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

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It seems to me in recent times that HAL is throwing out everything that made it stand out from the competition, and substituting poor imitations of various programs etc carried by the competition.  It is certainly putting me off (4*, a few days short of 5*) and I am looking to try Cunard instead.  Although I don't have kids, it always seemed that Club HAL really was remarkable, and I have sailed with friends whose children thoroughly enjoyed it and the security was very reassuring to the parents.

 

As to looking for solutions, as suggested earlier, I think loyal HAL passengers from all Mariner levels to President's Club have made many suggestions and conveyed opinions on all the changes to the powers-that-be, to no avail.  Sadly, beyond that, solutions are out of passengers' control.

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Well, strike 2. HAL will NOT answer the question. First time, they completely ignored it and now they just referred me to someone else to answer what should be a yes/no question. I have the feeling that they are playing hot potato with this topic and nobody wants to address it. 
 

 

52701C75-EF2D-4C39-8023-6A577BE73FFC.jpeg

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1 hour ago, LMaxwell said:

Holland America have emailed me and will allow me a full refund for cancellation and I will take them up on their offer.  

 

And so ends the test run for our big 2021 or 2022 Alaska Adventure.  

So glad to hear this and hoping you find a cruise that will work for you.

 

On the other hand, I hope that doesn’t mean HAL is digging in its heels on killing off Club HAL.

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1 hour ago, LMaxwell said:

Holland America have emailed me and will allow me a full refund for cancellation and I will take them up on their offer.  

 

And so ends the test run for our big 2021 or 2022 Alaska Adventure.  


Though I am happy to hear you will receive a refund, I am sorry you had to endure the stress, aggravation and disappointment.

 

I want to personally thank you for posting all the contact info earlier in this thread. I know I will not want to sail on any ship that has the new “self-check out” policy, and have sent a message to each person/organization you listed telling them so.

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That response is VERY concerning, Tapi.

 

I filled my wife in about this thread and these discussions.  She's about ready to cancel our Veendam cruise next summer just because we can't be sure Club HAL will still be around--it's a big deal to our elementary school-aged daughter, and the reason we already switched away from the Maasdam.

 

We're both 4* Mariners; our high-school aged daughter is 3*.  The Veendam cruise alone is $60k.  It seems like a bad business decision to alienate us as future customers, but if their decision is that they don't really want families on board, then we'll vacation elsewhere.

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Although it seems even HAL itself doesn't know what they're doing.  This website (https://www.hollandamerica.com/en_US/onboard-activities/cruise-activities/club-hal.html) has conflicting information.  Near the top it says

Club HAL is offered on board all ships except for ms Maasdam.

 
then just below it says
 
Club HAL® Youth Program is offered on the following ships
Notice that it lists the Maasdam but not the Oosterdam...

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I sent a detailed email to our PCC yesterday. She emailed back that she is sending it up the food chain and will let me know what she finds out. I appreciate her time and energy. She is a gem.

 

The dissonance between what is said online, in emails, by phone reps, and what actually materializes on the ships has been an issue for years. The right hand and left hand are total strangers. HAL however doesn't seemed bothered by these inconsistencies as the simple fixes like regularly proofing and correcting their website and automatic emails for up to date info have never materialized.  It can be infuriating though if you run up against one of these inconsistencies and have to trot down to the front desk a few times to get it fixed while on vacation.

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So I'm friends with HAL on FB and a post this morning from their "official blog" says the following:

===========================================================================

Club HAL and High Score! Update

Submitted by: Julie

 

The Kid’s Club/Club HAL is not going away on Holland America Line.

On Oosterdam only, we recently launched a new venue called High Score!, featuring a variety of popular arcade and table games. Regular hours during the day are for kids ages 7+ and family time is offered in the evening, with separate time slots. Times for each are published in the daily program and monitored by our staff.

Due to the high demand for family use of High Score! on Oosterdam’s recent Thanksgiving cruise, family hours were extended and supervised check-in was not available for ages 7 -12. We are pleased that many families were able to enjoy time together in this new venue over the holiday, but do understand that several guests were disappointed. We apologies for any disappointment this may have caused.

