Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Please look for and post on existing COVID-19 threads before posting a new one.
otters92

Warning to all Families with Children Traveling on Holland America’s Oosterdam

Recommended Posts

7 minutes ago, LMaxwell said:

HAL Shoreside telling me this is a trial only and no other plans.  Asked them to put it in writing or refund my upcoming cruise.  Let's see what they choose 

Go to the link in post #46 above, and then check post #54. Sounds different from what you were told. Perhaps Shoreside HAL can confirm one way or another.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, cat shepard said:

Go to the link in post #46 above, and then check post #54. Sounds different from what you were told. Perhaps Shoreside HAL can confirm one way or another.

My cruise is in March that says club HAL dead in Feb.  smart move in middle of 7 night Caribbean season.  HAL has not responded to my TA yet 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone who has taught kids from 12 to 17, I am horrified at OP's description of this new kid program. How could ANYONE think it's OK to lump all the kids together??? I wouldn't put 12-year-olds with 17-year-olds, much less kids 7 or 8. 

 

Club HAL is partly to entertain kids and partly to keep them safe--babysitting. Letting kids leave on their own is crazy! A little kid is going to be curious to "see the ship" and wander God knows where. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad think their child is safe and supervised. 

 

HAL has made some poor moves lately, but this it beyond anything I could have imagined.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

HAL has made some poor moves lately, but this it beyond anything I could have imagined.

Orlando Ashford is the worst thing that could ever have happened to HAL (IMHO).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, retafcruiser said:

Orlando Ashford is the worst thing that could ever have happened to HAL (IMHO).

If you read my post on page 2 I said the same thing in unkind words!!!!!
Denise😊

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, otters92 said:

My family just returned from a Thanksgiving week vacation aboard the Holland America Oosterdam.

 

Prior to departure while attempting to register our 7 year old son for Club HAL, we were notified the Club HAL no longer existed and had been replaced by “High Score!”

 

High Score is a play area with video, arcade-style and board games for children 7-17. It seems at first like an entertaining place, but as a replacement for Club HAL, it is woefully inadequate.

 

First of all, there is no procedure for signing children in and out. We were told that once we gave our permission for our 7 year old to attend, he could enter and go as he pleased. This meant that if we left our son there, he could leave by himself or with any other child up to 17 years old to wonder the ship.  (The flyer we received says “Kids and teens are free to come and go from High Score! on their own.” Our only option to prevent our son from leaving on his own was to sign a waiver barring his entry for the duration of the cruise.)  We knew right away that this would not work for us.

 

In addition to the lack of security for children, there were no longer any planned activities and projects for children 7-17. Gone was all the “Camp-at-Sea”-types  of programming that my son so much looked forward to on a cruise. My son did not form the usual friendships he has on previous cruises. He had to spend the entire cruise with his parents. And while we do cherish time spent as a family, our family vacation was drastically changed. One of the reasons my wife and I enjoy cruising is because it gives us the opportunity to be able to enjoy spending time as a couple, comforted by the knowledge  that our son is being well-cared for and is having a good time.

 

The biggest issue, however, was lack of supervision of the children (and adults) in the play area. The High Score! game space was completely understaffed. There were only two staff members assigned to the entire area, and most of their time was spent monitoring the door to make sure that those who entered were authorized to be there.  At times there were more than 40 children and adults playing in the game area.  (Adults were allowed to visit with their children during “Family Time” between 7 and 10pm.)  Additionally, the staff informed us that they were not allowed to intervene if children were being left out or were not treating each other right. We saw multiple instances in which an older kid (usually pre-teen) took over a game and pushed the younger kids out. We also witnessed teenage children commenting on how “good looking” another child was.  My child was definitely not prepared for the “survival of the fittest” environment created by the older kids. The older kids were in charge with almost no supervision or guidance in this “Lord of the Flies”-like atmosphere.  (We witnessed all these activities during Family Time; who knows what went on during the rest of the day when there were no parents present.)

 

We knew from before the cruise departed that this new setup was not going to work.  While the staff and guest relations representatives apologized repeatedly and profusely, they kept reiterating that the decision was out of their control and that corporate (Holland America Lines) was the entity imposing this change.  They also said that the Oosterdam was the first ship to make the switch, but that all HAL ships would be making the transition away from Club HAL to High Score! within the coming year.

 

Please contact Holland America and your travel agents prior to going on a cruise with Holland America.  The eradication of Club HAL will drastically change the outlook for any family with children. For my part, I will never sail Holland America again with my child unless this decision is reversed.

