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Cruise Diary: Traveling Aboard Oosterdam with Kids

Recently I cashed in on a Holland America Line employee benefit and took my family on a week-long cruise to Mexico. I’ll share a few photos on the blog this week, but be warned, I took my kids and will focus on what it was like to cruise with a five-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son.

We boarded ms Oosterdam in San Diego for the trip south to Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We enjoyed sunny weather all week. It was just the break we needed from soggy Seattle.

After a seafood lunch ashore in San Diego, we boarded the ship and relaxed in our quad verandah stateroom. Madeline and Owen enjoyed exploring the ship, our stateroom and spending time on the sunny verandah.

The first two days are sea days before arriving in Mazatlan. Madeline took advantage of the kids’ program on board and participated in many activities with Club HAL including movie time, arts and crafts, games and contests. However, kids must be fully potty trained and able to use the bathroom alone to be in Club HAL. That left out Owen who just turned three and is still working on his potty skills. That left us as prime entertainers. What did we do? It actually was pretty easy to keep him entertained. We did many, many laps around the promenade deck—at least twice a day and sometimes more. Both kids loved the wide open teak deck wrapped around the ship. Once we opened the door, they took off like rockets with us chasing behind. Great exercise for the whole family!

Another daily activity was the sport court. An enclosed basketball court on the top, aft of the ship provided a perfect place for the kids to get out their energy. Basketballs were always available though we often used them as soccer balls too.

The sunny weather called for lounging poolside as well. Note that for health reasons kids with swim diapers are NOT allowed in the pool, but there is a nice shallow rim around the pool that gave Owen a perfect place to splash water on his feet and delighted Madeline who skipped through the water.

Chess was also a popular daytime activity on sea days. By day two we were all getting the hang of cruising.

Stay tuned for more posts on cruising with kids.

Sarah Scoltock is Holland America Line’s public relations manager.

  • cruisin since 3

    What a great post, I can’t wait to hear more! We leave on May 9th for Bermuda with our 5 and 3 year old sons – my 3 year old’s name is Owen too! How was your dining experience with children?

  • Sarah

    We dined in the main dining room for dinner most nights. They have an excellent kids menu. My daughter likes seafood so she often ate off the regular menu. We dined early and enjoyed it. No problems. The dining room staff is attentive and very accommodating. They have crayons and pictures to color. We paid for a sitter (ask at front desk) on two different nights and on one of those nights we dined, sans kids, in the Pinnacle Grill. So nice! We also ate dinner once in Canaletto (free but make a reservation). The Lido is also open for dinner. We took the kids there for dinner on the night we ate in the P.G.

  • Barbara

    Thanks for posting and I look forward to more. I am trying to convince my daughter in law that cruising is for kids, too. She has a 4 1/2 yr. old and a 3 yr. old. I think between she and I we could handle things rather well!

  • dctravel

    Thank you for this post (and future posts) on this topic. We are very interested in eventually taking my daughter (now 2) on a cruise, but feel we need to wait a little bit longer. Knowing what other people experience is so helpful for us in making our decision!

  • Erik

    Thank you for the posting. We leave the end of January with our two kids. (7) and (9).
    We were a bit hesitant to take them on HAL as we were under the impression that it was geared more towards adult cruising but we got such a great deal that we couldn’t pass it up.
    Does the “club HAL” kids program cost?

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