Holland America isn't Disney, but the line is trying harder to cater to families with children. If there are more than about 30 kids aboard, activities are programmed for three age brackets (3-7, 8-12, and 13-17), and there's always at least one counselor on board every sailing, and more when demand warrants. You'll find the most children on cruises during summers and holiday weeks. At these times, there may be as many as 300 to 400 kids aboard the line's newer ships, especially in the Caribbean, though around 100 to 200 is typical overall. When there are fewer than 20 or 30 kids, a two-tiered Club HAL program is offered -- children ages 3 to 12 in one group, teens in another -- on a limited basis, generally about 6 hours on sea days and even fewer hours on port days. On cruises with more children, activities are offered for three or more age groupings and for much longer hours. Typically, each evening kids receive a program detailing the next day's activities, which may include arts and crafts, cooking classes, youth sports tournaments, movies and videos, scavenger hunts, PlayStations, disco for teens, storytelling for younger kids, miniature golf, charades, bingo, Ping-Pong, and pizza, ice-cream, and pajama parties. The playrooms typically operate on a limited schedule on port days, and in the Caribbean, the line offers kids' activities on its private beach, Half Moon Cay.
All the ships have dedicated playrooms with toys, games, arts and crafts, foosball, air hockey, PlayStations, and more. Fleetwide, you'll find a separate teen center called the Loft with video screens and a dance floor; most ships also have a totally cool outdoor space sequestered away on a top deck for teens called the Oasis, a beachlike setting complete with a waterfall and chaise longues. Otherwise, the playrooms are bright and cheerful, though they lack the ball jumps, padded climbing and crawling areas, and fanciful decor that make kids' facilities aboard Disney, Royal Caribbean, Princess, NCL, and Celebrity so compelling.
Families traveling with HAL tend to be multigenerational, and the line emphasizes activities for the whole family rather than kids only. Many onboard activities are geared for family fun or competition, especially in the Caribbean.
Group babysitting in the playroom is offered between 10pm and midnight for $5 per hour per child for kids ages 3 to 12. In-cabin babysitting is also offered, assuming a crewmember is available. The cost is $8 an hour for the first child (minimum age 12 weeks), and $5 per hour for additional kids. Inquire at the guest services desk.
Children must be 12 weeks or older to sail aboard.
Travel page content provided by Zagat © 2013, Google.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.