Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
otters92

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

Recommended Posts

27 minutes ago, Pepicou said:

 

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

 

Holy non-sequitur, Batman!

 

My original post had nothing to do with paint, rust or overall ship maintenance. 
 

That being said,  your post gratifies me because it shows that someone on the ship’s crew is reading this board.  If you see them, please let the staff in the kid’s club know that I am following through on my promise to them. 

Share this post


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

Holy non-sequitur, Batman!

 

My original post had nothing to do with paint, rust or overall ship maintenance. 
 

That being said,  your post gratifies me because it shows that someone on the ship’s crew is reading this board.  If you see them, please let the staff in the kid’s club know that I am following through on my promise to them. 

Hahaha, no it didnt, but I'll struggle to keep mum when someone compares the levels of entertainment onboard to the levels of maintenance being done 🙂

 

Also, I really hope that wasn't one of those threatening types of promises, because our Youth Staff are genuinely some of the nicest, sincerest and committed crew members we have. They are passionate about the Club Hal program, and doing all they can for the kids in the boundaries they have been given, so I really hope it was a good promise....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours 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.

 

 

 

 

If HAL would give me a refund they could go ahead and lose me, but they are insistent on keeping 100% of our money for a cruise FOUR months away.  I don't even feel valued as a client at this point; I am supposed to trust they will keep my son safe in an unstructured environment? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Pepicou said:

They are passionate about the Club Hal program, and doing all they can for the kids in the boundaries they have been given, so I really hope it was a good promise....

 

Help them update their resumes...

Share this post


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

This was my response to their offer of "Future Cruise Credit."  (They just don't seem to get the gravity of the situation.)

 

I recently sailed on the Oosterdam out of San Diego on November 23. Yesterday I received Holland America's offer for remuneration for the fiasco involving Club HAL being closed without prior notification.  The offer is woefully inadequate.

 

The biggest problem with the offer is that it in no way recognizes the gravity of the situation.  The letter states:

 

 "We are very sorry that your clients were disappointed with the Club HAL program offered on this cruise. We attempt to provide a wide variety of activities that will appeal to the majority of our junior cruisers, with positive, professional supervision. Club HAL welcomes children age 1 to age 6; however, this program is not open to children in diapers or pull-ups. Again, we sincerely regret that your clients were not pleased with Club HAL on this sailing, and we will keep their comments in mind as we endeavor to improve the shipboard experience for all of our valued guests."

 

The problem was not a "disappointment" with the Club HAL program.  It was the cancellation of the program and the fact that no adequate program was substituted for children from ages 7-17.  Your own website still describes Club HAL:

 

 "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."


The fact that the Club HAL program was canceled without any prior notification to passengers is false advertising. I paid for a product. That product wasn't offered.  I am requesting a refund for that deception. (Incidentally, once we found out about the closure of Club HAL subsequent to boarding the Oosterdam but prior to departure, I requested the option of canceling our cruise and deboarding if we could be given a refund.  Priscilla Jimenez, the Guest Relations Assistant Manager aboard the ship said that a refund would not be possible at that time since it was beyond the final payment date.)


The offered remuneration is a credit towards future cruises on Holland America.  Without Club HAL, my family will never again sail on Holland America. (We currently have a 24-day cruise reserved out of Venice on June 15. Without this issue being fixed, we will need to cancel that cruise!)


Now let's talk about the problems with the current "High Score!" setup. The biggest problem is safety and security of your cruise passengers. As I stated in my letter posted on CruiseCritic (and soon to be posted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) there is no sign-in/sign-out procedure. Kids from 7-17 are free to enter and leave on their own volition. Most 7 year old children are not capable of this type of self-care.  In fact, if I were to leave my 7 year old alone at my home alone for an extended period of time, I could be arrested for child endangerment. On an unfamiliar ship thousands of miles from home with thousands of strangers, the dangers much more extreme. Liability-wise, Holland America is setting itself up for a tremendous lawsuit should any child be injured, molested or otherwise harmed after leaving the "care" of the HAL staff in "High Score!" 


