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View Full Version : If not Disney then......


Mala
02-12-2009, 10:18 AM
For the first time EVER we didn't rebook on our cruise last week. We decided we wanted to try some new ports so we're looking at Holland America or Princess. Since DCL is our point of reference, we're wondering what people who have sailed on these lines think of them. Our kids will be 5 and 7 and are particularly curious about their kids activities. Plus, we don't want to be nickled and dimed by "extras" that would be complimentary on DCL.
Please help!

Mala
02-12-2009, 11:37 AM
Bump, anyone? My husband wants me to book ASAP and I can't commit.

jxd
02-12-2009, 12:03 PM
Our kids are 6 & 4 and have been on 4 cruises to date. Our first Disney cruise will be this May (and we can't wait) so we can't compare anything to DCL. We took them on an Alaska Cruise last summer on Holland America. This was the best run kids club we have experienced so far. Far better than Carnival and RCCL. The Kid's Club staff was all English speaking Americans so there were no language barriers and most of them were college graduates in childhood studies. I would highly recommend an Alaska Cruise for this age. My 4 yr old still talks about things she saw last August and both kids beg to go back to Alaska on a regular basis. They didn't do this with the last 3 Western Caribbean cruises which were with Carnival and RCCL. I also think that Holland America has less children in general therefore your kids get more individualized attention rather than a bunch of kids crammed in a room with activities.

JsMom2
02-12-2009, 12:16 PM
The answer really depends upon what kind of vacation you want.

Do you want to spend a lot of time with your kids, or have clubs that are open all day on sea days - so that you have more flexibility with your schedule?

Are you looking for a port intensive itinerary or do you want to stay on the ship most of the time?

Here's what I can tell you first off...

In the Carnival Cruise Lines family, Carnival is the budget line and is more of a party ship (was just on Freedom in December, and NEVER again). Princess is more upscale and you'll find all ages onboard (was on the Crown last June and the Coral earlier this month). Holland America is higher up the scale and usually has an older crowd. I've heard that their kids programs are well run, but you might not find a lot of travelers in your and your kid's ages. Costa is "cruising Italian style" and we had a good experience with their kids club but that was in Europe. I'm not sure how their US cruises are run. Carnival also owns Cunard and the Yachts of Seabourn, but I don't think that's what you're looking for.

Royal Caribbean International has Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. We LOVE their Voyager and Freedom class ships (we were on both last summer). There is so much to do! However, their kids clubs do close from 12-2 and 5-7 each day. And there is an extra charge for late night group babysitting after 10pm. However, you can signup for in cabin babysitting for a very reasonable price. My DD is 10 and these ships are perfect for her. For your kids the Freedom class might be best, as they have the big water park on board. RCI also has Celebrity, which is supposed to have a good kids program but we've never tried. They also have Azmara which is an adult small-ship experience.

Then there's NCL. We had a bad experience on the Star when DD was 4, but we were on the Jade in December and LOVED it! And after 5 DCL cruises, she had a great time in the Kids club on NCL. I do think that the cruise line in general is hit or miss, so I'm not too sure of the other ships, but can definitely recommend the Jade.

You can checkout cruisecriticdotcom for more information on family cruising and the different ships.

Good luck!

Mala
02-12-2009, 12:23 PM
We're looking to do a 10 day southern Caribbean cruise. I spoke to a rep at HAL and the club closes at 10pm and then you can get in room babysitting by crew members. Honestly, that kinda freaks me out. She also said there would probably be only 20-50 kids on board total.

Does anyone have any experienec with NCL (specifically with the Gem)?

Ugh, I'm totally nervous about picking.

iloveokw
02-12-2009, 05:37 PM
My daughter like Princess almost as much as DCL when it came to the kids program and she thought the food was better. But her favorite is still DCL. You will have to pay for the soda card and there is only free ice cream offered at certain times and it isn't well publicized. Also one of our favorite things about DCL is the evening entertainment in the adult only section and that isn't the case on Princess. People can take their kids pretty well anywhere even if it isn't kid appropriate.

