Travel advisor Rodney George, managing partner, Luxe Travel Consultants, talks Holland America sailings in Alaska.
Paloma Villaverde de Rico (PV): In the Holland America Westerdam article that’s featured in the March issue of Recommend, HAL’s Bill Fletcher, Alaska marketing and sales, points out that, “As the top destination for first-time cruisers, Alaska has developed into a top family or multigenerational cruise destination.” Do you agree with this assessment and can you expand on what makes cruising in Alaska so ideal for families and multigen families?
Rodney George (RG): Holland America especially appeals to multi-generational groups due to its extensive range of activities for children, teens and adults. Families can enjoy many activities together or separately. For example, kids, parents and grandparents can all play together in one of the ship’s swimming pools, go to a movie and dine at one of the restaurants with special children’s menus. Or the kids can expend their youthful energy at Club HAL and enjoy teen activities while the grown-ups relax in the Greenhouse Spa, watch a Culinary Arts Center chef demonstration, savor a fine dining experience, go dancing, play in the casino and/or watch a live Broadway-style show.
For parents traveling with children in the same stateroom on individual fares, Holland America Line offers reasonable third- and fourth-berth cruise fares. The price depends on itinerary and length of cruise.
Holland America Line’s Culinary Arts Center offers a special activity program designed just for kids, tweens and teens. The program teaches kids to prepare various dishes and snacks in complimentary classes lasting 45 minutes each. Preparations range from simple to teen sophisticate. Kids under eight years old learn to make Bear Tracks (Alaska theme cookies), Denali Peaks (Alaska theme scones), fruit leather roll-ups, ice cream sandwiches and salad people art. Kids age eight and older enjoy making soft pretzels, granola bars, pita chips, hummus and saltwater taffy.
Holland America Line offers special menus for kids in the Dining Room, the Lido Restaurant and the Terrace Grill. These menus include kid favorites such as hot dogs, sandwiches, lasagna, pizza, tacos, fish and chips, burgers, chicken dippers and spaghetti. Young and older cruisers alike especially enjoy the ice cream and dessert bar in the Lido Restaurant. Parents with younger children often choose casual dining in the Lido Restaurant during the early evening. Here, tasty yet simple main courses are served tableside while salads and desserts are offered buffet style. Holland America’s award-winning menus also include “light and healthy,” ethnic and vegetarian cuisine for families preferring those dining choices.
Safety & Security Club
HAL and the teen program have an open door policy—with the provision that children through age 12 must be signed in and out of the activities. Teens may come and go as they please, choosing which activities they want to attend. Guests may meet the Club HAL and teen staff on embarkation day at Club HAL’s “Explorer Club HAL” Open House. Holland America Line’s Club HAL and teen staff are permanent, full-time employees. All have college degrees—more than half focused on education studies. Most staff members also have experience in education or related fields such as child development, recreation or leisure studies. The number of Club HAL staff aboard is determined by the number of children and teens in each age group sailing on the cruise. Each ship has an onboard Medical Center staffed by a licensed physician and three registered nurses. The Medical Centers are equipped with emergency medical facilities and a well-stocked pharmacy. Security staff regularly patrols the ship.
Oh, and did I mention, that each Holland America Alaska sailing has a full time naturalist on board?
PV: What makes Holland America an ideal choice for an Alaska cruise?
RG: For starters, Holland America has been the leader in cruising to Alaska for 68 years. They recently acquired the McKinley Chalet Resort (a 68 acre property) at Denali National Park, and can now offer a destination resort experience that complements the majesty of all of the surroundings. Couple that with their own McKinley Explorer domed railcar service for the dramatic scenery between Anchorage and Denali and you have a wilderness land vacation as a complement to your 7-night north- or south-bound cruise.
PV: Is choosing an Alaska cruise a better option for first-timers to Alaska than doing a land journey and why?
RG: Yes—but with a land tour. Alaska has a very limited highway system and most parts of Alaska are only accessible by seaplane, helicopter or boat. While some visitors may want to “drill” deeper into Alaska at some point, we feel the absolute best way to “meet” Alaska is via a cruise with a land tour added to experience the magnificence of Denali National Park and Mt. Mckinley.
For more on Holland America, check out the March feature, Alaska Through a Porthole.