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Holland America Line (HAL)
Adults and families and multigenerational groups who want a classic cruise vacation with modern amenities on mid-size ships. For those who want a deluxe experience, the high-end HAL suites provide concierge service and other luxuries associated with more expensive cruise lines. HAL has a broad appeal and offers programs and activities for all ages, from high-tech computer sessions to conventional Vegas-style entertainment.
Atmosphere and experience onboard:
For many years, HAL has been named "Best Overall Cruise Value" by the World Ocean & Cruise Line. The award recognizes the line's ongoing Signature of Excellence ships – the ms Maasdam, ms Statendam, ms Ryndam, ms Veendam and ms Rotterdam.
The fleet's Signature Class vessels have cabins on the upper decks, spa staterooms with special amenities and healthy room-service menus and adults-only sundeck areas called The Retreat, which feature tented (for rent) cabanas equipped with fruit trays, bottled water, iPods and other goodies.
Though some ships– notably the ms Rotterdam and the ms Amsterdam -- are "fancier" than others, with high-end artwork and ornate decor, all ships now feature the Mariner Dream Bed and high-end linens, flat screen TVs and bathroom enhancements. The new bar concept, Mix, encompasses three specialty lounges serving champagne, martinis and spirits and ales. The new Showroom at Sea features Broadway entertainers and the new resort pool, the Retreat, has an upscale pizzeria and a giant LED screen for evening movies.
An increasingly popular feature on all HAL ships is the Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine Magazine, which has been described as a "world class show kitchen at sea." In 2014, the center's enrichment program included a roster of celebrity chefs, epicures and authors, including New York Times columnist Mark Bittman and Food Network "Next Iron Chef" competitor, Jehangir Mehta.
The atmosphere on a HAL cruise is livelier and somewhat more relaxed than in the past. Though still wedded to fixed meal times, lunch hours have been extended when the ships are in port and alternative dining venues now offer more choices.
This premium line has traditionally been known for having an older clientele but has made a shift in recent years to appeal to a younger crowd by adding such features as alternative restaurants, concierge service for the higher-end accommodations, Internet cafes with Wi-Fi, spa cabins, indoor-outdoor pools and specialty bars and lounges;. With its upgraded children's programs, HAL is attracting multi-generational family groups, especially during its summer sailings to Alaska and its one-week Caribbean itineraries during school vacations.
Policies regarding children onboard:
Reservations will not be accepted for infants 6 months or younger for non-Transocean sailings or 12 months or younger for Transocean sailings at time of cruise. There are no programs for children under 3. HAL programs cover three age groups: 3 to 7; 8 to 12 and 13 to 17. Expanded children's facilities include teen lounges, gaming stations and parent-free zones with computers.There are babysitting services available on board.
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