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Kids & holland america


brenderlou

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I currently have a deposit on a Royal Caribbean cruise (Independence) for Jan 9th, 8 nights, inside cabin. for myself, hubby and 4 yr old (she'll be 5 at time of cruise). I was searching other lines to see what I could find in terms of a deal and we can do a 7 night, veranda for ALOT cheaper then our RC cruise.

Never been on Holland America so I'm wondering about age demographic and the kid friendliness of this line. I'm also wondering about the kids program and what other's experience has been. The 2 ships we are looking at is the Eurodam and Westerdam.

 

Thanks

 

(also posted on the Family board :))

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Yes, there have been a ton of previous discussions on this very topic so I won't repost the same info. Try searching "Club HAL Adventure Ocean" in the HAL, RCI and Family Cruising forums and you should get lots of hits.

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I currently have a deposit on a Royal Caribbean cruise (Independence) for Jan 9th, 8 nights, inside cabin. for myself, hubby and 4 yr old (she'll be 5 at time of cruise). I was searching other lines to see what I could find in terms of a deal and we can do a 7 night, veranda for ALOT cheaper then our RC cruise.

Never been on Holland America so I'm wondering about age demographic and the kid friendliness of this line. I'm also wondering about the kids program and what other's experience has been. The 2 ships we are looking at is the Eurodam and Westerdam.

 

Thanks

 

(also posted on the Family board :))

 

I won't say anything regarding the kids program, as I have no personal experience with it, however I will say that there were quite a few families with young children on our January Noordam cruise. And that was a 10-day cruise, which is supposed to skew older re: demographic...

All the crew seemed to go out of their way to pay attention to any young children. One waiter in the Lido spent a solid 10 minutes making napkin anymals for a delighted 2-year old little girl. With the frankly fabulous 3rd/4th person rates HAL has these days, I would say go for it.

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We have done 2 HAL cruises with our son who is 5. He loves the programs Club HAL offer. All of the staff were great with our son. We have just booked our 3rd HAL cruise for Christmas.

 

Go for it and have a great time.

 

Wendy:)

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Brenderlou,

I know it would take less space if I knew how to link to another message, but here is my mini review of our trip on the Westerdam March 8 with my two sons-hope it helps!

"I've read through Dave"s (RetiredMustang) review during the cruise now on the main HAL board-can't disagree with anything he said, but we had an entirely different, though equally great, time on the same cruise! With 2 children along, and my mother who has some mobility issues, our experience covered the Club HAL, Lido restaurant, pool areas and beaches. We had reserved a wheelchair transport at embarkation, asked for it right after the passport clearance, and they got it in motion right away. Brought us directly to the Lido restaurant and found a table by the window (around 12 noon) and we started to sample all the stations had to offer. When the call for the cabins being open went our we waited a little while and had no problem getting an elevator or into the room. We had a VD on Deck 4 (4163), tight for the 4 of us, but great closet space and storage areas, we used the shelf under the bathroom sink for everyone's shoes! And they fit there!

We never made it to the Meet and Greet, too many details for 4 of us to accomplish it-I'm sure we ran into some of the CC members, we were at the coffee Dave mentioned where the hotel manager and food service director spoke, it was interesting to hear about the behind the scenes operation of the ship.

We ate all but one meal in the Lido, and had no complaints about the service or ability to carry the plates withour a tray. We usually made a separate trip for drinks, each night had a variety of main courses and my children's favorite-pasta to order made in front of them. Loved the ice cream, was not impressed with the desserts otherwise-note if you see one you want in the case, take it, because they may change and not be there later in the meal. Of course, they may put out something you like better so it's all up to luck.

My boys loved the Club Hal and wanted to be there the moment it opened. I think for them the fact that it was not constant motion and activity, and had some quiet projects, was good, they would have been too wound up with something more intense. They made crepes in the Culinary Arts Center-saw the illusionist perform-took over the Sports Deck-had mystery night and movie night, had a great time.

We used the Lido pool a lot, that's where the boys wanted to be when not in the Club. Hard to get lounge chairs, they were marked early in the day, but easy to get the tables with chairs surrounding them. The Aft pool was marked for adults so we didn't venture there after the first day when I saw the sign, there were more lounge chairs there, and the Aft Pool was heated, the Lido wasn't.