Additionally, Holland America is assuming that all children ages 7-17 share the same interests. That is blatantly not the case. Elementary, middle and high school students are separated in most schools because of this divergence of interests. Boy Scouts separates the elementary school kids from the middle and high schoolers.  Club HAL had three different programs for three different age groups because it recognized this variation. The corporate pencil-pushers who invented the "High Score!" program have obviously never dealt extensively with children of different ages.


And what about the rest of the cruisers aboard the Oosterdam? There were over 300 children aboard the ship the week of November 23-30.  Does your average Holland America passenger without children want hundreds of children running around the ship unsupervised?  How about the hundreds of extra children in the main dining room every evening?  Our normal procedure on cruises is to take our son to eat in the Lido cafe and then take him to Club HAL at 7pm so that my wife and I can enjoy a nice dinner and possibly a show. That was not a possibility on this cruise, so we were faced with the option of taking our son with us to the main dining room or bypassing the more formal dining for the cafe. (The results of this situation during the first formal night were very apparent: hundreds of people had to wait an hour or longer for a table because so many families were dining with their children during the early seating of dinner. And the dining room was a chaotic mess with bored and impatient children crying and running around their tables.)


Or maybe Holland America has made a corporate decision to de-emphasize family cruising in a desire to become more like Virgin or Viking or other cruise lines that don't permit children on board. If this is the path Holland America is taking, that is fine, but you must notify families in advance and offer them refunds.


In the end, Holland America's decision to do away with Club HAL was an unmitigated disaster. Unfortunately, my family was the victim of this rash and poorly implemented restructuring. My family suffered in multiple ways: 1) My son did not get to enjoy the programmed activities with other children in Club HAL but rather had to spend the entire cruise with his parents; 2) My wife and I had no alone time; 3) We were not able to enjoy our dining experiences or evening shows; 4) Since we could not leave our son onboard while in port, we had to cancel an "Intro to SCUBA diving" excursion planned in Mazatlan through an independent travel company. (Luckily we managed to receive a full refund from that company, but, unfortunately, we were not able to enjoy in the experience.)


As I said in the beginning, I am not interested in future cruise credit.  I am requesting a refund for a product that was sold to me but not delivered. I also am requesting that Holland America reevaluate the planned elimination of Club HAL fleet-wide. Before my family continues with its planned cruise next summer, we need reassurance that Club HAL will still exist for that cruise.

 

Lastly, my concerns go beyond compensation for our family's poor experience on the cruise last week.  To a person, everyone I spoke with from Holland America regarding this issue (from the former Club HAL staff monitoring the door at High Score!, to the on-ship Guest Relations Manager, to the over the phone Guest Relations support provider I spoke with yesterday) have asked me to make sure that my complaints are heard from the highest levels of Holland America. They all said "Nobody will listen to our complaints and concerns, but they will listen to you."  So the reason I am fighting so vociferously about this issue is so that the management of Holland America realize what a colossal cluster-f@&! this transition has been and how poorly thought out the plan for implementation was. You are losing good customers, but you are also losing good employees. Someone from upper management needs to take responsibility for this failure and have the guts to admit that it wasn't a well thought out change. (Think "New Coke" level of failure!)

Too many words to keep my attention.  Much luck to you

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, *Miss G* said:

 

That is not nice.

It's true.  They are reducing the staff, the offerings, even the amount of time they are open.  We have found kids program staffers generally have degrees in education; don't pay them a verbal tip, help them out because HAL is about to get rid some of them 

Share this post


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

It's true.  They are reducing the staff, the offerings, even the amount of time they are open.  We have found kids program staffers generally have degrees in education; don't pay them a verbal tip, help them out because HAL is about to get rid some of them 

 

Hiya LMaxwell

On another post you asked if Kids Club / High Score was ongoing on the Oosterdam. Yes it is.

