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Family cruises: How Holland America Line caters for big and small cruisers

Author: Sophie Chichester

Published on:

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Holland America Line appeals to discerning travellers who want to enjoy adventure and comfort on their cruise holidays, making it a great choice for multi-generational holidays - there really is something for everyone.

A Holland America Line (HAL) cruise is the perfect way for children to learn about the wonderful world around them, whether that means educational (and fun) trips to world-class heritage sights such as the Parthenon or Pompeii, or seeing whales, bears and eagles in their native habitat.

Onboard, the cruise line offers up everything from art and cooking classes or storytelling and treasure hunts for little ones, the latest tech and ‘cool’ places to hang out for teens to fine dining and spa sessions for the adults.

Multi-generational cruises are growing in popularity and the cruise line is responding accordingly.

HAL now attracts more than 25,000 children and their families onboard their ships every year.

No matter your age, you get to benefit from the company's legendary service, award-winning cuisine, fabulous live music and immersive experiences - in a wide variety of worldwide destinations.

One way HAL caters for family cruises is its staterooms and suites - they come in an array of sizes and configurations.

Family-friendly options include sofa beds, pull-down bunk beds and connecting rooms (ideal for explorative youngsters!)

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Pinnacle-class ships Nieuw Statendam, Koningsdam and Rotterdam also feature dedicated family staterooms with beds for five guests, extra wardrobe space and two bathrooms - one with a bathtub, shower, sink and toilet and one with a shower and sink.

There are also inter-connecting staterooms, ideal for larger families who want to connect balconies to form a larger outdoor space for sunbathing or pre-dinner drinks.

A number of offers are also in place that are perfect for big families.

If you are considering booking five staterooms or more, it's easy - as well as excellent value for money - to book as a group and receive extra group amenities or GAP points.

These can range from onboard spending money and internet packages to complimentary drinks or speciality dining.

Additionally, HAL offers a special family reunion package (when eight or more staterooms are booked).

This sees the head of the family receiving a free stateroom upgrade, a within-stateroom category upgrade for all family members, a $50-value fountain soda card per stateroom, Pinnacle Grill lunch for all family members and a $50-value beverage card per stateroom.

Holland America Line: Family-friendly options include sofa beds, pull-down bunk beds and connecting rooms. Credit: HAL

Enriching activities are wide-ranging so no matter your age you'll be kept entertained.

Grown-ups can relax in the Greenhouse Spa, watch a demonstration of regional cuisine at the Culinary Arts Centre, savour a fine dining experience, go dancing, or watch incredible BBC Earth video footage set to a live orchestra.

There’s also a choice of music for all tastes at Music Walk, from pure classical strings performances by Lincoln Center Stage, through Billboard Onboard (50 years of chart music played live); B.B. Kings Blues Club and even the Rolling Stone Rock Room.

Children, right from three-year-olds to 17-year-olds are very much spoilt for choice with HAL, helping keep your holiday running smoothly.

Club HAL provides complimentary supervised, age-specific activities for kids ages three to 12.

Younger cruisers (ages three to seven) can enjoy an imaginatively designed 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.

Holland America Line appeals to discerning travellers who want to enjoy adventure and comfort. Credit: HAL

Creative activities take place at art tables and movies play on a big-screen television, while activities may include kids’ Olympics, candy bar bingo, arts and crafts, pyjama parties and storytelling.

Those between eight and 12 have their own Club HAL area with video games, air hockey, foosball, Kinect for Xbox 360, and large LED screens for gaming and movies.

They also can enjoy dance parties, deck sports, karaoke and Xbox tournaments.

Older ones needn't worry about getting stuck with the babies - the Loft is a place for teens ages 13-17 to call their own.

Designed to resemble a New York artist’s loft, this lounge offers an adult-free zone where teens can enjoy music, games, films and simply hang out.

They can try their steps at Just Dance on the Xbox and sing their hearts out in karaoke or take part in volleyball, a steel drum class and ‘mocktail mixologies’.

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Your children will also have the chance to learn useful (but fun!) skills onboard.

For example, there are complimentary Culinary Arts sessions just for kids, tweens and teens, with 45-minute classes that teach them cookery skills.

The menu is pretty tasty: under-eights may learn to make Bear Tracks (Alaska theme cookies), Denali Peaks (Alaska theme scones), ice cream sandwiches and salad people art, while older children create soft pretzels, granola bars, pita chips, hummus and saltwater taffy.

Parents can rest assured their young ones will be looked after throughout - Club HAL and teen activities operate all day during sea days with breaks for meals.

When adults fancy some alone time, HAL has you covered.

Babysitting services are available at a very reasonable cost after 10pm while complimentary Club HAL programmes also operate on port days for kids ages three to 12 who sign up the day before, enabling parents to enjoy a relaxing and child-free break ashore.

Of course, there are plenty of optional family-friendly shore excursions available.

Everyone can come together for drinks and dinner every evening. Credit: HAL

For instance, at Half Moon Cay, HAL's award-winning Bahamian private island (visited on all Caribbean cruises) younger guests can enjoy Waterworks, an incredible aquatic playground for kids, which has a mini waterslide, water nozzles, sprayers and colourful and climbable sea creatures.

Meanwhile, in Alaska, the Junior Ranger Programme in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park allows kids to interact with National Park rangers and earn their Junior Ranger Badge on a fun and educational day that’s full of glaciers and sea life.

Whether the family have spent the day together or apart, everyone can come together for drinks and dinner every evening.

HAL offers special menus for kids in the Dining Room, the Lido Restaurant and the Terrace Grill.

These include child-friendly favourites such as lasagne, pizza, tacos, fish and chips, and burgers.

HAL's award-winning menus also include “light and healthy,” dishes from around the world and vegetarian cuisine.

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The 12-night Mediterranean Empires stops at Venice. Credit: Adobe Stock

So, what sort of itineraries does Holland America Line offer that families can enjoy?

12-night Mediterranean Empires

9 August 2022 – Westerdam ‘Classical Wonders’

  • Overnight stays in both Istanbul and Venice for more time ashore and deeper discoveries
  • UNESCO World Heritage sites and tours: Olympia, The Parthenon Temples; Ephesus
  • Greek islands and beach trips: Crete & Mykonos

10-night Jewels of the Baltic

6 July 2022 – Nieuw Statendam ‘Cities & Culture’

  • Overnight stay in St Petersburg with an opportunity to see all the highlights on a two-day escorted small group tour
  • Visit Baltic capitals: Tallinn (Estonia); Stockholm, with its fascinating museums (we recommend the Vasa Museum!); Helsinki; Berlin (on a tour from Warnemunde) and Hamburg

Seven-night Alaska Inside Passage

6 August 2022 – Koningsdam ‘Glaciers & Wildlife’

  • Full day at Glacier Bay National Park watching for whales, grizzly bears, seals – and learning about glaciers
  • Kids may join the Junior Ranger Programme in Glacier Bay National Park, interact with National Park rangers and earn their Junior Ranger Badge on a fun and educational day that’s full of glaciers and sea life.
  • Amazing optional tours include dog sledding, zip-wiring; whale watching boat trips; floatplane and helicopter rides (Minimum age requirements apply)

Seven-night Tropical Caribbean

15 December 2021 – Eurodam ‘Fun in the Sun’

  • A full day on HAL’s private island Half Moon Cay, featuring a fun aqua park, a stingray lagoon, plus biking, horse riding and nature trails
  • Kayaking, Segway and Flowrider experiences at Grand Turk (Minimum age requirements)
  • Dolphin encounters at Amber Cove

Call Holland America Line on 0344 338 8605 or visit


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