Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Holland America
Sailing Date: February 15th, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
I just want to focus here on the children's programs since I had heard what great strides HA was making in this area. I'm here to tell you that if this is progress, I'd hate to see where they started. The facilities were woefully inadequate, the programs substandard and the age groupings totally inappropriate. The 12 year olds often ended up with the 5 year olds. Imagine how long my 12 year old son put up with that! It didn't take long for them to abandon the ClubHAL stuff altogether.
Not that this is a ship optimized for kids anyhow. While there were supposedly 200 kids on the ship, there was no critical mass of them anywhere, as there were no logical places for them to "hang." The net result of all this was that our kids spent a lot of time with each other, and us. No, that's not totally bad but I contrast this with a cruise we took two years. Admittedly, the Explorer of the Seas (RC) is about 50% larger than the Oosterdam. But it seems like that entire 50% went to kid-friendly things. And those things that HAL does have in control -- e.g., hours of the ice cream bar -- are not what they could be.
You'd think that might be a 24 hour thing...but noooooo. If this is beginning to sound like a rant, I apologize. Was this a good vacation? Yes. Would I ever take my kids on this ship/line again? No.