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  1. Excellent review!!! We cruised the Koningsdam in early January and most of what you say is the exact same for the sister ship. We enjoyed the modern art and spent time looking around at it on multiple occasions. I am the oddball that likes the BBC World productions and the live musicians that come with it! On our sailing (Southern Caribbean) a I overheard a number of people say they didn't enjoy it! I loved it in Alaska too! The Club HAL wasn't amazing (it was on our previous HAL sailings) but that was minor. My teen hung with kids from that club and they tended to meet and then go hang out elsewhere - only staying in the club a few times. I agree with the calmer comment - parties and characters are fun, but so is the rectangle pool when you make friends and just swim! Did your kids have a chance to swim at night? On a few occasions my kids wanted to skip dinner and swim - so we did! We split up and sent 1/2 the kids to eat with their grandparents and one of us stayed with the kids that swam. Why not, it is their vacation too! I am glad to see that the Grand Turk wave rider was fixed. My kids were super bummed that it was broken down when we were there. We only stayed at Maragritaville for a short bit before the kids wanted to go to the beach - so we moved. I had debated a cabana and I am glad to read it was good. In the end because their were only a couple other ships in port we found a beach spot quite easily.
  2. Hi, I am wondering is the "Linus" blanket you are referring to for Project Linus or does it have a different meaning? I enjoy reading your updates as my in-laws are considering the Grand World but haven't taken the jump to do it yet!! Happy cruising!!!
  3. I would print the documents and then take a sharpie marker to add the room number when you are assigned it. If you go to luggage drop off and still don't have it as sometimes they do assign at check in then I would make sure the bags are clearly marked with your name. One other thing, have you logged onto your online account to make sure it hasn't popped up? I would do that everyday (who am I kidding, it would likely be several times a day!) until the day I sail. When have done guarantee category a few times but have always know a week or so in advance. Have a great sailing!
  4. The 14 yo's go in another part of Club HAL and they tend to plan age appropriate activities. Sometimes they plan to go to a movie, play a game, hit the sports court, go have a snack or just hang out. Going on the first few nights is a great way to meet kids and make friends! Sometimes they do videos games, others they just sit on the couch things and chill. They also sometimes make plans to meet at the pool and again hang out.
  5. 18 night Panama Canal crossing on the Amsterdam over Christmas 2015 - aprox 120 kids 0-18 10 night Caribbean Dec 27, 2016 - aprox 250-300 kids (if my memory serves me right) 10 night January 2020 - estimated 220 kids booked as of earlier this week number may fluctuate - some agents will give a ballpark and some will not. I got a great agent this week who was happy to give a ballpark, however many months out the figure would not be anywhere near accurate. Our non HAL cruises over Christmas have had a million more kids. 😉 I agree with the above poster - if it is a 7 night you will see more kids than on a 14 (no back to backs). Given the distance we travel I don't find 7 is long enough to justify the flight cost/travel time so usually choose 10 nights or longer. Unfortunately, the pickings are slim on longer sailings (I require a kids club - not only for the kids to hang out and have a break in and meet friends, but for me to have a break!) A kids club gives a welcoming to the kids. I always find that kids tend to congregate in the Lido pool since they aren't supposed to be a the SeaView one on some ships. Sea days are the busiest, whereas port days they are few and far between. Club HAL closes for lunch and supper so you will see them lots around that point. I love kids ... and bring my own, but sometimes it is crazy busy at the pool and I also retreat to my balcony!!
  6. Absolutely!! Club HAL also had a performance talent show afternoon where the kids could get up and sing a song - they had group and individual entries! This was on an 18 night and it was about an hour long performance because their were so many performers! When my 7 yo daughter was chatting with a violinist she said she was learning and the violin and the performer was so excited about the fact she was learning twinkle twinkle. Just the little things and little extra attention they give to kids makes them feel very special!! This summer, in Alaska, they had a magician Nathan Pham (I think) and he came and did an extra show for the kids club. Then when he saw them around the ship he always stopped to visit.
  7. Thank you to the OP for mentioning this. We travel multi-generation and my four kids LOVE Club HAL. We have a cruise booked for the holiday season and thankfully will not be impacted by this change. That said, there are expecting approximately 200 kids on our sailing which is perfect as kids have a chance to get to know each other and play!! However, if the clubs go, I will be reconsidering my options which is sad because HAL has the slightly longer cruises which are attractive to us. My kids tend to drop in for part of the morning or afternoon session and again in the evening. It is a social event for them to be kids, not a daycare event!! They will spend time with us during the day on excursions, or at the pool or sports court. They also want to make friends! The kids love going down to lido for ice cream in the afternoon with the club. It's fun! Have an excursion the kids aren't interested in? They can hang in Club HAL for the morning or afternoon. We have also gone to ports I don't care to take the children off in, again, my hubby and I can take a couple hours to walk around and be back. Club HAL closes for lunch and supper so the kids spend time with the family! They will also eat dinner in the MDR 8/10 nights so they can rehash their day with their grandparents. As others have said, not every family/kid wants a vacations with the crazy wild music, parties, and non stop madness. We don't cruise for the video games!! No water slide on the ship -- ask my kids how many times they actually used it last year on another ship (I could count on one hand!) My kids preferred Club HAL to the clubs on Disney, RC and MSC. They said the big clubs are crazy, loud and out of control. Ironically, a lot of the marketing I have seen recently has been towards families!! Even the Kids Sail free promo (rather than the normal discounted kid rates) is a marketing plan to get more families on board.