The Kid’s Club offers “check-in” supervised programming for each age group 3-6 and 7-12 for several hours a day, and again each evening from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.

As always, we value guest feedback, particularly with new offerings. Many guests are enjoying High Score! on Oosterdam and the opportunity to spend dedicated family time in the venue. We will continue to monitor guest comments.

Nieuw Amsterdam is the only other ship scheduled to receive High Score in 2020, but will also still retain the Kid’s Club program.

======================================================

Here's the link, but I wasn't sure it would work or not.

https://www.hollandamerica.com/blog/topics/arts-entertainment/club-hal-and-high-score-update/?fbclid=IwAR3fEov1NR9PJOC4otfd0oWHiZwlsDABF4iDSpg8HRQl7G8_CUZw1OZ7GrY

Happy to hear maybe someone's listening. We don't have kids or know kids in the cruising arena, but if it were our grand nieces or nephews, we definitely wouldn't want the 7y.o.'s unsupervised like the OP mentioned!

Best wishes!

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Sounds like things will be normal for kids club going forward with the ADDITION of High Score. That’s what I was hoping would be the case. It sounds like it was handled poorly on the Oosterdam thanksgiving cruise but hopefully the situation is corrected now. I just couldn’t imagine what was going on in the minds of HAL management if they really thought an unsupervised kids venue was a good idea. Apparently it’s fixed now. 

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Glad to hear this, although it really sounds like some major backpedaling. It’s a good decision hopefully replacing a very bad one. 
 

Saying supervised check in was not available over thanksgiving due to high demand leaves one to wonder if there would be high demand in the future it might not be planned for. Before sailing HAL knows how many eligible kids are on board. I’m guessing you don’t have to sign up in advance, but that could be an option. (Someone with kids confirm please.) So there is really no excuse to not staff appropriately. 
 

And I’m also guessing they really mean “supervised check in and check out.”

 
But at least it sounds like they have come to their senses. Letting minors walk away unsupervised or being with older kids/youth without proper adult supervision is a problem waiting to happen. It leaves a kiddo free to walk away and climb on a railing or fall victim to a child perpetrator. 

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44 minutes ago, oakridger said:

Sounds like things will be normal for kids club going forward with the ADDITION of High Score. That’s what I was hoping would be the case. It sounds like it was handled poorly on the Oosterdam thanksgiving cruise but hopefully the situation is corrected now. I just couldn’t imagine what was going on in the minds of HAL management if they really thought an unsupervised kids venue was a good idea. Apparently it’s fixed now. 


If true this is awesome news. Thank you for the update. 
 

As a side note, the lack of a procedure for checking kids in and out of High Score! had nothing to do with the number of kids on the Thanksgiving Cruise.  It was that way as well, from what I heard, for the 17 day cruise to Hawaii prior to the Thanksgiving Cruise, albeit with far fewer children.

 

As was stated TiogaCruiser, there’s some serious back peddling going on, but I have no problem with that as long as they heard our complaints and they are, ultimately, making the right decision. 

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Good news if Club HAL is here to stay with the addition of High Score.  Sounds like a winner!  As a senior-citizen traveler, without grandchildren yet, I disliked the idea of wee ones checking out of a supervised area to wander the ship alone.  We were on a Celebrity cruise once (years ago) that occurred during a major winter break for New York/New Jersey school systems in February.  My husband and I joked that there probably wasn't a child left in those two states because they were all on the ship.  Packs of children ran unchecked through the ship and even took over the adults-only solarium space.  The crew gave up trying to get a handle on the situation because passengers whose children were causing the most havoc would cuss at the crew for being bothered about their unruly offspring.  We heard this directly from multiple crew members.  It was so miserable that my husband wanted to get off the ship before the week was over, and he refused to sail Celebrity again.  I cruised with them again, many years later with two friends, and found the situation much improved.  No noisy running kids, but my friends and I missed HAL so much, we decided not to venture onto a Celebrity ship again.

