Graduation cruise - How to make it extra special. Image is a graduation cap with tassel and a rose

Graduation Cruise – How to Make it Extra Special

If you are looking for a memorable way to celebrate your child’s years of hard work, consider a graduation cruise.

Whether it is a high school or a college graduation, a family cruise is one of the best ways to celebrate and recognize this achievement.

This article will include:

  • Why a cruise is a great way to celebrate a graduation
  • Ways to make a graduation cruise extra special
  • The best cruise lines for a graduation cruise

Graduation cruise - how to make it extra special.  Image is a cruise ship at the top with a graduation cap and diploma at the bottom

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Why a cruise is a great graduation gift

Travel is such a valuable gift. And a cruise is a great choice because it allows you to see several destinations in one trip. Cruise ships have activities and amenities that the whole family will enjoy.

Traveling with your children gives them more confidence to travel on their own later and allows them to see different cultures.

One of the biggest reasons I love the idea of a family cruise to celebrate a graduation is the family time. There is nothing more precious than that.

As your teens become young adults, it can be more and more difficult to find the time for a family vacation. A graduation cruise is the perfect way for the family to celebrate together and to spend quality time together.

Ways to make a graduation cruise extra special

Choose the right cruise line

There are several really great cruise lines to choose from, and for the most part you will have an amazing time on any of them. Keep reading further down for the ones I’d suggest you look at. The cruise lines that I would suggest you NOT choose for a family vacation with teens or young adults are ones that generally have an older crowd. Such as Holland America. While they have beautiful ships, they do have an older crowd, with less amenities and activities that will appeal to young people. Sorry Holland America.

Choose the right cruise line

Just as the cruise lines vary, so do the cruise ships within each cruise line. Most ships nowadays have a water slide, but the newer ships have some really cool features. The newer ships are bigger and have more amenities. Some of the cool things you can find on a cruise ship these days are rock climbing walls, bungee trampolines and laser tag. Some even have a race track, ice skating, or a roller coaster.

It is important to research your ship carefully as the ships have very different amenities. Your travel agent can help you with this.

Graduation cruise shirts

Graduation cruise shirts are such a fun way to make your vacation extra special. Here are a few really great options, some can be customized with the year. This is also a fun way to surprise someone with a grad cruise, give them the shirt.

Get a t-shirt for the whole family and everyone on your guest list. The shirts all come in different colors. Having coordinating t-shirts would make such a great group photo.

Oh Ship it’s a Grad Trip t-shirt

Oh Ship it's a Grad Trip shirt.  A fun way to make a graduation cruise extra special.
Photo by OhShipCruiseWear

Disney graduation shirt

I love this one. This is a really great option if you are cruising on Disney Cruise Lines. You can change the year.

Mickey mouse outline, class of 2022 and Mickey is wearing a graduation cap.  Great for a Disney graduation cruise
Photo by ZACustomApparel

Graduation Squad T-shirt

This one comes in several different colors.

Graduation squad t-shirt, a cute graduation cruise shirt idea
Photo by DiamondFamilyTees

Graduation cruise shirt

Graduation Cruise 2022 (year can be changed) written on the front of a cruise ship on a pink t-shrit
Photo by Pinehart

Grad cruise t-shirt

Personalize this graduation cruise shirt with your year.

Graduation cruise shirt in both black and white
Photo by CreativilleTees

Graduation cruise door decorations

Most cruise lines allow you to decorate the outside of your stateroom (cabin) door. Magnets are the best way to do this. There are so many great cruise magnets out there that can be personalized anyway you like. Norwegian Cruise Line apparently does not allow stateroom door decorations.

Here are some great choices that can be personalized.

Graduation cruise magnets - 3 different personalized options are shown

Graduation cruise decorations - personalized this cruise magnet with a name and year

Order a cruise line cake or decoration package

Most cruise lines offers decoration packages and/or a cake for special occasions that can be delivered to your stateroom. There is an additional cost associated with this.

Norwegian Cruise Line for example offers a “Party Package – Congratulations” that includes garland, confetti, and a 6″ cake with “Congratulations” written on it. While they may not have graduation packages in particular, a congratulations package works in this case. This of course can change, check with the cruise line if you are interested.

Let your graduate choose a shore excursion

They are the guest of honor after all. Let them choose one or all of the shore excursions. This is one way to make your grad feel extra special. They can choose whether you embark on a unique experience or relax on a beautiful beach, either way you will have a great time.

Book a celebration dinner

Consider booking a specialty restaurant to celebrate their important milestone. Reminisce about your amazing day with some delicious food in one of the alternate restaurants onboard. There may be an additional charge.


Best cruise lines for a graduation cruise is the text.  Image is a cruise ship at the top and a graduation cap with some confetti at the bottom

Best cruise lines for a graduation cruise

If you are planning a graduation cruise, here are the cruise lines I’d suggest you look into. I’d consider these to have a younger crowd than say Holland America, Celebrity Cruises or Princess Cruises. While they have beautiful ships, I would personally look at the ones below for a graduation cruise. This of course is just my personal opinion. Please research the cruise line and ship and talk to your cruise professional prior to booking to ensure the best experience for your family and friends. These are in no particular order.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean’s newer ships have some really innovative activities to keep the whole family entertained. Some of these include a surf simulator, climbing wall, ice skating rink, and a virtual reality bungee trampoline. Amenities vary ship to ship to be sure to research your ship carefully.

You might find 21 Reasons Teens will Love Mariner of the Seas helpful.

If you are planning a Caribbean cruise, you may want to consider one that stops at Perfect Day at Coco Cay. This is Royal Caribbean‘s private island and it is amazing. It has an incredible water park, beautiful beach areas, and a large pool where a pool party may just break out at any time.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruises (NCL) is another great choice. The Norwegian Prima is one of their newer ships. Some of the cool features are a speedway race track, a 10 story slide, and a tidal wave waterslide. Some of these activities do have an additional charge. Check out NCL’s website for features of their other ships.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line has a really great variety of included food venues. Some of my favorites are Guys Burger Joint (celebrity chef Guy Fieri) and the Blue Iguana Cantina. These are on most of their ships. Their newer ships The Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration have a roller coaster (they call it a sea coaster). There is an additional charge. There are lots of other activities and waterslides as well.

21 Reasons your teen will love Carnival Mardi Gras might be helpful for those cruising with high school graduates.

Disney Cruise Line

If you are a Disney fan then you may want to check out Disney Cruise Line. Keep in mind that with Disney, you will likely have more young families on board. There are also no casinos if that is an activity you enjoy. The Disney Wish is their newer ship.

The sunny Caribbean, Mexico, or visiting the historic sites on a Mediterranean cruise are all great choices for a graduation cruise.

Time goes by so quickly, travel with your kids whenever you can and create those precious memories.

If you are considering a graduation cruise but wondering will you bored on a cruise ship, then this article is for you.

Another thing to consider is a family reunion cruise. Check out these top 10 reasons to plan a family reunion cruise.