Family cruising is one of the fastest growing segments of travel. Holland America Line attracts more than 25,000 kids and their families aboard its 15 ships every year. With a range of activities for children, teens and adults, the premium line especially attracts multi-generational groups. The line also has a group program for family groups of eight or more staterooms with bonus incentives and premium offers.
Bonus amenities include a Head of the Family Reward which gets a complimentary upgrade from Ocean-view to Verandah, a nice idea for the person who often pays for everyone else. Add in a $50 Fountain Soda Card per stateroom, Pinnacle Grill Lunch for all family members and a $50 Beverage Card per stateroom and Holland America is looking better all the time.
The Club HAL program has been expanded to include ages three to 12 and all ships also have a teen program for ages 13 to 17. Often important to parents are the age groups of the kids program.
- Ages 3 to 12- The younger ones can enjoy a fanciful area where paintbrushes serve as pillars, enormous pencils adorn the wall, a paint bucket is a play area, and a huge tape dispenser serves as a slide. Creative activities take place at art tables and movies play on a big-screen television. Sample activities include kids Olympics, tie-dying t-shirts, candy bar bingo, arts and crafts, pajama party and storytelling.
- Ages 8 to 12, have an area featuring arcade games, air hockey, foosball, Karaoke, family-safe Internet access (minimal charge similar to Explorations Cafe) and Sony Playstations. Among the fun for older kids is golf putting, deck sports including dodgeball, karaoke, swim party, and video games.
- Teens, ages 13-17, can enjoy The Loft, which connects via a special passageway to a secluded, teens-only sun deck on most ships called The Oasis. The Oasis features a waterfall and wading pool, juice bar and plenty of space to relax and mingle with other teens. In the Loft, teens can try their steps at Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), their voices at Karaoke and their skills at various intelligent board games, thanks to a partnership with Cranium. Other activities include karaoke, volleyball, teen disco, and ping pong tournament.
Club HAL and teen activities operate all day during sea days with breaks for meals. Programs also operate on port days if kids and teens sign up the day before. A complete set of daily programs are handed out at the gangway upon embarkation for kids 3-17 years old.
In addition to Club HAL and teen programming, kids programming and cartoons air on the in-cabin television on the Cartoon Network and the Holland America Line entertainment channels. Age appropriate movies are screened in Club HAL facilities for any kid to attend.
Holland America Line has also launched a kids and teen Culinary Arts Center activity program to bring the joys of cooking to the younger set. The program incorporates dishes from breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in complimentary classes lasting 45 minutes each. All kids, tweens and teens are welcome to attend. The preparations range from simple to teen sophisticate. Kids under eight years old will learn to make Bear Tracks (Alaska theme cookies), Fruit Leather (fruit roll-ups), Ice Cream Sandwiches, Salad People Art, and Denali Peaks (Alaska Theme Scones). Kids eight and over will delight in making Soft Pretzels, Pita Chips and Hummus, and Saltwater Taffy.
Babysitting services are available from 10 p.m. until 12 midnight during Club HAL After Hours for children three years and up. Cost is $5 per hour per child. At other times and for children under the age of three, limited babysitting is available through the Front Office on a volunteer basis. The cost is $10 per hour for the first child and $7 per hour for each other child.
Holland America Line welcomes infants older than six months. By advance request through Holland America Line’s Ship Services Department, guests may arrange commercial baby food, diapers and refrigerators for a nominal fee. A limited number of high chairs, booster seat and cribs are available at no charge. In addition, the line’s Club HAL children’s program schedules Toddler Times for kids under the age of three to play in the children’s facilities. Parents must stay with youngsters at all times.
Club HAL and the teen program have an open door policy. Children may come and go as they please, however each child through seven years old must be signed in and out of the activities. Tweens and teens may come and go as they please, choosing which activities they want to attend. Guests may meet the Club HAL and teen staff during embarkation or on the first night of each cruise at an orientation meeting for parents and children.
Holland America Line’s Club HAL and teen program directors and counselors are permanent, full-time employees. All have college degrees with more than half focused on education studies. Most staff also have experience in education or related fields such as child development, recreation or leisure studies. The number of Club HAL staff aboard is determined by the number of children and teens in each age group sailing on the cruise.
Each ship has an on-board infirmary staffed by a licensed physician and three registered nurses. The infirmaries are equipped with emergency medical facilities and a well-stocked pharmacy. Security staff regularly patrols the ship.
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