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Old 12-29-2007, 06:42 PM
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Just found this site and find the info very informative. For Hank and the other experienced cruisers out there...we booked a 24 day HAL cruise on Zuiderdam for our family (two adults and two children- ages 5 and 6). We just watched a Samantha Brown episode and are scared to death. We prefer to travel more independently...but with two kids, this isn't always easy. We will be in Europe for the summer- the first half and last few weeks on our own. Should we do this cruise? Our fears are: food will be bad; will we feel like we are being herded on and off the ship and at meal times; we are younger and active- will there be other people our age and will there be kids on board; would you recommend a cruise of this length? I am worried we may want to jump off the balcony by day 12! I think the kids will love it...not sure about the adults. Thank you!
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Old 12-29-2007, 06:42 PM
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Just found this site and find the info very informative. For Hank and the other experienced cruisers out there...we booked a 24 day HAL cruise on Zuiderdam for our family (two adults and two children- ages 5 and 6). We just watched a Samantha Brown episode and are scared to death. We prefer to travel more independently...but with two kids, this isn't always easy. We will be in Europe for the summer- the first half and last few weeks on our own. Should we do this cruise? Our fears are: food will be bad; will we feel like we are being herded on and off the ship and at meal times; we are younger and active- will there be other people our age and will there be kids on board; would you recommend a cruise of this length? I am worried we may want to jump off the balcony by day 12! I think the kids will love it...not sure about the adults. Thank you!
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Old 01-02-2008, 09:28 AM
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I would be surprised if there would be many children on a cruise like this. Usually on long cruises like this you find more mature people who have the time and money to go on extended vacations. What exactly was the episode of Samantha Brown and what scared you? The food and entertainment on the ship should be excellent, but on a cruise of this length you should expect some repeating. You will have the option to choose to eat a few meals in port for a change of pace, and to experience the local flavor. Which is the exciting part of traveling.
The wonderful thing about this cruise is it will be port intensive. You will see a lot of countries, and experience a lot of culture. It should be very educational. A cruise provides you an excellent way to travel saving you money over flying to a destination and paying in Euros for hotels and meals. The cruise is very economical especially with the children. I'm sure at times it may seem to be long, but then other times it will fly.
I think the children are a little young and won't appreciate the education they could gain from this cruise. But I think the cruise is a comfortable, safe environment for them, and much easier than trapsing all around Europe with them, packing, unpacking, dealing with trains etc. There may not be many children on board, but that also means yours would get more undivided attention.
Hope this helps.
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Old 01-02-2008, 11:23 AM
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Thank you so much for your advice and great points. We continue to weigh the pros and cons of the length. The ship we are on has 2 12 day options- we booked the 24 day thinking it would be a good break from navigating on our own. We will be traveling for 10 weeks total with the kids and love the idea of having a children's program so that we can spend a day or night out alone while also traveling and experiencing the trip as a family. We traveled for 5 weeks last year in Europe independently with the kids, and although very young, it was an incredible experience for all of us. As you mention, it was exhausting at times getting from place to place even with our own car. We have taken three cruises previously- a couple of 4 days and a 7 day- all in the Carribean. We didn't bring the kids (or have them yet in some cases!). We prefer to be on our own time table so the structure of the day (when to get on, when to get off, when to eat) was a negative for us. Also, we didn't appreciate the food and felt that the ship (jewel of the seas on our last cruise) was not set up to accommodate the number of guests on board (i.e. on the days that we were at sea, you had to wonder the 'cafeteria' with your tray to find a place to sit; there weren't enough lounge chairs around the pool, and they were packed in so that you were touching the chairs on either side of you, etc). With the kids, our focus will be different, and we have read that the food tends to be better on Mediterranean trips- is that true? Do they serve any of the local cuisine on board? We aren't overly picky eaters and understand that you can't cook fine cuisine for 1,000 guests. We would be happy with Chilis or TGI Fridays quality but don't wany to eat Shoneys (no offense to Shoneys) for 3 weeks. The Samantha Brown episode featured her on a Med RCCL cruise. A few of her excursions looked very touristy and would not appeal to us (in Croatia, she took the countryside tour which sounded wonderful, but she ended up in a dining room with low ceilings and long tables full of tourists eating a meal while someone played a guitar). It didn't look authentic to us. We aren't big on the drop off at the local pottery place, perfume factory, etc. The Zuiderdam looks to have more space in the room and per passenger on the ship. We signed up for the open dining option so we have some flexibility with our schedule, and I have read that we can navigate many of the ports/ cities on our own. I think this should help many of our concerns but still uneasy about the food and length of the trip. Thanks again for your feedback!
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Old 01-02-2008, 11:31 AM
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That should be a great cruise with a bunch of very interesting ports. In reality, it is two 12 night cruises back to back. Because of this you'll probably see a considerable change in passengers mid-way.

