Can you cruise Holland America with kids? Now I will be honest, Holland America has a reputation among cruisers as being aimed at an older demographic but is Holland America family friendly? In this guide we will look at the amenities on H0lland America for kids, their itineraries and other considerations to work out how family friendly Holland America is.
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While we think cruises are good with any age children, we find that their family friendliness differs greatly from ship to ship, line to line.
While this guide will look in-depth at cruising Holland America with kids, be sure to check out our other cruising for family guides:
- Cruising with a baby
- How to choose a baby friendly cruise
- Are babies free on cruise ships
- Can babies swim on cruise ships
- Baby cruise packing list
- Cruising with a toddler
Can you Cruise Holland America with kids?
So the first think you need to know when considering cruising Holland America with kids is whether or not you can actual cruise Holland America with kids.
There are definitely some cruise lines that only allow adults either on their entire fleet or on certain ships. However holland America, despite being known as catering towards an older audience, does allow children on their ships.
In fact we spent over 40 nights aboard the Holland America Maasdam and therefore I feel I am well positioned to answer the question is Holland America kid friendly?
What Age Does Holland America Cater for?
Depending on which of the Holland America cruise ship you are on and what itinerary you are doing will really depend on what age is catered for onboard Holland America.
For instance on cruises around the US such as a Holland America Alaskan cruise, a Holland America Caribbean Cruise or a Holland America Mexican Riveria cruise you will find there are more families.
However on their longer itineraries in more remote parts of the world for instance a Japan Cruise or South American Cruise you will find that the average age is much older and therefore children are less catered for.
If you are going on a longer cruise you may want to check out our post on what to do on cruise sea days as you are more likely to have more of these on longer length itineraries.
Is Holland America kid friendly?
As with any line, it really depends on the ship as to whether it is truly family friendly. In this guide we look at the amenities on the different Holland America Ships to see which ones and how family friendly they really are.
Holland America Kids Facilities
So what are the best things to do onboard a Holland America cruise with kids?
Firstly you will find that most of the Holland America Fleet have a kids club on board known as Club HAL. This kids club is for children aged between 3 and 17.
The following ships in the Holland America Fleet all have Club HAL Kids Club facilities:
- Nieuw Amsterdam
- Nieuw Statendam
Note: be sure that the kids club is running on your ship for your itinerary as these can be cancelled.
The Club HAL will usually offer things such as:
- crafts activities,
- competitions such as sports and video game competitions,
- scavenger hunts
to name just a few of the activities on offer.
The Kids Club onboard Holland America is called Club HAL and is available for children aged 3-17 years old. Toddlers must be fully potty trained to be able to use the kids club.
Also on top of the kids club there are usually facilities onboard Holland America cruise ships such as:
- table tennis
- shuffle board
- garden games such as chess and jenga
- sports deck
It is worth noting that if you are cruising with a toddler who is not toilet trained then they will be unable to use any of the swimming pools onboard.
For more information on cruise ship pools check out this post.
The food on Holland America for kids
For me food is a big concern when travelling with a toddler or traveling while weaning. However I find that cruising takes the stress out of food and travel with kids.
Holland America now offers any time dining which I think is really important for families who want to cruise.
Traditionally on cruises there used to be only two dinner seating times. This was very prescriptive and makes it hard for families who require more flexibility in dining options. Therefore the flex dining has definitely made Holland America more family friendly.
Holland America on all of its ships off a children’s menu in both the main dining room and on the room service which is great.
On our cruise in the main dining room we found the service of the children’s meal to be very quick – printably because there were so few children on our ship.
Our little one however preferred items on the adult menu – in particular the salmon so we just ordered this. Once we found a table and waiter we liked we stuck with them and they were always prepared for our little one which was great.
The menu itself has some activities for kids but strangely they don’t stock crayons in the dining room so either bring your own or pack some entertainment in your cruise packing list.
We did love however that the chef came out every night to talk to guests about dinner and he always made an effort with the toddler and brought her out a chefs hat.
