Jump to content
Djk2018

Is Club HAL always this anemic?

Recommended Posts

Currently on a 22 day cruise with the kids, 2 years in the planning.  Most days (sea days), Club HAL is only open 3.5 hrs a day, and 2 hours in the evening! It’s open 9a-11a and 2p-3:30 then 7p-9p. The single provider staffing it is trying hard, but it seems they are understaffed and so they are only able to provide a few hours of coverage a day.  Is this typical for most cruise lines kids clubs?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How many kids are there?  A 22 day cruise usually wouldn't expect very many...EM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We did a transatlantic in 2010 with only 17 children on board (2 were officers kids). There was only one staff person, but she was absolutely amazing.  The teen section was open till 11 each night.  The two younger age groups were combined- so there was a 3-9 year  group and a 12-18 year  group.  The staff person took the younger kids on adventures around the ship-- one we saw them all dressed as pirates parading through the lido demanding snack booty (led by the staff person).  The staff person had a good bit of leeway to tailor the experience to the actual kids on the ship for example rearranging the age groups to let the 12 year hang with the teens w/ parent permission and allowing an 18 year to hang with the teens (the 12 year old and 18 year old were both ours, we also had a 6 year old in the younger group).  We were absolutely wowed by the experience.

 

However, around 2013 the HAL experience changed radically.   Kids just stuck in HAL room watching movies. Zero flexibility.  Insisted that we "sign" out our 11 year old in person rather than have her meet us (which meant we could not go to a show or dinner without leaving in the middle).   Very few activities. More like over cautious nannies than a fun club.  Thankfully, our children have aged out of HAL.  I used to rave to people about our kids experience in HAL, but now I warn them to not expect much more that limited hour baby sitting. 

Edited by DeirdreTours

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, Djk2018 said:

Currently on a 22 day cruise with the kids, 2 years in the planning.  Most days (sea days), Club HAL is only open 3.5 hrs a day, and 2 hours in the evening! It’s open 9a-11a and 2p-3:30 then 7p-9p. The single provider staffing it is trying hard, but it seems they are understaffed and so they are only able to provide a few hours of coverage a day.  Is this typical for most cruise lines kids clubs?

HAL isn't really for kids.  Disney would be a good choice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, Nymich said:

HAL isn't really for kids.  Disney would be a good choice.

If you win the lotto, sure. I priced our upcoming HAL cruise against a comparable Disney cruise. Same size cabin. 7 day cruise for a family of 4. Disney = $8700 HAL = $1900. I have to admit the Disney price even shocked me and we go to the parks for a week every year. Even on their 20 year old ship, an inside goes for $200+ a night per person with 3rd and 4ths running $100 each a night. 

Disney is no option for us. 

 

To OP, what ship are you on? Also, a 22 day cruise wouldn't draw many families due to school. That makes a huge difference. Are they no longer offering paid after club hours care like they used to? We always had good experiences with Club HAL but if they are cutting back on services to intentionally reduce further the number of families who want to cruise HAL, that is good info to know. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Club HAL really varies depending on how many kids are on board.  We did the South America/Antartica cruise 2 years ago with 3 kids over Christmas/New Years.  Club HAL was fantastic, taking kids to the various speakers and activities around the ship. On that trip I think HAL was open 9-11am, 2-5pm and again 7-10pm. We were incredibly fortunate that all the kids in Club HAL seemed to be in the same age range as my kids (8-11 at the time).  The kids would even meet before dinner at the Lido pool to play pool games, chess and ping pong.  The last two cruises we did my kids never even went to club hal. They are bit older and happy just to roam on their own, hang out in the exploration lounge playing games etc. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

22 days -- long cruise

 

Nearly the middle of January -- schools are in session and not all children can take off during this time and not all children are home schooled.

 

If you have more than 1 person working Club HAL -- be lucky.

 

We have been on 21 day cruises and there was only 1 person working Club HAL.

 

On shorter cruises -- like 7 day cruises during holidays and when children are out of school, there can be quite a number of children on the ships and usually up to 4 workers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Nymich said:

HAL isn't really for kids.  Disney would be a good choice.

 

Sorry, but I strongly disagree with this statement everytime I see it.     HAL is for kids and ours have had wonderful experiences in Club HAL over the years.    

 

I would argue NO cruise line is "for" kids when school is in session. 

In addition, no matter the time of the year... the longer the cruise, the higher probability the passenger list will skew older.  

 

 All of the cruise lines schedule kid programming based on the number of kids they have on the manifest.   It is quite common for a cruise line to fly a "camp counselor" in for just a week because of a high number of kids on the reservation list.    

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On our 10 day New England cruise in Ict. there was a baby about 10 months old. Only child on the cruise. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Djk2018 said:

Is this typical for most cruise lines kids clubs?

No.