  8. For Club Hal as long as they know she should be fine. The club staff are amazing. Given that there aren't usually a lot of kids they will get to know you and your child. You can also call and check in on the kids. Usually when you check in you are asked a location of where you plan to be, so make sure you write that down. Club usually has more than one staff member, and I have on a few occasions seen them looking for a parent (don't know the reasons). Oh, and they often have a snack break adventure and meals together on port days so as long as they know they can help your child.
  9. This is an easy fix. We often travel as a family of 8 (4 kids) in 2 or 3 rooms. Check in as per normal. Take the room key to whatever room your name is assigned to. Once on board, put your belongings in the room you are sleeping in. At some point the first day go to the guest services and ask for spare cards to the rooms. The people who have their name on the "wrong" rooms will now have two cards. Use the one with your name to get off the ship and the other to get into your cabin. Your room charges will be mixed up. I know I just sort it out later as my in laws don't charge many things.
  10. Announcements were long, but it was usually so loud I didn't hear them. 😝 I did know they would be in multiple languages in advance so it didn't bother me either way.
  11. I would rate MSC in the 3 night $199 Carnival category. A family member of mine used the words "a less classy crowd than HAL". We did cruise over Christmas (crazy on any ship) and found it to be okay, but not WOW. We did not do Yacht Club which is apparently better (it was sold out when we booked). MSC seemed to be less organized and professional than HAL. They were not prepared for the influx of passengers. Don't even consider having a drink delivered to you pool side as it won't happen. The service was meh. As in, not so bad to complain and get off the ship, but grin and bare it and not book again. The kids club was crazy - they lost a few kids on different occasions from what I heard. The productions shows were sort of repetitive with some good ones mixed in. I never knew what type of show we would get - some were good for kids others not, but you wouldn't know until you were at it. To the person with the comment about too many kids ... you may want to rethink your future HAL cruises as they are marketing kids sail free, along with a lot of family geared things in the advertising. At this point we only have traveled HAL at school breaks so there have been kids, but not a crazy number of them (200 was the most). I would say river cruising is a whole different discussion. We did a European one on Avalon and it was very classy.
  12. I agree to a degree as they do more background work. HOWEVER, we were in Costa Rica in December 2015 and one of the HAL crocodile tour boats was bumped by another boat and several passengers fell off. The tour guides apparently did nothing and fellow passengers completed the job of getting passengers back on board and performing first aid. After that I am aware of one passenger unit who did not return to the cruise and a few others had neck braces for the remainder of the cruise. So so that said, accidents can happen to both on Cruise line tours and independent ones. That event changed my view on cruise line only tours as there are some amazing independent operators out there (like this one was!)
  13. We did the holiday Panama Canal full crossing in December 2015 on the Amsterdam. It was excellent. There was just enough Christmas but not over kill. I hope to do it again some day when my kids are older I can see the crossing rather than be the parent at the Lido pool 🤣🤣. My husband and in-laws really enjoyed the canal and locks 😜.
  14. If you linked your reservations you should be able to go to the excursions and add the appropriate passengers from each room. I do do all the booking and usually end up booking my father in law or my kids on tours and we have 2-3 rooms 👍.
  15. Totally agree with most of the comments above! We have sailed over the holiday season 2x with HAL and my kids loved it (I have posted before about it). We have said a 18 night Panama Canal where there were around 100 kids on the Amsterdam and then also the Nieuw Amsterdam a 10 night Western and there were about 200 kids. Club HAL was excellent; though my kids preferred the Amsterdam staff. I always say if a kid is happy in a plain rectangle pool they will be fine. If they need a slide, an entertainer and everything about them they will be bored. As a comparison we have also sailed Disney 2x and the entertainment and activities were great but my kids didn’t care for the clubs (massive kid overload!). We went on RC’s Oasis and thought it was okay, but service wasn’t as good as HAL. We also had a bad week as almost all the shows were cancelled multiple times. There were a lot of kids! This past Christmas we sailed MSC. It was okay. Not wow let’s book again but okay as it covered ports I wanted to see! Entertainment was okay - however kids club for example was advertised LEGO theme - but they only had that theme for one day so that was disappointing to my LEGO lovers. My FIL described the crowd on the ship as “less classy than HAL” - not sure if it was because it had a large international blend or what, but I do have to agree. After all that, we are sailing with HAL this holiday season and like you, optimistic that there will be some other kids on board, as we aren’t ready for the geriatric unit yet 😬. We also travel as a multi generation family and the kids will be 7,9,11,13. I wouldn’t choose HAL for the kids unless it was a time kids are off school (except Alaska, however I am hoping there will be some kids on board when we go!)
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