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About CGYCruisingFamily

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Calgary, AB
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    St. Maarten

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  1. My mom and dad were recently on thE NS and said CO was virtually empty most of the time. At its busiest, the saw maybe 3 tables filled. Seems like a flop to me...
  2. Hi Hubbard53 - we have done multiple cruises on HAL with our kids and they have always had lots to do. There is Club HAL which had 3 age groups. The youngest will not be applicable as your youngest is 8 (meaning the tween age group). The oldest at 13 will be in a different group called the Loft. Our kids are 10 and 13. Club HAL was open until 11 pm each nigh on our Christmas cruise. On previous cruises it was open until 10 but they could stay after that for $5 per hour per child. Talking with the councilors, they said the change to the later was done on other ships too. You will need to sign any child under 12 in and our of Club HAL but the 13 year old will have freedom to sign themselves in and out. The facilities for the kids on the NS look amazing. With it being a Spring Break cruise you will likely have a lot more kids than at other times. The activities usually run through the day with breaks on sea days for both lunch and dinner. In Port, Club HAL is usually open from 9-4 and there is no extra cost to utilize - unlike some other lines. Activities wise, our 13 year old mainly ended up playing game with some of the other teens he met on board. There is planned activities but I think in the Loft, it might be a little more less structured based on what the kids want to do. As for the program for the tweens, the generally will have special nights with activities, games, crafts, sporting activities, ISYSWASFIC, etc. If you want more info, I brought home all the daily activity forms and can take a look for you. The biggest thing you will notice is there is definitely fewer kids on board vs what you might expect on a Disney cruise. We have never done a Disney as the price is too high for our budget. We have always been treated well on HAL with the kids and our kids love it. Questions, please ask. We are all 3* Mariners - and our kids have over 85 days on HAL.
  3. I actually disagree. HAL is a good multigenerational cruise line and it depends on your families likes and dislikes. Not everyone is into Disney or more importantly can afford Disney and the Club HAL program, from our experience, was better than the NCL program. To the OP, Club HAL has always been a good program for our kids. We found on a trans Pacific we did when there were only 4 kids on board including our 2, that the program was scaled back timewise but the leader was excellent. She actually worked with the families schedules and modified times based on us (Neither family ever went in the morning because it was homework time for the kids, so she stayed open later at night instead). Having said that, we just got off a 17 day circle Hawaii and were surprised on the holiday cruise with 60 under 12’s that they combined the 3-7 and 8-12 groups into one with 2 councillors for that age group.. Not overly fair to our 10 year old to be doing activities for 3 year olds. The program was still chalked full of activities but not all age appropriate. Our son decided most days to do the many activities on board during the sea days and at night when the ages in Club HAL were older, he went. There were also 40 Teens on board and one councillor for the Loft. Our older son often would go play games at night with them but said they often didn’t follow the Loft schedule. Hours it was open 9-11:30, 1-4 and 7-11 pm on the cruise we got off on Monday. There was no paid late night activities like in the past as they extended the nightly hours compared to the previous 10 pm closing.
  4. We did have the website pulled up where it clearly states all guests on the same booking number and in the same room receive the same benefits but the front desk would not honour it. They just played dumb and would not respect what is clearly written on their own site. One of our 5*’s was told no thermal spa even for them. I did have a very good talk with the Mariner Society Tuesday and she said the ship was 100% in the wrong. Our biggest issue was the tendering for one port. The ship was trying to say our party had to be split and only the 5*’s would be able to go when they wanted (thus leaving their kids and grand kids behind). Ultimately the MS said they will be working to educate the ship better. It’s unfortunate there is so much discrepancy between the program and ships and what almost seems animosity towards 5*’s and those who have supported the cruise line with their loyalty. PS- agree about the Mariners Lunch, one of the best we’ve ever had.
  5. We got off the Amsterdam today and in one room, the Reno’s had not been done and in the other they had. We were not on deck 6 so I’m not 100% sure about those rooms but in the room that had been done, the cupboard was now open shelves.
  6. You’re lucky they gave in. We got off the Amsterdam today and had been in the same situation but they would not budge - even though we were on the same booking number and room as 5* Mariners. We had even taken the steps of multiple calls to the Mariner Society prior to the cruise to confirm what is on their site which clearly says all people under one booking number and in the same room with receive the benefits of the highest Mariner. The front desk put it on Seattle. There will be a long conversation tomorrow with both guest relations and also the Mariner Society.
