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March 17, 2008

Parents taking a cruise with tween or teenage children know these kids enjoy their space as much at sea as they do at home. The world's most popular cruise lines have long recognized this and now offer more special hangouts and activities exclusively for them than ever before.

Combine this space with plenty of activities for the whole family and it is easy to see why cruises make for memorable family vacations, no matter what one's age. Special pricing for children up to 17 years-old generally applies on many cruises which makes a cruise a true travel value.

For example, a family of four (2 adults, 2 children) can enjoy an early December seven-night cruise with cabin credits, complimentary photos and a special gift to the Western Caribbean in a verandah cabin, with Holland America for $2,380.00, including taxes, fees and fuel surcharges . That is less than $85. Per person, per day for the family's onboard verandah cabin accommodations, 24/7 room service for those hungry teenagers, all dining options and most entertainment - including plenty for tweens and teens to do.

The following is a sample of the coolest places for older youth to hang out at sea in safe and secure settings:

Holland America Line

For the past two years, teens traveling on HAL cruise ships have enjoyed the Loft, a special lounge area designed to resemble a New York artist's studio. The setting includes music and videos, comfortable furniture, Internet access stations, video games and karaoke, big screen TVs and more. A secluded passageway leads upstairs to the Oasis, a teens-only sundeck featuring a nine-foot waterfall and cooling cave. Teens can sunbathe during the day and dance under the stars at night to the beat of a state-of-the-art sound system and laser show.

Royal Caribbean International

The cruise line's Voyager Class ships are a floating paradise for teenagers. The Living Room invites kids to hangout during the day, stocked with computers, books and games. The Back Deck provides teens with a place to sunbathe together and enjoy a buffet dinner. Fuel, the teens-only disco, is open until 2 a.m. and also provides a great place to mingle and meet new friends.

Norwegian Cruise Line

The Norwegian Dawn and Jewel feature the line's most elaborate and largest teen clubs. The Underground lounge features computers, big-screen TVs and dance floor. Youth 17-and-under have their own cinema for nightly movies or an afternoon matinee.

Disney Cruise Line

A little Disney magic makes cruising memorable for teens too. They are invited to spend time with their peers in the Aloft lounge on the Disney Wonder and The Stack on the Disney Magic. Both of these teen-only hangouts feature music, movies, video games, plasma TVs, dance floor, Internet cafe and other activities. In addition, Disney hosts the H2O Splashdown and Party in Paradise farewell bash exclusively for teens.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival's youth-oriented programming was recently expanded to include exclusive new Circle C clubs for 12-14 year-olds. Each features a dance floor, high-tech sound and lighting, monster plasma TVs with movies and music videos, touch screen jukeboxes and gaming centers with 20-inch plasma game screens. A number of ships have already been retrofitted with Circle C facilities, with several more are scheduled for this year and the entire fleet by 2010. Carnival's Club 02 facilities continue to be very popular with teen's ages 15-17 year-olds. In addition to a pulsating dance floor and the latest music and lighting systems, Club O2 features a teen-oriented library and lounge with non-alcoholic specialty drinks.

Princess Cruises

The cruise line's Grand Class ships have the largest facilities for teens. The Off Limits teen center includes plenty of games, movies, big-screen TVs and jukeboxes. On the Grand, Golden and Star Princess, teens can use their own Jacuzzi and sun deck.

Celebrity Cruises

This cruise line's Celebrity X-Club Youth Program does offer teens plenty to do, especially during the summer and holiday family travel seasons. This includes supervised theme parties, pool games, movies, sports tournaments, karaoke, talent shows, fitness activities and play stations.

Regent Seven Seas

Ultra-luxury cruise line Regent Seven Seas also offers teen programs. Regent's Club Mariner operates during the summer and select holiday sailings and gives tween and teen travelers the opportunity to enjoy a variety of exciting, interactive activities, including whale watching in Alaska and artist classes on tropical cruises, plus other unique adventure and cultural opportunities.

Crystal Cruises

Select Crystal sailings during the summer and holidays also offer older youth things to do without their parents on ultra-luxury cruises. These include games, arts and crafts, video games and other activities under the supervision of experienced activities directors. The Crystal Symphony and Serenity also feature Waves, a teen video arcade.

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