While there are plenty of cruise lines that cater specifically to families, Holland America Line has a reputation for serving a more mature crowd. Of course, age is just a number, and people of all ages can get a lot out of cruising. In fact, a cruise can be a great family vacation or reunion destination.
If you’re considering a family or multi-generational cruise, you may be wondering if you’re limited to the family-centered cruise lines. Holland America Line offers high-end amenities and destinations to serve serious travelers, but are their cruises good for families?
- Cruising With Children on Holland America Line
Cruising With Children on Holland America Line
Vacationing with children is always a tricky proposition, but a cruise can make that even more complicated. Being at sea and away from home means there aren’t many opportunities to back out if the kids aren’t handling the trip well. That means you need to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into before you disembark.
Holland America Line offers a wide variety of destinations that each have family-friendly shore excursions. There are also plenty of dining options to suit even the pickiest of eaters, and spacious family suites with enough beds for everyone.
Here’s everything you need to know about cruising with kids on Holland America Line.
Holland America Line Destinations
Cruising enables you and your family to see a variety of destinations and enjoy multiple cultures in one trip. For most families, a cruise is their best opportunity to see a lot of sights on a reasonable budget. Holland America Line has several itineraries that they recommend for families, but their wide range of destinations and itineraries offers something for everyone.
Families with younger children who are new to cruising may want to try a shorter itinerary to get everyone comfortable with it. Slightly older children and families who have taken cruises before can spend more time at sea, seeing even more destinations along the way.
Holland America Line recommends 7- to 10-day cruises for traveling families. Itineraries in this range include the Mexican Riviera, the California Coast, and even an Alaskan whale watching cruise. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, there are 128-day itineraries that will take you and your family on a tour around the world.
Whatever itinerary you select, you’ll have a variety of family-friendly shore excursions to choose from as well. If the kids would rather stay on board, they can play at Club HAL while you enjoy the sights and activities at your destination.
Holland America Line Rooms
While the standard interior rooms are not well suited to families with children, Holland America Line features four suite options. Three of these – the Signature Suite, Neptune Suite, and Pinnacle Suite – feature a sofa or murphy bed for one to two extra guests.
The murphy bed folds down from the wall above the queen- king-size Mariner’s Dream bed. Beside the bed is a wide armchair, and the sofa bed pulls out from that. If you’re traveling with two children, the two single beds mean you can keep them separate at bedtime.
The floor-to-ceiling verandah doors flood the stateroom with natural light during the day. They open onto a spacious verandah where you can kick back and enjoy the view of the ocean. This added space makes all the difference when traveling with kids.
When it’s time for lights out, you can draw the blackout curtains. If you’re lucky, the kids might sleep in a little bit longer, and you can enjoy some extra quiet time in the morning. Larger families can also request adjoining rooms for added space and privacy.
Holland America Line Food
The thought of being at sea with a pair of cranky, hungry children is no one’s idea of a good time. Fortunately, Holland America Line has plenty of dining options to satisfy even the pickiest of young diners.
A poolside burger joint called Dive-In is included in your fare. They serve hot dogs and burgers with a variety of toppings, from the classic cheeseburger, The High-Dive, to The Cannonball, smothered in gouda, bacon, and onions. Gluten-free diners can enjoy the Free Dive, while vegetarians can choose from the Veggie Burger, the Skinny Dip, or the Freestyle.
New York Pizza serves five signature personal pizzas and fresh Italian salads; all included in your fare. This option is perfect for late-night dining. On some ships, the pizzeria also offers made-to-order deli sandwiches.
At Lido Market, you can satisfy everyone’s cravings. This food court near the Lido pool features the breads and pastries at the Breadboard and salads at Wild Harvest. Classic American comfort food, international cuisine, and even ice cream are all included in your fare.
If you’d like to enjoy something a little more upscale, The Dining Room offers breakfast, lunch, and a multicourse dinner. Each meal is designed by the Culinary Council, Holland America Line’s team of prestigious executive chefs.
Kids can get antsy sitting in a formal dining setting. Fortunately, Holland America Line is fully staffed with hospitality experts, and there is usually a server nearby eager to make your children smile. From origami animals to twisted balloon creations, there are plenty of surprises in store. Promise to reward your kids’ good behavior with gelato after dinner (for an added fee).
For an additional fee, you can try the Pinnacle Grill steakhouse, Canaletto Italian cafe, sushi, seafood, and more. Grab a pizza or burgers for the kids first, and while you’re dining in style, they can play at Club HAL.
Holland America Line Entertainment
On board, there are plenty of things to help you keep the kids entertained for days at sea. You can find pools, hot tubs, and sports on every Holland America Line ship. You can enjoy movies in the movie theater or your stateroom. Some ships even have a game room where children can enjoy arcade games.
If you want to take advantage of the grown-up entertainment on board, Holland America Cruises feature a youth activities program called Club HAL for children between the ages of 3 and 17. Club HAL is supervised by full-time staff who provide crafts, video game competitions, and scavenger hunts.
Younger children ages 3 to 6 can enjoy activities like “Singing Storytime” and theme parties such as “Ships Ahoy Pirate Treasure Hunt Adventure. Tweens ages 7 to 12 can participate in ice cream eating contests and gaming tournaments, and teens ages 13 to 17 can play sports and have mocktail parties.
If you’d like to enjoy a day at port and the kids want to stay in, Club HAL is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and lunch is provided. Holland America Cruises makes it possible for you to see the world while your kids have fun on deck.
Club HAL is included in your fare on the following ships:
- Nieuw Amsterdam
- Nieuw Statendam
The following are some frequently asked questions related to cruising with children on Holland America Line.
How old do children have to be to cruise on Holland America Line?
Infants must be at least six months old before the start of the cruise or one year old for longer cruises. Children under the age of 21 must be traveling with an adult 21 years old or older. There must be at least one adult over 21 for every five children under the age of 21.
Some areas of the ship, such as adult-only pools, are restricted for children under 18. Guests under the age of 16 cannot use the fitness center. Children wearing diapers of any kind (including swim diapers) or who are not potty trained are not permitted in any pools or hot tubs.
Is there a discounted rate for children on Holland America Line?
There are reduced fares and discounts for additional guests and children beyond two adults in a party. Discounts vary, but in some cases, children may even travel free. Children also receive discounted rates in specialty dining rooms and shore excursions.
Are cribs, high chairs, and booster seats available on board?
Guests planning to travel with children who require cribs, high chairs, or booster seats must call and request these at least 90 days before the cruise. There are a limited number of these available, and travelers must request them in advance to guarantee availability.
If you run out of diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, or other essential supplies, they are available for purchase on board. Be prepared that they are much more expensive than they would be on shore like most things on board.
Does Holland America Line offer babysitting services on board?
Holland America Line does not offer any babysitting services on board. However, Club HAL is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on port days so that you can enjoy shore excursions at your leisure. Kids can also enjoy Club HAL during specified hours at sea. Club HAL is included in your fare.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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