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I haven’t read much of this thread but it comes to my mind that perhaps HAL should, instead of trying to be an all purpose cruise line, should do as P&O has done - designate certain ships as adult only.  That seems to be a popular trend.  Adult only cruises generally don’t require a lot of amusement infrastructure that HAL’s smaller ships don’t have.  The newer bigger ships could be general audience and include features and programs for all members of the family including Club HAL.  I take a lot of the longer itineraries which tend to be adult only and the Club HAL space seems wasted.   
 

This policy would have prevented the OP’s disappointment

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It's really unfortunate that the families sailing on the Oosterdam over Thanksgiving had to be the "test market" for this.  I wonder how many of those people will never set foot on a HAL ship again? 😞

 

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Sounds like the “emergency meeting” that was reported by another poster resulted in some heavy duty backpedaling! 😂

 

Glad to read the latest! 

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HAL has a twitter post about this topic.....posted today...12/7.

 

go read it but the bottom line is....."The Kid's Club/Club HAL is not going away on Holland America Line"

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Mary229 said:

I haven’t read much of this thread but it comes to my mind that perhaps HAL should, instead of trying to be an all purpose cruise line, should do as P&O has done - designate certain ships as adult only.  That seems to be a popular trend.  Adult only cruises generally don’t require a lot of amusement infrastructure that HAL’s smaller ships don’t have.  The newer bigger ships could be general audience and include features and programs for all members of the family including Club HAL.  I take a lot of the longer itineraries which tend to be adult only and the Club HAL space seems wasted.   
 

This policy would have prevented the OP’s disappointment

You may be on to something here!

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3 hours ago, Mary229 said:

I haven’t read much of this thread but it comes to my mind that perhaps HAL should, instead of trying to be an all purpose cruise line, should do as P&O has done - designate certain ships as adult only.  That seems to be a popular trend.  Adult only cruises generally don’t require a lot of amusement infrastructure that HAL’s smaller ships don’t have.  The newer bigger ships could be general audience and include features and programs for all members of the family including Club HAL.  I take a lot of the longer itineraries which tend to be adult only and the Club HAL space seems wasted.   
 

This policy would have prevented the OP’s disappointment

 

There are really two issues here.

 

One is whether HAL should consider going adult-only on some (or all) ships. That's an interesting topic for discussion and I can see pros and cons.

 

However, what was outrageous about the OP's cruise was that a significant change was made WITHOUT PRIOR NOTIFICATION. People booked that cruise with an expectation of having Club HAL available, and were not notified that there was a significant change.

 

The second issue is what, I think, had most folks outraged and of course is what caused the OP's disappointment.

 

As I commented earlier, if HAL wants to make a MAJOR change such as this, it should be done after due thought, review, testing, whatever ....  and it should not be rolled out without a long period of prior notice (such as what was done when smoking was curtailed) OR giving folks who already booked the chance to cancel without penalty.

Edited by cruisemom42

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5 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

There are really two issues here.

 

One is whether HAL should consider going adult-only on some (or all) ships. That's an interesting topic for discussion and I can see pros and cons.

 

However, what was outrageous about the OP's cruise was that a significant change was made WITHOUT PRIOR NOTIFICATION. People booked that cruise with an expectation of having Club HAL available, and were not notified that there was a significant change.

 

The second issue is what, I think, had most folks outraged and of course is what caused the OP's disappointment.

 

As I commented earlier, if HAL wants to make a MAJOR change such as this, it should be done after due thought, review, testing, whatever ....  and it should not be rolled out without a long period of prior notice (such as what was done when smoking was curtailed) OR giving folks who already booked the chance to cancel without penalty.

 

 I totally agree, 

 

But, remember when they brought out the new wine policy (not the same one as we know now).?  There was NO. Notice.  Literally none.  Everyone who was affected was past final payment. 

 

It took a lot of posts here and emails to them to get it changed,

 

I encourage everyone to voice their concerns now.

 

 

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41 minutes ago, kazu said:

 

 I totally agree, 

 

But, remember when they brought out the new wine policy (not the same one as we know now).?  There was NO. Notice.  Literally none.  Everyone who was affected was past final payment. 

 

It took a lot of posts here and emails to them to get it changed,

 

I encourage everyone to voice their concerns now.

