on Royal Caribbean cruises departing from North America.

Perfect Day at Coco Cay

Royal Caribbean has an amazing private island that teens will absolutely love.  It has an awesome water park, beautiful beaches, and an amazing pool and it’s all just for Royal Caribbean cruise guests. 

If you are looking at Caribbean cruises, look for one that stops at Coco Cay.  Bonus – the refreshment drink package works here.

There are several great Royal Caribbean ships, but here are a few in particular that you may want to check out.

  • Wonder of the Seas
  • Odyssey of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas

#2.  Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line one f the top 3 cruise lines for 18 year olds

Fun activities

Teens will stay active on a Carnival cruise with things like:

  • Roller coaster!  Crazy right?!  This is only on Mardi Gras and has an extra cost – but still!
  • Mini golf
  • Ropes course
  • Waterslides

Awesome free food options

In my opinion Carnival has some of the best free food options other than the main dining room.  Guy’s Burgers, Blue Iguana Cantina, and Shaq’s Big Chicken just to name a few.

Fun atmosphere

They don’t call themselves the Fun Ships for nothing. 

If you have younger children they will definitely want to check out the cruise line’s kids clubs.

Some of the newer Carnival ships are:

  • Mardi Gras
  • Carnival Celebration
  • Carnival Radiance

#3.  Norwegian Cruise Line

Awesome activities

NCL’s newer ships have some awesome activities than an 18 year old is sure to love. 

  • Speedway racetrack!  (on their new ship) So cool!
  • Incredible water slides
  • Galaxy Pavillion
  • Ropes course

Alcoholic Beverages Program for Young Adults

The legal drinking age on cruises departing from North America is 21 years of age.  However, Norwegian Cruise Line has a unique policy that allows 18-20 year olds to purchase and drink wine and beer with written consent of an accompanying parent.

This “Young Adult Alcoholic Beverage Waiver Form” is completed onboard at guest services.  This program applies to wine and beer only.

Some of Norwegian Cruise Lines’ newer ships are:

  • Norwegian Joy
  • Prima
  • Norwegian Encore

All 3 of these cruise lines have a younger crowd, friendly crew members, and several other activities, some of which include:

  • Pools
  • Hot tubs
  • Outdoor movie nights
  • Deck parties
  • Video Arcade
  • Evening shows
  • Live music
  • Dance classes

Remember, each cruise ship has different amenities, activities, and food options.  Be sure to research your ship before booking.

Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruise Line are the three cruise lines we always look at when choosing a family vacation with our older teens.  We have cruised on them all and love them all.

If you are looking for more options, check out the following cruise lines.

Disney Cruise Line

Fans of Disney will want to chek out the Disney cruise ships, such as Disney Wish or Disney Magic, as well as Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

Disney often has young families on board, but there is definitely something for everyone.


MSC Cruises

Celebrity Cruises

Princess Cruises (P&O Cruises)

The 3 listed above all have beautiful ships with a range of activities.  They just don’t have the super cool amenities that Carnival cruises, Royal Caribbean and NCL have.

Holland America is one that I probably would not consider when cruising with 18 year olds.  They are known to have an older crowd.

I know I’d have a great time on any of these cruise lines.  But if I’m taking our teenagers, I choose between Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Shorter cruise tips like 3-night weekend cruises often have more younger passengers, college students and a more party atmosphere.  Depending on your viewpoint this will be a positive or negative thing.  Your teen may leave with several new friends.

Top 3 cruise lines for a family cruise with older teens

Can 18 year olds cruise alone?

Most major cruise lines departing from the United States and Canada have minimum age requirements that state at least one person in the stateroom (or connecting stateroom) must be at least 21 years old.  Some require the accompanying person be 25.  Check with your travel agent or on the cruise line’s website for specifics.

Royal Caribbean has a different policy for cruises departing from South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  Cruises departing from these international ports have a minimum age of 18 to cruise alone. 

To summarize, in our opinion, and in no particular order, the best cruise lines for 18 year olds are:

  • Carnival
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Norwegian Cruise Line

If you are planning a family cruise vacation with your older teens, my best advice is just go. The sad reality is that you probably don’t have many family vacations left. As the kids get older university and their work schedules get in the way. Travel as a family while you can.

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