Here are the hours they are open:

High Score:

Embarkation: “Open House” 12:00pm – 4:00pm and 6:00pm – 10:00pm  (all ages/families welcomed during the day.  As of 6:00pm we only permit kids, tweens, teens and their parents/guardians)

All other days: Daily 10:00am – 6:00pm (ages 7-17 only) and 6:00pm – 10:00pm (all ages/families)

(in the other post you called it a 'pay arcade' - just to be clear, whilst there are pinball machines, arcade games etc, they are all free to play)

 

Kids’ Club:

Embarkation: “Open House and Registration” 1:00pm – 3:00pm

All other days: Daily 9:00am – 12:00pm, (7:00pm – 10:00pm on gala evenings only).  During the upcoming, Christmas and New Year’s sailings, evening hours will be offered throughout the cruise.

(We have been completing upgrades to the Loft area in the Youth Center and that is why Kids Club was temporarily relocated to another room. As of next cruise the Kids Club will be held in the Loft, next to High Score)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My kids--now 16 and 20--are Four Star Mariners after traveling the world on HAL with Grandma since they were little. They've visited more than 30 countries. They still keep in touch with kids they met in Club HAL/Loft from South Africa, the UK, the Netherlands, and Spain.

 

I would never have let them participate in this High Score Thunderdome, nor would they have wanted to.

 

And, as a former director of PR for a national company, I'm just wondering--what the heck?!? I would've quit rather than attempt damage control on this mess. I'm contacting HAL, but I have a feeling that there is no one home in Seattle.

 

 

Share this post


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

I have a feeling that there is no one home in Seattle.

 

Or at least unsupervised.  😜

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, retafcruiser said:

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

I agree, he needs to go.......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How disappointing - we have booked our first HAL cruise for next year  - it's 30 days and we were looking forward to the kids club. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Pepicou said:

Also, I really hope that wasn't one of those threatening types of promises, because our Youth Staff are genuinely some of the nicest, sincerest and committed crew members we have. They are passionate about the Club Hal program, and doing all they can for the kids in the boundaries they have been given, so I really hope it was a good promise....

It was a promise to voice my concerns, ones that they shared with me but had gone unheeded by upper management. 
 

NONE of my complaints have anything to do with the youth staff. They are great. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I messaged Holland America on their FB page, asking about High Score. This is the reply that I received. I also asked if High Score is a replacement for Club HAL or if it’s an additional concept, but they conveniently ignored that part of my inquiry, so I sent a second message with that specific question. Let’s see if/when they reply.

 

 

 

 

A21E721F-5FD9-4A03-95A9-6A28F73354FA.jpeg

Edited by Tapi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stupidest idea ever. What parent wants to send their kid to an unsupervised arcade for the afternoon??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Pepicou said:

 

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

 


Well @Pepicou, if you are on the bridge of the Oosterdam, which I suspect you are from your statement about two 17 day Hawaii cruises in a row - let me thank you for an amazing cruise! And your Captain is the hero of every passenger on the ship! I was on the ship when he had to negotiate with the Harbor Master in Lahaina to let the tenders start bringing us ashore - as scheduled.

 

Calm seas to you & your colleagues!

 

Ann

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last week we got off the Crystal Symphony with our daughter.  Yes, Crystal actually has a childrens program and it is very nicely run.  We were talking to the director who runs the program and she stated that it is one of the most important investments they make.  While the number of children on board are a small percentage of the guests, the program allows for younger families or multi-generational families to sail on Crystal.  This introduces a new customer base to Crystal, many of whom become part of the next generation customer base.  Basically, she indicated that the small investment they make in their kids club creates tremendous returns and helps expand their customer base.  