 

(Please note that there is still a Kids’ Club for children ages 3-6 that requires parents to sign their children in and out. But unlike Club HAL, it is only available from 9am-noon and from 7-10pm. Also, its current iteration is in one of the small conference rooms on deck 3 and, from our perspective, is nothing at all like what Club HAL used to provide.)

The official verbage on HAL is for High Score, "

Unleash your competitive spirit at High Score!, our new family game room — on Oosterdam. By day, it’s a secret hideaway for kids and teens, where they can engage in a fast-paced flurry of four-person air hockey or contend for bragging rights in the video arcade. At night, the entire family is welcome to bond over board games, skee-ball, a tilting labyrinth and family activities.

 

High Score! is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for kids and teens ages 7-17, and for the whole family, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m."

 

Verbage for Club HAL 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 Maasdam.

Share this post


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

The message to cruisers with children is clear (if indeed this is their hard to fathom direction).

 

Cruise without your children, select other cruise lines that have a proper children's program, or cruise HAL and be prepared to place them in what appears to be an unsupervised video game (and probably revenue generating) arcade.  

 

I know what I would do if I planned to take children or grandchildren on a cruise.

Just my own opinion when I took Eurodam a couple of years ago to the Mexican Riviera 7 night we did not see that many kids.  HAL may be priced just above a family cruise unlike RCCL.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, vicd1969 said:

Please see post #54 here.

I cannot see a link; can you insert the actual address or the name of the thread?

 

Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh my goodness!  😮  What the heck is HAL thinking?  Are they trying to alienate every demographic?  Children, who have experienced Club Hal, will be disappointed.  Parents, who have left their kids at Club HAL to enjoy a romantic reconnection with their spouse, will be displeased and worried about their children's safety as they should be.  Grandparents, who long for family time and a visit with their children and grandchildren, will be overwrought about their treasured grandchildren possibly wandering the ship unsupervised.  Passengers, who have neither children or grandchildren aboard, will be angered if unsupervised kids run through the corridors, punch elevator buttons, and generally cause havoc and noise.  So, what demographic is left?  None that I can think of.

 

As a teacher in a juvenile detention facility, I can tell you that our youth are housed carefully.  Twelve and thirteen year-old children are NEVER housed with 15-16 year old teens.  Our classes are carefully constructed too, with an eye toward maturity/emotional levels and physical size.  I cannot imagine placing all of my students (I teach 12-18 year old youth) together.  It would truly result in a free-for-all.

 

OP, as a mom whose Autistic son was often thrown out of kid's programs on other cruise lines because he was bullied by other children, I appreciated HAL's program so much.  They seemed to understand and know how to handle the situation.  As a result, my son, now an adult, won't consider sailing with any other line except HAL.  At the present time, it sounds as though Club HAL will be reduced to a free-for-all, where the shy and withdrawn children are left in the dust.  So sorry your family had to deal with this change while on your cruise.  It had to be a real hassle, rather than a relaxing, leisurely week.  A real shame if HAL moves in this direction.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, vicd1969 said:
  51 minutes ago, PSR said:

I cannot see a link; can you insert the actual address or the name of the thread?

 

Thank you.

 

25 minutes ago, vicd1969 said:

 

The title would be ""Big News" on October 15th?", originally posted on Oct 14. 

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2703169-big-news-on-october-15th/

 

 

Appreciated the link. I DO remember reading that thread, but not every post. Never did look at the facebook post. Guess everyone thought it would be a "new" game room, not  imagining it would be a "replacement" for Club HAL. We don't travel with any kids, but doing away with the Club is not a good decision.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, PSR said:

Guess everyone thought it would be a "new" game room, not  imagining it would be a "replacement" for Club HAL.

Alarms are starting to go off in my head. Our cruise with kids is in February (inside penalty), and if there’s no club HAL, my wife is going to be a very, very, VERY unhappy cruiser, which will translate into a miserable cruise. 
 

We love our children and cherish the time we spend with them, but we also cherish having a few hours a day for just the two of us; going out for a nice upscale dinner, or going to the spa, or just being with each other. Creates a good family balance for us and makes us better parents. Bye bye to that during our next HAL Cruise! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

I have no children b ut reading HAL's  new 'brainstorm,'  makes me very nervous for some of  the really 'young uns'.    When  HAL  loses  the  business from families  they claim to be trying so hard to  court, maybe someone will clue  them in  .  They seem to  be trying very hard to create a dangerous and poorly supervised childrens' program.  Let's us hope they know what they are doing ...   groan..

 

 

HAL  has  been a safe and fun place for  children to vacation with their families  for many decades.  
 I sincerely hope families can still feel safe and the children still have fun.