My one complaint about children’s food on Holland America is that the Room service children’s menu starts at 5:30 which perhaps a tad late for those traveling with small children. When we were tired after a long day out we could have done with this starting perhaps at 5.
The selection on the children’s menu was quite good with starters like crudités, and dumplings dumplings and mains such as pasta.
The in room children’s menu was slightly more restricted however with items like quesadillas, chicken tenders and pasta with sauces.
For more first time cruise tips click here!
Holland America Babysitting Options
If you are cruising Holland America with kids you might be wondering if there are any Holland America babysitting services onboard especially if you are cruising with a toddler.
The answer is that there are some babysitting services available but there are no in cabin babysitting services available.
If you have children that are old enough you can use the kids club instead of the babysitting services.
Are Cabins on Holland America family friendly?
The thing to remember whenever you are cruising is that the rooms are pretty small. Even suites on cabins tend to be small.
Therefore it is really important to pack efficiently and only bring essentials. I know this is easier said than done if you are traveling with a baby or toddler so be sure to check out our guide on best strollers for cruise ship travel.
When looking for the best type of cabin for cruise travel things you might want to consider is:
- is there a dividing curtain between bedroom and living space so adults can watch tv once the littles have gone to bed
- how many people your room can sleep – important for larger cruising families
- is there a balcony
- does it have a bath – fun fact usually only Disney Ships and cruise suites have bathrooms as standard. Other room types usually have only showers.
We had a mini suite when we sailed onboard Holland America. It was a good size and we loved the large balcony however there was no divider between the living room and bedroom for those nights spent in the cabin which made it more difficult for us as a family. .
Holland America Loyalty Program for Families
One of the things I love about Holland America is the amazing family loyalty program. The more nights you spend on board, the larger the discount – up to 100% off – when people are staying in the same room which offers great savings for families especially those with small children!
For another families opinion on Holland america check out this post!
Overall: Did we find Holland America family friendly?
Overall I would say that how family friendly Holland America is really depends on the ship and itinerary you are planning on doing.
Holland America, especially the smaller ships, don’t have the amenities of the super ships like those of Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival.
We were generally speaking very happy on board our trip with Holland America however I don’t think this line would be right for families on all itineraries and for all vacations.
For me the the most important thing when booking Holland America is to pick the right itinerary. If I were doing a week around the Caribbean I probably wouldn’t choose Holland America. That is because on shorter cruises I want to have as much entertainment as possible for my child.
However for longer cruises, you need a bit more of a routine and the itinerary is more important.
But if you want to do a really unique and adventurous itinerary as a family then Holland America may be the perfect line for you as they do offer some really unique itienraries.
FAQs About Holland America with kids
What is the Holland america baby policy?
If you want to cruise Holland America with baby please note that the Holland America Baby Policy is that the minimum age is 6 months old to cruise. Some itineraries may require a higher minimum age so please check with the line before booking.
How old do children have to be to cruise on Holland America Line?
As I mentioned above, the minimum age to cruise Holland America is 6 months old. However if you itinerary has several consecutive sea days then the minimum age may be 12 months old.
Also there may be areas of the ship that will be off limits to children on Holland America Ships. There is usually an adults only pool on Holland America ships that children will be unable to use. Also the gym is usually off limits to under 16s too.
Are cribs and high chairs available on Holland America?
Cribs and high chairs are usually available onboard Holland America ships just be sure to request them a minimum of 90 days before you sail.
But it is worth noting that other baby and toddler provisions such as formula and diapers may not be available on the ship. And if they are they will be a premium price. For this reason we recommend taking everything you need for children on board with you.
Is there a Holland America Kids Sail Free Discount?
Depending on your dates of travel, the ship and the itinerary will depend on whether or not there are any family discounts. Check what discounts are on offer before you book but usually the best time to book a cruise is around Black Friday.
What is the Holland America Pregnancy Policy?
If you are thinking about taking your babymoon cruise on Holland America you
- Must not have completed 24 weeks of pregnancy by disembarkation
- Must have a physician’s letter of fitness to travel and confirming that the pregnancy is not high risk with an EDD (estimated due date) sent to the line before travel.