 

In talking, I mentioned we were doing a West Coast cruise on the Eurodam in April.  I told her that when it came to bigger cruise lines, our daughter liked HAL's kid club the best.  She indicated that she had worked on HAL ships and thought they had one of the better ones in the industry.  When she worked on HAL, they didn't under staff, treated the staff well and the ratio of children to counselors were reasonable and allowed for more individual attention.  She indicated that when she was on board, the HAL kids club always did very well on the survey.   It was a strong contributing factor for some customers when they booked another HAL cruise.  

 

Based on the feedback and outrage from this topic, HAL is damaging a once positive and critical attribute with parts of its core customer base. If High Score had been rolled out in addition to the HALs kids club, it would have been a win for everyone. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really have to wonder where this idea came from? Certainly not any HAL management that actually have children themselves. And what focus group of parents would actually support this?

 

My kid is 8 and has done 15 cruises with a variety of lines, over 140 sea days. We were transitioning to HAL because we all love the product. But if this is happening, those plans are done. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Pepicou said:

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.

Pepicou:

 

I truly appreciate getting an “insiders” perspective. It’s much better than the rampant speculation that we see so often on these boards.

 

Going back to the topic at hand, I truly believe that High Score! is something that the decision makers at HAL headquarters, where this concept was most likely conceived, considered to be a brilliant idea. But this only goes to show that sometimes the people making decisions don’t think things through, and are out of touch with reality and with what their audience truly wants and needs. And sometimes decisions that may seem brilliant have unexpectedly negative (and in this case alarmingly unsafe) consequences. It’s something that happens at many companies, in politics, and pretty much everywhere, not only at HAL. I wonder how many of these decision makers actually have young kids, and thought through what the implications of eliminating Club HAL and replacing it with an unsupervised arcade where adults and teenagers can freely mingle with small children would be. 
 

I’m just hopeful that these decision makers at HAL have enough wisdom to recognize when what seems like a brilliant idea is actually a poor idea, and will be willing to place the good of their cruise line and it’s passengers over their egos.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/5/2019 at 10:47 AM, princeton123211 said:

There's a lot of fleet updates not on Veendam though. My guess is that she's not worth major updating due to her age and that HAL plans on selling her along in the short term. 

Hi

 

I don't mean to hijack this thread but this is not the first post I have seen assuming an imminent departure of Veendam from the HAL fleet.  I wonder where the announcement of this might be found.  I saw recently that HAL is positioning the ship next year our of Tampa, so it must be at least 18 months from now.

 

Thanks

Edited by Hobbsey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No surprise.  For years the cruise lines tried desperately (and very successfully) to suppress reports of crime on their ships.  Hard to say whether crime has increased over the years or whether the reporting of crime has increased because of better Government oversight. The internet has also helped to change this by increasing public awareness and public pressure for change.

 

If it was left to the cruise industry there would never be any reports or warning about crime on cruise ships.  Not in their interest.

Edited by iancal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, awhcruiser said:

Too many words to keep my attention.  Much luck to you

Your  reference to Viking and cruise lines that will not permit  children brings to my mind  the once high level  cruise line, Renaissance  t  hat did not permit children.  the once 'deluxe' line went bankrupt. 

 

 

I am not suggesting this very poor choice on HAL's part = a bankruptcy but it will not increase the number of young  families eager to sail  HAL.    (they  are  the future  of  HAL)

 

 

 

 

Edited by sail7seas

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, JeremyTexas said:

Oosterdam is not listed as offering Club HAL.  We sail on the Zuiderdam (which is currently in dry dock) with kids in April and this makes me very nervous.

 

https://www.hollandamerica.com/en_US/onboard-activities/cruise-activities/club-hal.html

 

image.png.493b264c852c0d0d1bffc8e530021109.png

This is a change from what their website said last week.

Tween Program screenshot #2.png

Tween Program screenshot.png

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
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter Now for a Chance to Win a 7-day Cruise for Two
      • Q&A with InsureMyTrip
      • 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...