:banana: pirate: pirate:

john970
02-12-2009, 06:49 PM
Carnival and Royal Caribbean are our favorite lines. Carnival is a fun atmosphere without being too much of a party (stereotype). They have a lot of live entertainment (UNLIKE Disney)... many bands, good food, 24x7 pizza, good shows....

Royal Caribbaen has the ice rink and rock wall... they have the malls...

BOTH great lines.

Bracy
02-12-2009, 08:08 PM
We took our kids (9 & 4) on Celebrity Century last year. They had a great time, but didn't spend a ton of time in the kids club. As I recall the staff was all either American or Canadian. There were a lot of kids on board, but it was during Fl spring break and only a 5 nighter. Hours ran til 10pm i believe, but for a fee they had a slumber party in the kids club til 2am and the last night the slumber party was free. The slumber party has a limited number of slots so you have to sign up daily for it. We love Celebrity and highly recommend it. Don't know about Princess, but have been on HAL, without kids, and did not like it (no nightlife, poor service, poor customer service and a horrible stateroom). Good luck with your decision.

tvguy
02-12-2009, 08:48 PM
We have taken the kids on HAL, Disney and NCL Freestyle in that order. I can only speak to what we saw on paper, because our kids checked out the kids clubs on HAL and Disney and found nothing they wanted to do.
They did, however, find plenty to do among the regular activities on board.
Disney has the best kids programs, and dedicated places on the ship for them. HAL had nearly the same operating hours as Disney, but their kids clubs rotate through public rooms. NCL had almost nothing. In overall activities and service HAL was on par or better than Disney.
We figured the kids would want to get away from us and do stuff on their own. We were wrong. We were together 24/7 for the entire week, and they were the best vacations we have ever had. We were not mom and dad for that week, we were our kids best friends. It was an amazing transformation. Our kids discovered those people they knew as mom and dad were pretty cool people to hang with. And we discovered the same about our kids.
Only after we got home did I really kind of figure out why things ended up that way. Like a lot of folks, we NEVER got time to just hang with our kids at home. The normal routine included 30 to 45 minutes with them in the morning, rushing them out of bed, thru breakfast and to school....and in the evening 2 or 3 hours of homework, showers, dinner and off to bed.
Vacation is supposed to be a break from the routine. Since our normal routine was to spend very little time with our kids, the break was to spend a lot of time with them.

ruadisneyfan2
02-13-2009, 07:10 AM
We have taken the kids on HAL, Disney and NCL Freestyle in that order. I can only speak to what we saw on paper, because our kids checked out the kids clubs on HAL and Disney and found nothing they wanted to do.
They did, however, find plenty to do among the regular activities on board.
Disney has the best kids programs, and dedicated places on the ship for them. HAL had nearly the same operating hours as Disney, but their kids clubs rotate through public rooms. NCL had almost nothing. In overall activities and service HAL was on par or better than Disney.
We figured the kids would want to get away from us and do stuff on their own. We were wrong. We were together 24/7 for the entire week, and they were the best vacations we have ever had. We were not mom and dad for that week, we were our kids best friends. It was an amazing transformation. Our kids discovered those people they knew as mom and dad were pretty cool people to hang with. And we discovered the same about our kids.
Only after we got home did I really kind of figure out why things ended up that way. Like a lot of folks, we NEVER got time to just hang with our kids at home. The normal routine included 30 to 45 minutes with them in the morning, rushing them out of bed, thru breakfast and to school....and in the evening 2 or 3 hours of homework, showers, dinner and off to bed.
Vacation is supposed to be a break from the routine. Since our normal routine was to spend very little time with our kids, the break was to spend a lot of time with them.

Very well said. ITA!

You will talk to people whose kids loved and hated any and all clubs. The more people you ask, the more different opinions you'll get.
You just have to try something else to see what works for you.