Thursday, April 16, 2015

Holland America's Club HAL: Great Time & Amazing Customer Service

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Our experience with Club HAL on our cruise was amazing.

If you ask Catherine what was the best part of our recent cruise, she will emphatically exclaim "Kid's Club!"  Just look at that smile on her face!  (The face painting was a part of kid's club events.)  She loved it there, in fact, she still gets sad that we aren't on the Noordam so she can "go to Club HAL everyday!".

Club HAL® -- Kids is for children ages three to seven.  (I did see online that on the ms Prinsendam, children must be at least five.)  They play games, make crafts, color, play Legos, eat ice cream, watch movies, have a pajama party, and simply enjoy themselves.  Below is the main area for Catherine's age group, the three to seven year olds.  Tweens and teens have separate areas to play and hang out.

My daughter had a blast in this room during our cruise with Holland America.

Children participating in this program must be completely self-sufficient in the restroom as the staff cannot assist the kids.  They even had a smaller toilet and sink just for the kids!

The one and only negative was Catherine was quite sad one night.  On Pirate Night they built ships out of Legos but the "teachers", as she called them, put all of the Legos away before she had time to play with the ship.  All activities were scheduled, and while it was a somewhat loose schedule, they did try to follow it.  At home she's typically allowed to play with something until she's finished with it and then we move on to the next activity.  So I guess it was rather shocking and upsetting for her that she had to follow someone else's schedule and wasn't able to play with her creation.  I realize this is a very small thing, and it was exasperated by tiredness, but it was surprising to me to find Catherine on the verge of tears (even though she didn't want to leave) when I went to pick her up one night. (SEE MY UPDATE BELOW.)

Every single time I went to pick Catherine up from Club HAL she was disappointed to see me.  She always wanted to stay longer.  The above picture is after I picked her up and brought her back to our stateroom for bedtime.  She was begging and pleading to go back.  Dominic was sympathetic to her case.  While it was somewhat disheartening that my little girl didn't jump for joy to see me when she saw me coming to get her, I really loved that she enjoyed the youth activities.

It should be noted that Holland America takes the children's safety seriously, the staff at Club HAL is accredited by Praesidium, Inc..  They have a zero tolerance policy on child abuse.  All of the staff that Catherine and I encountered through Club HAL were fantastic.

For more of our cruise related fun check out the following:


As you know from reading this post, we had the fantastic opportunity to enjoy a Holland America Cruise.  I recently posted about our, and specifically Catherine's, experiences at Club HAL.  Overall she loved her time at "kids club".  In fact, she still talks about it regularly, mostly lamenting the fact that she can't go today.  As noted above, the one minor blemish of the week was that she didn't have time to play with her Lego creation one night.

A couple of days ago a large mysterious package arrived on our doorstep.  It was addressed to Catherine.  Her birthday isn't for a couple of months, and the grandparents hadn't said anything about sending something, so we were perplexed.

We opened it together and found an awesome Pirate Ship.  At the bottom of the box was the invoice with the note: "Sorry to hear you didn't get to play with your Lego boat at Club HAL. Hope you can enjoy playing with this one."  It only took a second to realize that this set was a gift from Holland America.  

Seriously, this Duplo set is pretty cool -- and this is coming from someone way past the recommended age.  A captain's wheel, mast and sail, a treasure chest, and even a cannon that shoots "balls" all come with this set.  Catherine did a great job putting it all together the "right" way first, and then had a blast free-playing with the blocks.  Upon opening the box she played with the Pirate ship for almost three hours, with minimal breaks.  We even ate dinner at our breakfast bar that night because the dining room table was still covered with the ship, an island, treasure, and the like.  She has played with the set everyday since then for hours.  Dominic has even been able to get in on some of the fun.

This has to be one of the most amazing instances of customer service that I've seen.  They cared about our experience -- even months after -- even though it was something minor.  Catherine loved Club HAL, and will emphatically tell you that it was the best part of the cruise.

I have to admit, this attention to detail, even long after we have disembarked, makes me want to sail exclusively on Holland America.  I'm not sure when our next cruise will be, but they have my vote!   

Thank you, Holland America!

I did receive a few amenities free of charge from Holland America, but everything you read on my blog is my honest opinion.


  1. I can definitely see why she enjoyed it so much! That place looks awesome!! I may take my kids there one day I’m sure they would love it also!! Thanks for sharing:)

  2. I loved Kid's club as a kid, it was my favorite! Catherine is adorable!

  3. What an amazing Kid's Club. I would love to go on a cruise one day. I know I'd love it and my daughter could hang out at the Kid's Club!

  4. We have never taken a cruise and keep talking about doing one. We live in Seattle near a lot of ports

  5. Summer Mitch RyanJune 8, 2018 at 9:43 AM

    Amazing! She does really look like she had the time of her life. I wish to bring my children to something like this someday.

  6. Oh my that looks like so much fun for the little ones.

  7. I've never been to a cruise but it will be a dream come true if I get a chance done day. I didn't like your girlsg crying pic. She looks cute while smiling.

  8. Wow, Holland America sounds like highly recommended. I love the companies that provides excellent customer service. Glad that you had a great time!

  9. Am sure Catherine is more happy now after receiving the gift :) And its so amazing that they surprised her, am feel with your review that Holland America is one of the best for kids and with amazing customer service.

  10. I am amazed at all they offer for kids activities. Now I want to take my family on a cruise.

  11. I need to go on a cruise but will first have to deal with the fear I have of them. I am sure my son would love kids club.

  12. A cruise with children sounds like fun! A great bonding experience with the fam too!

  13. I haven't been on a cruise yet, and my friend is always raving about them, might have to add one to my 2018 travel plans!

  14. Oh my goodness what some amazing sounding activities are going on here! A cruise is soemthing I would love to do one day.

  15. Sounds like an amazing cruise for the whole family especially if you have small kids. It's totally worth it and it's going to make their summer unforgettable!

  16. What a great way for kids to enjoy a cruise. It sounds like a lot of fun. (I think my kids would have wanted to keep playing with the pirate ship, too!)

  17. This looks like an amazing trip with kids. I love that the cruise ships offer activities for them. I hope to take my children on a cruise when they are a little older.

  18. I think it is great that they have activities like this for kids. It allows parents to have a more enjoyable vacation too.


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