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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    6,407

    Default Holland America cruise anyone?

    Has anyone been on a HAL cruise in the last 10 years? When I search posts the most recent are from 2005.

    My family is taking a cruise soon and I'm semi excited/semi panicked. Partly b/c my kids haven't been on a cruise before and it's been 10 years since I did! I'm wondering if I need to bring my DD2's floaties for beach days, or if soda really costs $6 or if we have to eat at 8:30pm! Also I'm wondering if there will be any other kids on board since my cruisecritic research shows that this particular cruise line is mostly for 65+. Hmm.

    Anyway, if you have been on a HAL cruise or perhaps any cruise with kids and have some solid advice I'd love it.

    Thanks all!
    babygirl 10-29-07
    baby sister 7-17-11

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    2,661

    Default

    Honey, I haven't done a HAL cruise before but I have done two with kids, the most recent being in June. I'd bring the floaties if you have room for them and whatever else they like to use in the water (like goggles). Our last cruise had life jackets to use in the pool but I don't think I'd count on that being the case. They'll be other kids on board - may not be a ton but there will be some. I'm sure they have a kids club too that you can take advantage of. Are you going mid-winter?

    Re beverages - cruise lines have all sorts of drink packages now (which annoy me - things used to be much simpler). If you're not already signed up for one, you can just do it on board. Same with the eating - even if you have a set dining time, that doesn't mean that you have to eat there. You can always eat at another restaurant on board when you want.
    I suppose that is one of the nice things about cruises, there is always food available when you need to eat.

    Have lots of fun! Where are you stopping?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    6,407

    Default

    Ah goggles, I would have forgotten those, thank you! I'm thinking of packing a couple sand toys too, since what fun is the beach without digging (says my 5 year old). We're headed to the Caribbean this month, stopping at Georgetown, their private island, Cozumel and Key West. I've never been to any of those locations. I haven't selected any excursions yet b/c the choices are overwhelming. We might just wing it. I kind of feel like the cruise is enough, not sure I want to book another boat'ish trip (ie snorkeling) on top of that. Especially since my kids aren't exactly avid snorkelers.

    They have a kids club on board and we're hoping the kids like it. I'm imagining date days, couples massages and dinners out.
    babygirl 10-29-07
    baby sister 7-17-11

  4. #4
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    Jun 2005
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    2,250

    Default

    Our family did a cruise on Princess this past summer. Like Holland, Princess has a reputation of having older clientele. Plus, we were on a non typical kid itinerary - Northern Europe. There were still kids and the kids club was fine. It wasn't as great as the Disney kids club, but that is to be expected. One thing that caught us a bit off guard about the kids club is that it would be closed for several hours per day, around meal times. So, my advice is to check the kids club hours.

    We had anytime dining, which most cruise lines now have. Instead of having a set dinner time at a set table with the same other people, you can go to one of the other dining rooms and be seated on a first come first served basis. We really liked the anytime dining as it gave us a lot of flexibility. I would look into that option.

    We haven't done a beach cruise, so I don't have any advice about what to take or excursions. But I would look into tours/excursions outside of what the cruise line offers.

  5. #5
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    Jun 2005
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    Thanks Scarlett. My only other cruise was also in the caribbean, but not with kids. I'm hoping we can just walk off the boat and look around/find a beach and not worry about a full or 1/2 day outing. That just seems like too much. But maybe I'll feel differently once we're there.

    And yes, I'd seen that the kid's club has 2-3 hr sessions with breaks in-between, around meal times. The only long stretches are during port days, but it seems weird to leave the kids behind.
    babygirl 10-29-07
    baby sister 7-17-11

  6. #6
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    Jun 2005
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    Oh, and we didn't do any type of beverage package. I typically don't drink soda, and no coffee or tea at all, so it wasn't worth it. And the alcohol package was priced such that we would have to drink over 6 drinks every day to come out ahead. We just paid as we drank.

  7. #7
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    Jun 2005
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    I think we'll skip the soda too, although I might bring some cans onboard for my DH. I was looking forward to dinners with nice glasses of wine, so might do a pay as you go for those. I'm hoping the tap water is good enough that we won't need bottles.
    babygirl 10-29-07
    baby sister 7-17-11

  8. #8
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    Jun 2005
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    Our tap water was fine. If want wine with dinner, you can get a bottle and they will keep what you don't drink for another night. That is cheaper than ordering by the glass.

  9. #9
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    Jun 2005
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    So I ended up joining the cruisecritic site so that I could ask more questions, they have so many members (900K) that it took 6 tries to find an unused screen name. There are some serious cruisers on there btw, I feel like such a newbie.

    I was relieved to discover that until this week (!!!) HAL allowed smoking on their verandas. They are now restricted to only a couple smoking areas which is a relief. With our luck we would have had a chainsmoker next to us. I seems that they are one of the last cruise lines to add this restriction.
    babygirl 10-29-07
    baby sister 7-17-11

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    The cruise critic forum is a good resource, but I didn't have much luck getting my specific questions answered. Mostly I just absorbed a bunch of info from my specific destination board and my specific cruise line board.

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