Complaints-they should post the schedule around the ship, if we didn't carry it we forgot what was happening when-casino was smoky and small, seemed cramped to me-all small things

Compliments-service was so great, every crew member knew my sons by name, everyone was gracious to give my mother, using a walker, space and time to get around, room service was on time and hot, towel animals 5 nights out of 7!

Would be happy to answer specific questions on items, so much to write about and remember!

Tina:)

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I have some first hand experience with club HAL. I took my then six year old daughter on the Rotterdam for 12 days in the Baltic. She loved Club HAL. My review of that cruise can be found here.

 

As a testimony to Club HAL, we sailed on the Disney Wonder last month for three days afloat with the mouse. I asked my daughter which she liked better, Disney or Club HAL. She said Club HAL.

 

Rick

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Never been on Holland America so I'm wondering about age demographic and the kid friendliness of this line. I'm also wondering about the kids program and what other's experience has been. The 2 ships we are looking at is the Eurodam and Westerdam.

I don't have kids, so take what I say from that viewpoint ... but I seem to think that younger kids do very well on HAL. It's the older ones that sometimes have a problem, given that a HAL ship doesn't have anywhere near the amenities for older kids that one of the RCI ships would have.

 

But the younger kids seem to thrive on HAL. Since there won't be huge crowds in the children's program (based on the time of year you are planning to sail), the kids get a lot of personal attention from the counselors ... where I would imagine on Royal Caribbean there is gonna be a lot of kids no matter what time of the year you sail. As an example, I took a ship's tour of the Freedom of the Seas this past January ... this was at the end of the month ... a time when NO school should have been on a spring break or any other kind of break. The sailing the ship was embarking for was a seven-day one ... and there were kids literally all over the place ... hundreds of them ... many from one group that all were wearing these blue tee-shirts.

 

Based on what I saw there, I would imagine the children's program that week was packed. Very young kids can often get lost in the shuffle with those sort of crowds and they get very little in the way of personal attention.

 

On HAL, however, you will have some kids onboard ... especially on a Vista class ship or the Eurodam, but the ship shouldn't be overrun with kids. Your five-year-old should have a wonderful time ... and maybe even make a few new friends in the process.

 

Blue skies ...

 

--rita

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Hello,

I just got back 2 days ago off of a 10 day Southern Caribbean cruise on the Noordam. I have a 5 and 7 year old. My daughter literally broke down and cried for 30 minutes because she didn't want to leave her new friends and club HAL. I have taken our kids on Princess, RCL, Carnival, and HAL. Princess my child was to small, but the other kids seem to be having a nice time. Carnival neither of my kids enjoyed their kids club. RCL both of my kids came down with colds and didn't really want to go. We just got off HAL and both of my kids loved it. I was really surprised. At this point I saw the kids club as an added bonus. If the kids enjoyed it, great, if not that was fine too. I had in the past booked ships based on the kids programs and that really didn't so well for us. So, this time I booked based on personal experience. HAL has the best food, best staterooms, and best beds. Best room service too. On this last cruise I was amazed at how much my kids loved the kids club. There were just enough kids that kept my very social 7 year old little girl happy. I actually knew the kids names when I saw them in the hall and at the pool. My 5 year old son has high functioning Autism and he had a great time. They didn't press him to do what they were doing. They just let him to his own thing and join in when he wanted to. I never even needed to explain why he acts a little differently than the other kids. The kids camp counselors just rolled with the punches. I would give HAL an enthusiastic 2 thumbs up for their kids club.Every night the kids brought home crafts that they made and would tell me stories about how much fun they had. I have to say I was very surprised, because there are very few stories about club HAL experiences. I would pick HAL again for our next cruise with the kids without hesitation. I hope this helps and I hope you have as great of an experience as we had with the kids program on HAL.

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Thanks for this post MamaMicki! We are about to take a Baltic HAL cruise and I have been trying to find out if it will work for my 10 and 12 year old daughter and (autistic) son. My son, though older, is also high functioning and knows when he needs to take a break from group activities.

 

Your post put my concerns to rest.

