Our cruise was booked almost a year in advance by my mother-in-law. We knew the planned date was before my daughter was three, so my mother-in-law asked if they'd be able to take my daughter who turns three one week after our cruise. They said yes as long as she was potty trained. After I read through all the information I wasn't sure that they would take her, so I called and again I was told as long as she was potty trained they would make an exception and take my daughter in the kids club. This was after we had booked.
So I got my hopes up. I envisioned a cruise where I would have time alone with my husband, I would have time to exercise and enjoy all the amenities. I was super excited. I started potty training my daughter nine months ahead and we were ready to go. Here's how our cruise went... (All of the pretravel was booked with Holland America also)
Day 1: Fly to Anchorage with two small children - somewhat challenging, but fine, hotel extremely loud, all of us wake up several times.
Day 2: 8 hour train ride to Denali National Park - beautiful views, good food, but I felt like the majority of my time was spent entertaining my kids so they didn't bother the other adults on the train.
Day 3: 10 hour bus ride to Seward for cruise - this third day of travelling in a confined space is getting really hard with an almost three year old and a five year old. I felt like I didn't see much because I was just trying to keep the kids from bothering anyone else the whole time. We boarded the ship around 5pm. After unpacking, my husband took my son to the kids club which our son was super excited about, he tried to sign up our daughter as well, they would not take her. I am in tears at this point. One of the women working in the kids club told my husband that there were sitters available for our daughter.
Day 4: So I try to make the best of it and we go up the next morning and ask if we can pay for the sitter and they can watch her in the kids club. The answer is absolutely not. Their way to make amends for this is to offer us $10/hour babysitting for our daughter only in our cabin. Seriously?!? There are no other kids for her to play with, there is nothing for her to do, and it's just weird! The cruise director was not at all flexible about this and was condescending when telling us all of this. He kept talking about us suing the cruise line if they put her in there. He made it sound like they were liable if she was in the kids club, but not for the babysitting, so that makes me feel even less comfortable with the "compromise" he has come up with. He also admitted that the sales people lie to get a sale and his attitude was basically, so what, deal with it. So I'm extremely upset at this point, this cruise I've been looking forward to for almost a year, the majority of the plans I had in place are out or my husband and I are taking turns doing things by ourselves.
Day 5: We are trying to enjoy ourselves on the cruise despite the set back. My husband gets roped into the dancing with the starts contest with me because he's being a good sport because I'm upset. They end up picking my husband to go on to the finals. They have him dancing with this hot 20 year old girl. The cruise director is the host for this, and decides to tell me then that this is the babysitter he's lined up for us.
Last day of the cruise: My husband is in the contest, he does a good job at something he never wanted to do and was pretty embarrassed about. The cruise director makes the comment on stage in the end, "all I could think when you had her in your arms was get a room for Pete's sake". I thought it was incredibly inappropriate. I'm in the audience with several of my in-laws, both of my kids. He didn't make comments like that for the other guy that was married with kids. It felt like he was trying to make it uncomfortable because we complained.
The food was good, it was clean, the views in Alaska were stunning and everyone else besides the director were incredibly kind and helpful. My advice to make your trip better than mine: Don't listen to anyone you call and ask questions to if they say that they will let something slide that is not in the fine print. If you do, write down their name and title. Also don't complain to the cruise director unless you want him to passive aggressively retaliate. It makes me so mad that we asked about this when booking and if the sales people were honest we could have booked a week later and not had any of these problems.
It was awesome, I would highly recommend it if you aren't afraid of heights.