Veendam can have more than 100 children onboard per cruise during the summer months, although numbers can be much smaller, depending on the sailing date. The ship actually has some very nice youth lounges tucked away behind the basketball and tennis courts on Deck 12. Four separate rooms include Club HAL for younger kids, ages 3 to 7; a separate play area for tweens, ages 8 to 12; a video arcade and the Loft, full of crushed-velvet couches and comfy chairs for loafing teenagers, ages 13 to 17. Steps lead from the Loft to the Deck 13 Oasis, a private sun deck for teens. The Oasis has a pirate chic feel with hammocks, splash pools with waterfalls, and tables and chairs made to look like wine barrels. Parents aren't allowed, although the area is supervised by the ship's youth counselors.
The great thing about Veendam's kids' lounges is that they're situated in out-of-the-way areas of the ship. The kids feel they have their own enclaves, and HAL guests without kids don't feel the presence of so many children. Kids are technically not allowed in the Crow's Nest and Mix at night, unless supervised by an adult, but these rules are relaxed when there aren't very many children onboard.
Counselors meet at the beginning of the cruise with parents and guardians, who must personally drop off and pick up each younger child. Structured programs are scheduled for all age levels. Kids, ages 3 to 7, can participate in activities like kids Olympics, tie-dying T-shirts, candy bar bingo, arts and crafts, pajama parties and storytelling. The 8 to 12 set has a schedule of dodgeball, swim parties and video-game play. Teens can hang out and play video games or take part in Ping-Pong competitions, karaoke and teen discos. Age-appropriate movies are shown in Club HAL, and kid-friendly cooking classes take place in the Culinary Arts Center. After-hours babysitting is available on a limited basis for an extra fee.
A children's menu is available in the Rotterdam Dining Room, Lido Restaurant and Terrace Grill, offering smaller portions of dishes like spaghetti, hamburgers, tacos and chicken fingers.
Women who will be 24 or more weeks pregnant by the last day of the cruise are not accepted as passengers. Neither are infants younger than 6 months old. For older babies, passengers can arrange for baby food, diapers and refrigerators for an extra fee; high chairs, booster seats and cribs are available for free. Parents can play with kids younger than 3 in the children's facilities at specific times.