On Crystal Cruises: Fit For A Teen? We Find Out As My 15-Year-Old And I Cruise The Med

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ralph.grizzle@gmail.com (Ralph Grizzle)

My son Alex at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Crystal Cruises provides a platform for quality one-on-one time with your children.

Happy July 4th to my fellow Americans. I hope you enjoy (or enjoyed if you’re reading this late) your hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon and, of course, the fireworks.

My 15-year-old son Alex and I are in windy Mykonos (hence, the many windmills here). The Greek isle was one of Crystal Serenity’s first ports of call on the 12-night sailing billed as a “Mediterranean Masterpiece.”

At age 15, Alex isn’t alone in the teen scene on the ship. Kids number 150 of the 1,000 passengers. You’d hardly know there were that many kids on board. I’ve seen perhaps a dozen, and no unruly kids at all.

We’ve been so busy that Alex hasn’t yet participated in the teen events, although we do get a flyer in our stateroom each evening featuring  a slew of activities and offerings, including a free hour of internet for teens last night.

There are four Junior Activities Directors on Crystal Serenity. They supervise activities ranging from scavenger hunts to sports as well as manage teen movies and video games. I’ll report more about the program Teen Scene once I prod Alex to participate.

Crystal Compared To Big Ships

Crystal Cruises does not feature the waterslides found on Carnival Cruise Lines, the rock-climbing walls and zip lines on Royal Caribbean International, or the AquaDuck on Disney Cruise Line. All of these are great choices for family cruises, while Crystal typically is considered a cruise line for discerning adults. That said, Crystal could be the right mix for some families.

For example, if it’s quality time you seek with your kids, Crystal works well. Without the theme-park-like distractions of big ships, Alex and I have enjoyed lots of one-on-one time. Last night, we used my iPhone SkyView app to discover constellations from the top deck of the ship. We’ve watched a couple of movies, in Serenity’s Hollywood Theatre (with popcorn) and in our stateroom. We’ve jogged around the full-wrap-around Promenade Deck, and each afternoon so far, we’ve enjoyed ice cream on the pool deck. Today, we enjoyed time ashore in Mykonos.

On a big ship with all of its kid-friendly activities, I doubt I would see Alex much at all.

Crystal Compared To Resorts

I appreciate the all-inclusiveness of Crystal Cruises. Though many ships offer 24/7 room service, Alex was happy to learn that he could order scrambled eggs and bacon at midnight — at no charge. He’s amazed that room service can be ordered without a fee, contrary to most resorts and hotels, where even the cost of a bottle of water can bring tears to a parent’s eyes. And now, with Crystal’s new all-inclusive policy, I can get a glass of wine without signing a check, and gratuities, which can add up to quite a lot at the end of a cruise, are now included also.

As a parent, I appreciate the fact that Alex is in a safe environment. If he wants to go the ship’s library on his own to check out a DVD, I’m fine with that. It’s not like he can end up in the next city or country. The contained environment of a ship allows me to be at ease most of the time.

I’ll be reporting more this week about Crystal’s Teen Scene as well as the line’s Family Memories Program. Stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have questions about cruising with teens, please ask your questions in the comments box. Gotta go. It’s 4 o’clock, time for a scoop of Rocky Road.

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