Yesterday we enjoyed the best Seattle has to offer, today is being spent at sea, traveling toward Alaska. It’s a great opportunity to explore Oosterdam. Although my main motivation for coming on this cruise is to explore the Alaskan wilderness, I still want to make sure my 12-year-old son has a lot of fun on board. I’d heard Alaska cruises attract an older clientele and wondered whether there would be other kids sailing. While people definitely don’t come on an Alaska cruise to party, we definitely aren’t feeling like we’re on a seniors cruise. There are plenty of families and young folks and there’s plenty of fun to be had!
220 kids are cruising with us aboard Oosterdam. Each day the kids program, Club HAL, schedules a variety of activities from scavenger hunts to Wii tournaments to basketball shoot-outs for the various age groups. Kids are separated into the 3-7 year-old group, the 8-12 year-old ‘tweens, and then there’s the ship’s teen hangout, the Loft. If you’re looking for the most cutting edge kids activity center, this may not be your best choice. Other family-focused cruise lines allow kids to run the ship, but Holland America runs a tighter ship— striking a nice balance between those with kids and those looking to enjoy a vacation without children being the center of attention. We saw quite a few large inter-generational families traveling together. If you’ve got both grandparent and grandchild, or even great grandchild sailing, this is the perfect cruise.
Cooking classes and demonstrations are the in thing. To meet that growing interest, Holland America has designated one theatre as a culinary arts center offering daily classes and demonstrations. Watching he chef and his sidekick cutting it up in an entertaining cooking show was a fine way to spend a half hour at sea. If you’re hungry for more, sign up for hands-on cooking classes that costs an additional $29. You have to be 18 to attend those so it wasn’t an option for us.
Holland America doesn’t have a reputation for being the party cruise line. They’re known for attracting an older, more dignified crowd and the nightly entertainment reflects that. The ship’s company of professional singers and dancers perform some pretty typical musical reviews and there’s an array of live musicians performing nightly throughout the ship. The piano lounge is a lot of fun and the HalCats strike a nostalgic chord with their old time rock-n-roll classics. Flashing lights keep going all night in the disco, though barely anyone was on the dance floor when we stopped by. During the morning waltz lessons the floor was packed.
Are you a classical music lover? Then take note, you’ll have a hard time leaving Explorer’s Lounge; it’s home base for the ship’s visiting classical musicians. During our cruise, a Hungarian pianist and violinist were performing together as Adagio. Playing classical as well as classics from the American songbook, they had us all captivated. Again, Holland America is not the cruise where you’re going to have limbo or beer drinking contests. But if listening to talented musicians while you enjoy a martini is music to your ears, the intimate and richly decorated Explorer’s Lounge will be the happy hour of your dreams.
Just for Laughs
The musicians aren’t the only ones who scored a hit with the audience. Comic Julie Barr had us roaring with laughter.
Here are a few more of my favorite things:
Join us tomorrow for the scenic sail amidst the fjords of Tracy Arm, Alaska.
Curious about this and other voyages aboard Holland America? Make sure and visit their website for complete details on their full 2012-2013 voyage lineup.
Andrea Guthmann is a Midwest Emmy Award-winning broadcast, print and digital journalist. She spent many years as a TV producer for WTTW, the PBS station in Chicago. Her writing’s been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent and on-line travel sites. She’s also the Midwest blogger for TravelingMom.com.
A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from tot to teen. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago. Being a scenery starved city girl, she loves escaping to the outdoors during vacations. She’s thrilled to be sharing tales of her Alaskan adventure aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam through August 5th, 2012, through daily reports on AvidCruiser.com.
Dsclosure: Holland America Line is hosting the author and her guest for purposes of this review.