Don't worry about food as it will be good and you will have plenty of choices. There are shipboard activities for the children that should free up some time for you and yours.

I don't think that 'feeling herded' will be a problem unless you opt for a very popular excursion. Even then, the groups get broken down so they are mini-herds instead of big ones (LOL.) I have yet to feel like a member of a herd on any cruise or excursion.

I would spend a bunch of time on Google and learn more about the ports that you will be going to visit. Each one will have something of interest for both adults and children.

Enjoy your cruise.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 01-08-2008, 02:50 PM
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How exciting - just read other responses to your questions and glad they were positive. One never knows but I think your trip can be good. We are grand parents - we always enjoy seeing children on cruises. Only once were there too many. We only did one Med cruise and only 4 ports but my suggestions is - you do not always have to do the cruise ship tours. Get off the ship - enjoy the countryside on your own. Arrange for a taxi. We find riding local buses enjoyable and educational. Just spend a few hours off the ship if you are tired of schedules and hurrying. Do your homework and explore all the ports on your computer. have fun - grandmag
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Old 01-09-2008, 07:55 AM
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We found cruising to be an outstanding way to travel with our children. It was especially great in the Baltic when we wanted to tour lots of historical sights during the day but the kids got a break in the children's program at night. If you are traveling in the summer, there should be enough kids on board for a critical mass. While we've never sailed on HAL, our favorite is Celebrity, which many people consider an "adult" line.

I strongly suggest that you research some private tours in your ports. I've just logged on here for the first time so I don't know how much port information is available here. I've found a lot at cruisecritic.com. The kids will not enjoy getting on a bus with a lot of adults and being driven from place to place. If you can arrange a private guide, your visit can be customized and paced to fit the family needs.
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Old 01-13-2008, 10:51 AM
 
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I have taken some time to weigh-in on this thread because its a tough call. Since the OP has experience with touring independently in Europe (the only way for us) I sounds like they do not need advice on the land portion. As to HA, we have recently found HA to be really excellent (we were recently on the Noordam) and they seem to be currently the best mass market line (We have also been on RCI and Princess and Celebrity in the past 8 months). Since the cruise is actually back to back 12 day cruises, there will be a reasonable number of kids during the summer. I would have some concern because HA does tend to attract an older crowd and their children's programs are not quite up to the standards found on RCI and Princess. But, your kids have some travel experience and assuming they are good travelers it might be fun. You will certainly have no problem with the food on-board, and with the Euro costing over $1.40 cruises are the most economical way to travel in Europe. One concern is that since you are used to land-based travel in Europe, you might not like the hurried port days in Europe. However, this is balanced by not having to pack/unpack, change hotels, forage for your meals etc. You are lucky to have the time to travel at such a young age, so what the heck, go for it!

Hank
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Old 01-14-2008, 07:05 PM
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Thanks Hank....we prefer to navigate on our own and have traveled to most of the cities on our itinerary previously (with and without kids) but not on a cruise ship. We have found car services to take advantage of the time that we have in port, but we don't want to lose the 'experience' of navigating the streets and getting lost on the back alleys (i.e. in Rome, we can have a car and guide take us around the city, but we fear that we would miss the wandering around the city and lingering in the piazzas). Advice?
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Old 01-16-2008, 03:45 PM
 
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Hard to give you advice since we agree with everything you say. In places like Rome, my DW and I will spend all day walking miles around the city. IMHO there is no better way to see any city than on your feet. But your kids cannot do that kind of walking so I guess you will need to compromise. Whether you feel comfortable dragging your children on and off public transit...only you can decide! When our daughter was young and we dragged her to Europe (we took her through 4 countries on a Eurorail pass when she was 9) we found that frequent ice cream (gelato) stops and Orangina (she loved that drink) went a long way to solving the child issues. But, not sure this will work with children as young as yours. We started our daughter on cruises when she was 5 (the old Fairwind) and more than 20 years later she still fondly remembers that cruise. But, taking children that age through the streets is different and sure does present logistical problems. Also keep in mind that in the summer, it can get quite hot and humid in Rome and some other Med cities and this can create addtional misery problems for children and adults. You will need to keep your flexibility, patience and sense of humor and hope that your children turn out to be great travelers.

Hank
 
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