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If you’ve been toying with the idea of booking a Disney cruise, but worry that your older kids might get bored, here’s one veteran cruiser who can set your mind at ease. Meet Gabe, a 15-year old high school freshman, who lives in New Jersey. Gabe has been on multiple cruises with his two younger brothers and their parents. The family of five has traveled to the Caribbean, Mexico, and the Bahamas, on three different Disney ships, and are old pros when it comes to sailing.

For teens, so much of traveling on a cruise ship is the freedom they have to roam the ship, meet kids their own age, and well, just be teens.  They aren’t attached at the hip. They don’t have to stick with their younger sibs, and parents can be comfortable knowing they’re safe– even when not within earshot. “Disney has this app,” Gabe tells me. “You can download it and then text all over the ship.  This way, you can let your parents know where you are, see all the activities that are going on for the day, and hook up with other kids your own age.  It’s awesome!”  Leave it to Disney when it comes to inventive electronics.

When asked about his favorite hangout on board, Gabe says VIBE, the “teen only, no adults” lounge is the place to be. “One of the cool things is they have this bar where you get to mix your own non- alcoholic drinks.”  Of course this is all discretely supervised by the coolest attendants on board, who are also there to facilitate and moderate some pretty amazing activities for the teens to participate in. One of the most fun is GOTCHA, an extravaganza throughout the cruise.  It’s a game of elimination, involving code names for players.  By strategically (and secretly) placing pieces of paper with the word “poison” under your opponent’s plate at meals, he or she is eliminated from the game. The trick is to catch them eating!! The last person not to get poisoned wins a big prize of Disney Cruise line goodies from the Vibe staff.  There’s definitely never a dull moment!

For those looking for a quieter experience, the CHILL SPA is at their disposal. Again, only for teens, this full- fledged spa is the place to get a manicure, a massage or any number of other relaxing services.  Looking for recreation? Head on over to the Sports deck.  There’s a basketball court, sport simulators, and mini golf! “Looking out over the back of the ship while playing a round of mini golf is a totally different experience from your average mini golf course on land,” adds Gabe.

And here’s a special tip:  “Ask your parents to book a room in the front half or bow of the ship. Otherwise, you’ll be walking back and forth forever. And go straight to VIBE once you’re on board” Gabe had such a great time and got to know other teens right away.  “ I remember this one counselor– Josh on the Fantasy.  He’ll be in my mind forever because of his outgoing personality and great sense of humor. He made everyone laugh and feel comfortable right away.”

Activities for the entire family are planned throughout the day.  There are first run movies, Broadway quality shows in the evening, and of course, a Disney fireworks display when out at sea. Disney thinks of everything!

“It’s never boring,” adds Gabe.  And the best part is I can meet up with my family for meals, and then take off again if I want.”  Gabe’s mom couldn’t be happier.  “All of our kids have their own activities to do on board the ship, even our youngest son who is 6 loves to be aboard ship.   Because they’re all busy and engaged, we get some down time to relax and do our own thing. And the stops at each port of call allow us to spend quality family time.”

One of the nicest benefits of being on a Disney cruise is that everything is taken care of for you.  There’s down time at sea, great food and entertainment. It’s all right there at your fingertips with an array of events and activities that are broadcast daily via a newsletter.

After having been on so many cruises, Gabe has made many friends that he’s still in touch with. “Really and truly, I have had the time of my life on these trips! Thanks mom and dad!!”

Article written by Ann Forstenzer.  Ann recently completed her diploma from the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. She travels frequently with her own family.