 

 

 

Good point -- forethought does not seem to be a strong point for (current) HAL management.

 

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It goes to show if enough people write enough letters to head office & make enough noise then things do change. Talk to the organ grinder not the monkey. Glad to see that HAL did listen.

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17 hours ago, CruiseMGM said:

 

Nieuw Amsterdam is the only other ship scheduled to receive High Score in 2020, but will also still retain the Kid’s Club program.

 

Marketing double speak. 

 

I offered HAL the following:  Put in writing that the kids club will exist in its CURRENT iteration onboard Nieuw Amsterdam for our March cruise or provide $1000 OBC to be used on excursions.  They would only say the kids club would be there for ages 3-6, did not take me up on the OBC, and made a "1 time exception" and gave me a full refund. 

 

However I used two American Express offers on our booking and those offers are now gone, can't use on Carnival or Princess.  This has fallen on deaf ears at HAL.  

Edited by LMaxwell

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1 hour ago, LMaxwell said:

Marketing double speak. 

 

I offered HAL the following:  Put in writing that the kids club will exist in its CURRENT iteration onboard Nieuw Amsterdam for our March cruise or provide $1000 OBC to be used on excursions.  They would only say the kids club would be there for ages 3-6, did not take me up on the OBC, and made a "1 time exception" and gave me a full refund. 

 

 

Bolding mine.

 

So is what you are saying is HAL will only confirm ages 3-6 will have Club Hal, (On N A) and nothing about older ages.

 

From quote in post 133 quoting HAL PIO Julie:

The Kid’s Club offers “check-in” supervised programming for each age group 3-6 and 7-12 for several hours a day, and again each evening from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m”


So HAL, which is it? What will the general hours be and what age groups are accommodated in Club HAL? Is there something for minors 13 and up?

 

It would be nice to get a clarification post here from your PIO.  I believe HAL’s credential is something like HAL_PR (although with the new website I can’t find the member search function. (And that account likely didn’t have enough posts to show up in the old one.))

 

For others who have used Club HAL:

What age groups were there? In the Blog only 2 age groups are mentioned. I thought the old Club HAL included teens.

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1 hour ago, LMaxwell said:

Marketing double speak. 

 

I offered HAL the following:  Put in writing that the kids club will exist in its CURRENT iteration onboard Nieuw Amsterdam for our March cruise or provide $1000 OBC to be used on excursions.  They would only say the kids club would be there for ages 3-6, did not take me up on the OBC, and made a "1 time exception" and gave me a full refund. 

 

However I used two American Express offers on our booking and those offers are now gone, can't use on Carnival or Princess.  This has fallen on deaf ears at HAL.  

 

Sometimes, when we are patient, issues resolve themselves.  If you had given them some time to review and amend the situation there would be no further issue.  You didn’t offer HAL anything.  I imagine whoever you spoke with had no inside knowledge of what was coming or the ability to make that kind of promise.  You chose to lose the Amex offers.  It wasn’t forced upon you.  You acted in the heat of the moment.  That is never a wise move.

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2 hours ago, TiogaCruiser said:

Bolding mine.

 

So is what you are saying is HAL will only confirm ages 3-6 will have Club Hal, (On N A) and nothing about older ages.

 

From quote in post 133 quoting HAL PIO Julie:

The Kid’s Club offers “check-in” supervised programming for each age group 3-6 and 7-12 for several hours a day, and again each evening from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m”


So HAL, which is it? What will the general hours be and what age groups are accommodated in Club HAL? Is there something for minors 13 and up?

 

It would be nice to get a clarification post here from your PIO.  I believe HAL’s credential is something like HAL_PR (although with the new website I can’t find the member search function. (And that account likely didn’t have enough posts to show up in the old one.))

 

For others who have used Club HAL:

What age groups were there? In the Blog only 2 age groups are mentioned. I thought the old Club HAL included teens.

The Loft was the teen area and it was always no check in since it was 13+. And the Loft had a lot of self determined programming.. the teens themselves would kinda come up with a schedule. So maybe that is why it was not mentioned. The little kids were always parent check in and out and the tweens were offered the parent waver for self check in and out.

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