 

Does anyone know if Club HAL is open when the ship is in port? Or only evenings and at-sea days?

 

Thanks!

 

Facty

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HI,

We just returned last night from our 7 day Eastern Caribbean on the Eurodam. My husband and I were travelling with our two daughters who are 5 and 12. To say that they loved this trip would be an understatement! There weren't as many kids on board as there are on other lines but that didn't seem to bother either of my girls - both made great friends. My 5 year old, Emma, loved Club HAL and particularly the counsellor, Meagan, who was working with her age group. Most of the time there were 10 or 12 kids in their playroom. The last night of the cruise we had to carry Emma away crying because she didn't want to say goodbye to her new friends and Meagan.

 

We ate in the dining room every night and the waiters made a huge fuss over Emma. They made animals out of napkins and origami creatures for her everynight and generally made her feel very special!

 

The girls loved the pool on the ship and loved playing at Half Moon Cay. We weren't able to stop in Turks and Caicos because of weather but had a good time in San Juan and spent the day at Coral World and Coki Beach in Thomas where the girls had a great time.

 

I didn't find the age demographic to be particularly old (certainly no older than the Princess cruise that we did in Alaska). While families with young children are certainly in the minority we certainly never felt uncomfortable or out of place. We found that the older passengers that we crossed paths with were only too happy to chat up our daughters. This is definitely not a "party" ship but that wasn't what we were looking for - we wanted to have a nice family vacation and got exactly that.

 

If you have any specific questions, I would be glad to answer while it is still fresh in my mind.

 

Lisa

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We also just returned from our trip on the Eurodam. I have a 10 year old son and an 8 year old daughter and they both loved Club Hal. Matt- who ran the "Tween" program was great. He kept them busy and having a great time. They went all over the ship doing different scavenger hunts and could not stop talking about the ice cream eating contest. They each made friends and exchanged emails with several kids. We ate in the Lido (there are definitely trays!), the dining room and the Italian restaurant and they loved every meal. Of course my kids are adventurous eaters and never looked at the kids menu. We were on a Princess cruise several years ago and they both kept saying this kids club was so much better. My husband and I actually had time to ourselves because the kids were so entertained. A great time was had by all!

 

Sheryl

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My kids are teens and we just returned from the Eurodam. My kids have been on 12 cruises. We all agreed that HAL had some of the friendliest staff on board but that this will be the last cruise with HAL for us. My kids were totally bored on the Eurodam. The teen program was left to run itself. It was some game called Apples to Apples or yet another movie! We were in shock there were so few kids on the ship since it was Spring Break. That's the only reason we decided to try HAL again. The median age on the ship was about 60. I know that HAL skews older but was quite surprised that on Spring Break I was a Spring Chicken on this ship at 44! I honestly have never seen so many oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, scooters, and canes on one ship. Before anyone blasts me, I have a disabled mom who uses a scooter so I know what's involved with traveling with the disabled. I just didn't expect this many older and disabled cruisers during prime Spring Break when it's the most expensive time to cruise.

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Does anyone know if Club HAL is open when the ship is in port? Or only evenings and at-sea days?

 

Thanks!

 

Facty

 

I would also like to know when the Club is open. When we were on RCL, we would drop my then 6 yo dd at 7:00pm in the kids club, we ate dinner at 8:00 then picked her up when it closed at 10:00 and brought her to the dining room where her ice cream was always waiting for her. It made for a nice enjoyable meal. We were hoping to be able to do this again (she will be 9)

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.......

 

Does anyone know if Club HAL is open when the ship is in port? Or only evenings and at-sea days?

 

Thanks!

 

Facty

 

Yes, Club HAL is open on port days. You need to sign your kids up the evening before.

 

My kids are teens and we just returned from the Eurodam. My kids have been on 12 cruises. We all agreed that HAL had some of the friendliest staff on board but that this will be the last cruise with HAL for us. My kids were totally bored on the Eurodam. The teen program was left to run itself. It was some game called Apples to Apples or yet another movie! We were in shock there were so few kids on the ship since it was Spring Break. That's the only reason we decided to try HAL again. The median age on the ship was about 60. I know that HAL skews older but was quite surprised that on Spring Break I was a Spring Chicken on this ship at 44! I honestly have never seen so many oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, scooters, and canes on one ship. Before anyone blasts me, I have a disabled mom who uses a scooter so I know what's involved with traveling with the disabled. I just didn't expect this many older and disabled cruisers during prime Spring Break when it's the most expensive time to cruise.