 

It might be typical for Holland America. The only thing I can find on HAL's website about the program is:

"Holland America Line's youth activities program, Club HAL, offers an array of entertaining events for kids and teens ages 3-17, supervised by a full-time, professionally trained staff. They'll have an opportunity to join other kids their age for arts and crafts, sports, video game competitions, scavenger hunts, challenging team games and themed parties. Club HAL is offered on board all ships except for ms Prinsendam and ms Maasdam."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am guessing they are on Zaandam in S. America. That is the only 22 day itinerary I see on Cruise Mapper for HAL atm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our family has cruised with hal for many years and have never once been tempted to take a Disney cruise or a cruise on one of the huge ships with rock climbing walls, flowriders etc. My kids never really spent much time in the kids club because they would rather do things with us around the ship. It is very true however, that the lower the number of children on board, the more difficult it is to find programming that appeals to all age groups.  They often combined age groups when there's fewer kids so that's a pretty tough crowd to please.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We’ve just booked 29 day Jewels of the Baltic and Viking Passage. Apparently last year there were 5 kids in total. From what I am reading above, Zuiderdam will have a kids’ club but it will be limited and all kids in together?

 

Ours aren’t terribly fussed about it but nice to have the option. On our two previous cruises, they usually chose a few activities to attend. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Nymich said:

HAL isn't really for kids.  Disney would be a good choice.

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.

Edited by CGYCruisingFamily

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Djk2018 said:

Currently on a 22 day cruise with the kids, 2 years in the planning.  Most days (sea days), Club HAL is only open 3.5 hrs a day, and 2 hours in the evening! It’s open 9a-11a and 2p-3:30 then 7p-9p. The single provider staffing it is trying hard, but it seems they are understaffed and so they are only able to provide a few hours of coverage a day.  Is this typical for most cruise lines kids clubs?

I'm sorry you are running into this on your trip. Club HAL is a usually fantastic program- your kids are missing out on a lot of fun!

We primarily only cruise when school is in session and on long cruises. There have been some sailings in which our kids are the only ones onboard. We have never been on a sailing where there is only one Club HAL counselor. I'm guessing something came up last minute with the other Club HAL counselor- broken contract or illness, perhaps. On sea days they should be open 9-11:30am, 1-4pm & 7-11pm.  

On one cruise, the counselors crossed off the closing time of 11pm and changed it to 10pm. We called them on it and they made up a bogus reason for the change. At the next port we contacted our TA, who contacted Seattle (HAL HQ). The next day we received an apology from the staff and the the normal hours resumed. 

Club HAL staff are part of the entertainment department. I wouldn't bother talking to the front desk, but reaching out to the entertainment director to share your concerns. If you get nowhere, perhaps you could try contacting your TA/Seattle. 

p.s. Our kids are 4 star mariners and absolutely love HAL above all other lines. The comment that HAL is not really for kids is an urban myth that gets brought up on nearly every kid related thread on this board- but rarely (perhaps, never?) by someone who has actually brought kids on HAL!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, CGYCruisingFamily said:

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.

I'm surprised about this. That is a lot of kids and not enough counselors. Your recent experience, and the OP's, makes me wonder if Club HAL is one of the newest victims of cutbacks? Fingers crossed this is not the case! 

We were on the NS in December for the crossing. Seventeen kids were on board (including teens) and there were three counselors. The kids & tween programs were combine, which is not unusual for sailings with few children, but they tailored activities to all ages. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our last cruise over Easter last year on the Veendam there were 80 teenagers, I am not sure the other group numbers. But the one  person they had in there for them it was her first cruise. She said there were too many of them and just locked the door and told them to hang out in the basketball court. The teens were left up to their own.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, HALrunner said:

I'm sorry you are running into this on your trip. Club HAL is a usually fantastic program- your kids are missing out on a lot of fun!

We primarily only cruise when school is in session and on long cruises. There have been some sailings in which our kids are the only ones onboard. We have never been on a sailing where there is only one Club HAL counselor. I'm guessing something came up last minute with the other Club HAL counselor- broken contract or illness, perhaps. On sea days they should be open 9-11:30am, 1-4pm & 7-11pm.  

On one cruise, the counselors crossed off the closing time of 11pm and changed it to 10pm. We called them on it and they made up a bogus reason for the change. At the next port we contacted our TA, who contacted Seattle (HAL HQ). The next day we received an apology from the staff and the the normal hours resumed. 

Club HAL staff are part of the entertainment department. I wouldn't bother talking to the front desk, but reaching out to the entertainment director to share your concerns. If you get nowhere, perhaps you could try contacting your TA/Seattle. 

p.s. Our kids are 4 star mariners and absolutely love HAL above all other lines. The comment that HAL is not really for kids is an urban myth that gets brought up on nearly every kid related thread on this board- but rarely (perhaps, never?) by someone who has actually brought kids on HAL!

 

Great feedback, thank you! How did your kids find the cruise when they were the only ones? Ours will be 9 and 11 at time of sailing. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Jareds_mommytoo said:

Our last cruise over Easter last year on the Veendam there were 80 teenagers, I am not sure the other group numbers. But the one  person they had in there for them it was her first cruise. She said there were too many of them and just locked the door and told them to hang out in the basketball court. The teens were left up to their own.  

I would have called HAL on that one. The teens designated area being closed on the whim of one staff member and no activities planned for them at all? That is unacceptable. Was there only one staff member for the entire Club HAL over Easter break? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Win a Cruise with the Most Highly-Awarded Small Ship Cruise Line in Alaska
      • Q&A with Daniel Skjeldam, CEO Hurtigruten
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Community Contests
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×