  7. Ditto! We’ve always had passports and now require them to even enter the States. Our kids have had them from 3 months old and onwards. We had US friends a few years ago who were denied boarding on their HAL cruise because they didn’t have a passport for their son, just a copy of a birth certificate. They found this out while checking in at the port. They were reasonably seasoned travelers and had cruised before and had never had one for him. Ultimately, their $6000 + holiday cruise was to be a total loss because they thought it wasn’t required. Well the cruise they had booked stopped in a port that required passports for all Americans and passengers. They watched the ship depart without them that afternoon. HAL did work with them and did get them onto another cruise leaving the next day that didn’t require a passport for any of the stops. But realistically, HAL didn’t need to. i am always shocked to hear of travelers who don’t get passports including my friends and I told them it was stupid to not have passports because, so much of the world is opened for exploration with that little book...
  8. We did the Nieuw Amsterdam in 2014 and there was about 200 kids on board in August.
  9. I should clarify my comment is about the overnight VIA train as you wont see the views. The Rocky Mountaineer only goes through the day. While it is not the cheapest, it is a true experience.
  10. Then there is no point to take the train as you wont see any of the views. If you take the overnight, you might as well fly the 1 hour between Vancouver and Calgary over the mountains then drive to Banff (1.25 hrs from YYC airport) or Lake Louise (just over 2 hours). The bonus of the Rocky Mountaineer is it is all done in the daylight so you get to see the Rockies in their glory. To my knowledge, HAL does not do the Rockies but there are options. I would look at the Rocky Mountaineer. Or as mentioned, do the quick flight then venture back into the mountains. I live in Calgary and am from Vancouver originally. The drive (or train) through the Rockies is spectacular, especially for those who have never seen the vastness of the mountains.
  11. I Heard they no longer had lunch in the MDR but I could be wrong. We will find out Friday.
  12. As a travel agent, these notifications have been coming for my clients more regularly especially when there are multiple ships in port. When they first started sending them, there was no mention of 4 or 5* Mariners getting on early. I can personally say that when we travel and have to check out of our hotel early, I dont want to wait until 2-3 pm to board. What is my family supposed to do for those 3-4 hours?
  13. Just bought 2 soda cards for our 17 day holiday cruise today. That combined with our 2 beverage cards we got for 3rd and 4th passenger - hoping that should do us for most of the cruise. We also will get a discount this time round thanks to our moving up in Mariners status so if we want some cans, we can get them at the Explorations Cafe or mini bar. We like getting the soda cards because we dont have to worry about signing to our room and can give our kids one to use through the cruise (we wont give them signing privileges until they are much older). This will be the first time with beverage cards so we will save those for "special" drinks...
  14. We've thought of that but I know the way I sleep the pillows would be all on the ground. We have been in those rooms enough we are good at it now. But the first time it was a daily occurrence for both myself and my DH.
  15. Absolutely the J and K category rooms are suitable. Those are our go to rooms with 2 adults and 2 kids and by far have been the largest of the rooms we have been in on HAL (we dont do suites). There is more than enough room for 3 (or in our case 4) people in the room with room to spread out too if you 4 year wants to play in the room a bit. The room is a large square room with the sectional/sofa bed on one side as you enter and the bathroom on the other side. There are I believe 3 large cabinets lining the one wall and the bed is opposite that. The biggest thing we have found is we do not trip over the furniture like we have in other rooms. We have been in 1034, 1038 and 1068. In 1068 on both the Oosterdam and the Nieuw Amsterdam we could hear BB Kings nightly but in 1034 and 1038 nothing. My uncle and aunt have been on the other side of the ship and they couldnt hear anything. I would recommend looking closely at a deck plan to see what the room is under, especially with a 4 year old who might go to bed before the final BB Kings performance. The pull out is a single pull out and our youngest has been on the sofa bed in those rooms and it has always been great. The biggest issue we have had is with the pullman and its location as it is right above our heads - we have learnt how to get out of bed without hitting them, but usually once per cruise we do knock our noggins pretty good, then we get into the habit of sitting up sideways. If your 4 YO falls out of bed, he would fall onto you and the bed if in the pullman. If you have any questions at all about cruising with your 4YO on HAL, please ask. We have been cruising HAL with our kids since the youngest was 3 and we are super familiar with the ships - especially the NA (our favourite of the ships we have sailed on). Here is a link to HAL Faces showing the Eurodams 1048 - same room layout as the ones I mention: http://halfacts.com/1048-eurodam/
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