 

 

 

Edited by sail7seas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, sail7seas said:

 

 

I have no children b ut reading HAL's  new 'brainstorm,'  makes me very nervous for some of  the really 'young uns'.    When  HAL  loses  the  business from families  they claim to be trying so hard to  court, maybe someone will clue  them in  .  They seem to  be trying very hard to create a dangerous and poorly supervised childrens' program.  Let's us hope they know what they are doing ...   groan..

 

 

HAL  has  been a safe and fun place for  children to vacation with their families  for many decades.  
 I sincerely hope families can still feel safe and the children still have fun.

 

 

 

Hi Sails😊 Well said!! 
I agree with you. 
Denise😊

Share this post


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

 

 

Guess everyone thought it would be a "new" game room, not  imagining it would be a "replacement" for Club HAL. 

This describes me! I certainly thought the game room would be in addition to Club HAL... not replacing it... ugh!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HAL official stance is send an email and they will reply on 4 weeks.  Even though I booked 48 hours ago since it was a special fare if I cancel I lose the entire amount and there is no one I am “allowed” to speak to.  

 

I will call American Express tomorrow and see if they have my back. Disgusted.  Outright disgusted.  I will not forfeit thousands of dollars.  See you at Tamarind with children in tow!!!!! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I don't want to overstate, but to me, it's a reckless decision -- truly unsafe for the younger kids.

 

Which then makes one consider whether there are other reckless decisions being made in other departments in order to save money, but which might make for a less safe journey.  I really do wonder about that.  Since there have been so many highly visible cuts, what the heck is going on behind the scenes?  Can I be confident there are ample crew members hired to perform all necessary tasks?  Is necessary maintenance being performed?  

 

There has to be order maintained on a ship at sea,  and young children free to roam and mix and mingle freely with teens is in no way maintaining order.  

 

Weirdest change yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, LMaxwell said:

HAL official stance is send an email and they will reply on 4 weeks.  Even though I booked 48 hours ago since it was a special fare if I cancel I lose the entire amount and there is no one I am “allowed” to speak to.  

 

I will call American Express tomorrow and see if they have my back. Disgusted.  Outright disgusted.  I will not forfeit thousands of dollars.  See you at Tamarind with children in tow!!!!! 


Boy, I hope AMEX stands with you in this. This is not an “operational issue”. This is a huge change in the product offered.  Their contract might cover HAL’s change, but....
 

 

Edited by cat shepard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An update:

 

I spoke this afternoon with one of the higher-ups from the Office of the President (an extension of HAL Guest Relations, but with some authority.)

 

He was really interested in my feedback and understood many of my concerns. He said that this afternoon there was an emergency management meeting to address the concerns raised by people on last week’s Oosterdam cruise regarding the kids club. (Including some complaints from people traveling without children who were upset at how children were unsupervised on the ship and the chaos that was the main dining room.)  But he sounded very much like “High Score!” is what’s coming, and Club Hal is on it’s way out, “Unless,” he said “the management decides (today) to pull the plug and reverse course.”

 

So, I know there are people reading this board who have 4 and 5 star Mariner status.  Please call whomever you know at HAL and at the travel agencies you do business with to urge them to reverse course on cancelling Club HAL. (Hopefully some of them are reading the comments on this post.)

 

One other thing. Part of the compensation offer made to my family was for $400 credit towards our next HAL cruise.  When he confirmed that our cruise scheduled for this summer is on the Nieuw Amsterdam, he said that that was the next ship scheduled to have High Score! installed, probably by this coming Spring. I confirmed with him that if this were the case, we would be cancelling that cruise. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Dulciana8 said:

This describes me! I certainly thought the game room would be in addition to Club HAL... not replacing it... ugh!

 

That's exactly what I thought, too, when I heard about the game room.  I figured HAL was trying to broaden its appeal to families.  It never occurred to me that that was the sum total of what's on offer for families with kids. 

Totally bizarre.  If they don't want kids, they shouldn't allow them, like some other adult-only lines.  But to bring them on board and offer this...just wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, otters92 said:

An update:

 

I spoke this afternoon with one of the higher-ups from the Office of the President (an extension of HAL Guest Relations, but with some authority.)

 

He was really interested in my feedback and understood many of my concerns. He said that this afternoon there was an emergency management meeting to address the concerns raised by people on last week’s Oosterdam cruise regarding the kids club. (Including some complaints from people traveling without children who were upset at how children were unsupervised on the ship and the chaos that was the main dining room.)  But he sounded very much like “High Score!” is what’s coming, and Club Hal is on it’s way out, “Unless,” he said “the management decides (today) to pull the plug and reverse course.”