 

A lot of schools haven't yet had their Spring Break (our local school district gets off next week, some private schools the week after). This is one holiday that stretches out from mid-March to mid-April, depending on school district or college calendar. I'm not minimizing or discounting your experience, just trying to explain what factors might have been involved. A few more kids in the program might have made for a better cruising vacation for your teens.

 

I would also like to know when the Club is open. When we were on RCL, we would drop my then 6 yo dd at 7:00pm in the kids club, we ate dinner at 8:00 then picked her up when it closed at 10:00 and brought her to the dining room where her ice cream was always waiting for her. It made for a nice enjoyable meal. We were hoping to be able to do this again (she will be 9)

 

Club HAL has a morning, afternoon, and evening session on sea days. The sesssions run roughly (I'm relying solely on memory here) 9am-noon, 2-5, and 7-10 pm. It might vary slightly on different ships. On port days, the Club HAL program might be scheduled a little differently, but it is available.

 

ps There is also "after hours" babysitting, from 10 pm to midnight, but there is a fee involved for this.

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My kids, 3, 7, 10 loved Club Hal last week on Westerdam. They sometimes had pizza, ice cream or fruit. Usually at each session they got something. They loved the counselors and cried when it was time to leave. The tweens did scavenger hunts, and made tee shirts, and the little ones made tees and dressed as pirates and went for ice cream and had a generally good time. We enjoyed the sea day afternoons when the kids were adamant about going to Club Hal, so we acquiesced and let them :-) It was so nice to go to the aft Lido deck and lie in the sun without having to take turns watching the kids, and they enjoyed the break too. The first sea day all the kids took turns "raiding the arcade," at a set time. I have the schedule if you want to see more details..I'm just digging out from being away last week.

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I am glad to read that so many kids are having a good time in Club HAL.

 

Timothy998 I would be very interested to see the schedule from your week. I have an 11 year old and a 15 year old that will be joining me on the Westerdam next week.

Thanks very much.

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Please understand I don't have a teenager yet, thank goodness. Most of the teens hung out near Club HAL but I don't think they had organized activities.

 

That said, here's the schedule for the Tweens. My 10-year old son loved Club HAL. We let him check himself in/out as he wished, within reason, and he chose which things he went to. They were very flexible with the schedule...for example they did a "Family Disco" night on the last formal night, and had popcorn for everyone. That was done "spur of the moment," so they will entertain ideas.

 

Embarkation day:

Open house 2p-5p

Caribbean party, music, fun & get to know you games 7p-10p

10p-midnight...$5/kid/hour for sitting with parental sign-in/out required. This was the standard for every night 10p-midnight.

 

First sea day

9a Friendship bracelets

930 Sportsdeck pathfinders

10a movie til 1130am

 

1p-photo frames craft

130p relay races

2p Lido ice cream

230p raid the arcade (free arcade games)

3p Pictionary

330p Candy bingo

4p end

 

7p Tweens choice...games, crafts, books, playstation

8p Pajama movie night til 10p

 

GrandTurk Day

8a--3p port day activities with parent sign in/out

7p Tweens choice

8p-10p Act in skits, make a walk of fame star, movie trivia, snack

 

San Juan day

port day activities 10a to 4p

7p Tweens choice

8p "Ultimate Race," til 10pm

 

 

St Maarten Day

8a-4p Port day activities

7p Tweens choice

8p--10p Top Secret picture hunt around the ship

 

 

Last sea day

9a Coocking workshop

10a Fusion fun

1045a Basketball

 

1p Ship building

130p Scavenger hunt

215p Dodge ball

3pm Lido Ice cream

330p Sea trials of ships

 

7p Tweens' choice

8p Brave the night...for brave at heart!

 

 

Half Moon Cay

Activities ashore

10a Waterslide area sand castles

11a-11:30a Water games

 

7p Club HAL tweens' choice

8p Farewell pajama party

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