 

So, I know there are people reading this board who have 4 and 5 star Mariner status.  Please call whomever you know at HAL and at the travel agencies you do business with to urge them to reverse course on cancelling Club HAL. (Hopefully some of them are reading the comments on this post.)

 

One other thing. Part of the compensation offer made to my family was for $400 credit towards our next HAL cruise.  When he confirmed that our cruise scheduled for this summer is on the Nieuw Amsterdam, he said that that was the next ship scheduled to have High Score! installed, probably by this coming Spring. I confirmed with him that if this were the case, we would be cancelling that cruise. 

I’m so glad you stood up to him!  I’d cancel

the cruise also!!

Emergency meeting ?? Hope so! I hope they are reading CC reports!!

I will be calling tomorrow as well👍
Denise😊

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, otters92 said:

An update:

 

I spoke this afternoon with one of the higher-ups from the Office of the President (an extension of HAL Guest Relations, but with some authority.)

 

He was really interested in my feedback and understood many of my concerns. He said that this afternoon there was an emergency management meeting to address the concerns raised by people on last week’s Oosterdam cruise regarding the kids club. (Including some complaints from people traveling without children who were upset at how children were unsupervised on the ship and the chaos that was the main dining room.)  But he sounded very much like “High Score!” is what’s coming, and Club Hal is on it’s way out, “Unless,” he said “the management decides (today) to pull the plug and reverse course.”

 

So, I know there are people reading this board who have 4 and 5 star Mariner status.  Please call whomever you know at HAL and at the travel agencies you do business with to urge them to reverse course on cancelling Club HAL. (Hopefully some of them are reading the comments on this post.)

 

One other thing. Part of the compensation offer made to my family was for $400 credit towards our next HAL cruise.  When he confirmed that our cruise scheduled for this summer is on the Nieuw Amsterdam, he said that that was the next ship scheduled to have High Score! installed, probably by this coming Spring. I confirmed with him that if this were the case, we would be cancelling that cruise. 

 

If what he said about an emergency meeting is true, the "concerns" raised y others were probably as angry as yours. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience, but I hope that the strong reaction to this change will stop it in its tracks.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, HALrunner said:

Thanks to the OP for the update. Can someone please share the best person/department at HAL to contact? 

guestrelations@hollandamerica.com,
socialmedia@hollandamerica.com,
pgoodwin@hollandamerica.com,
OAshford@hollandamerica.com,
"Office of the President (HAL)" <officeofthepresident@hollandamerica.com>,
skruse@hollandamerica.com,
msmith@hollandamerica.com

 

if anyone has any others let me know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, AncientWanderer said:

 

I don't want to overstate, but to me, it's a reckless decision -- truly unsafe for the younger kids.

 

Which then makes one consider whether there are other reckless decisions being made in other departments in order to save money, but which might make for a less safe journey.  I really do wonder about that.  Since there have been so many highly visible cuts, what the heck is going on behind the scenes?  Can I be confident there are ample crew members hired to perform all necessary tasks?  Is necessary maintenance being performed?  

 

There has to be order maintained on a ship at sea,  and young children free to roam and mix and mingle freely with teens is in no way maintaining order.  

 

Weirdest change yet.

 

Whilst I'm not going to get into the High Score / Club Hal discussion (My dear Mother always taught me that if you cant speak well about someone its best to not just speak at all) I can, and emphatically WILL, say that appropriate training and safety maintenance does get done onboard (just ask the numerous guests currently seeking refunds for the regrettable disturbance they have had due to the cosmetic maintenance we have been doing on some balconies lifeboat davits this cruise).

Of all the cutbacks, both real and perceived, I can categorically say that safety - in all forms such as crew training, maintenance and culture - has not been impacted. In fact it is steadily going in the other direction, with more drills, more training, more periodical servicing and overhaul of equipment, more inspections, regulations and audits etc to ensure we are at the level we want and need to be.

On a side note to that, I'd ask you to bear one thing in mind if you happen to see a little rust here and there. It takes a cycle of constant maintenance to keep ships looking rust free. The struggle from the ships crew side in keeping that rust at bay is the frustrating trend of more and more ports forbidding us to do any chipping and painting in their ports (unless we are down to the last resort, we do our very best to restrict that noisy maintenance to port days where most of the guests are ashore). My ship recently did a couple of 17 day Hawaii cruises, where we were not allowed to paint in a single port, now followed by 1 week cruises where we can only paint in 2 ports... pretty quickly that backlog starts to build up.

I'm just mentioning this as its important to differentiate between painting and maintenance, which we can do pretty much anywhere and everywhere. So if you see a ship that is not as freshly painted as she could be, please don't assume that that is symptomatic of the state of all the maintenance being done onboard

 

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
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • 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
×
×
  • Create New...