Although some of Volendam's longer and more exotic itineraries may not be for families with children, summertime Alaska cruises can be popular with families. And, while you might think that the ship's old-school style wouldn't welcome youngsters, that's not exactly the case. While Volendam is a far cry from a Disney ship, children over 6 months of age are welcome aboard. Connecting cabins are plentiful, as are triples and quads. Special kids' meals are available (even from room service) and, by advance request (before sailing) through the Ship Services Department, you can arrange for commercial baby food, diapers and refrigerators (for a fee). High chairs, booster seats and cribs are available at no charge.
Club HAL operates separate, all-day programs for kids and tweens on sea days, with breaks for meals. On port days, programs operate for kids ages 3 to 12 -- but kids must be signed up the day before. A program with the next day's events is delivered nightly to every cabin with a child.
Group babysitting services are available from 10 p.m. until midnight for registered children ages 3 to 12 who are participating in Club HAL. The cost is $5 per hour, per child.
Separate from Club HAL, limited daytime babysitting for children under age 5 can be arranged on sea days, at a rate of $10 per hour for the first child and $7 per hour for each additional child.
Note that children must be potty-trained to use the pools and all kids under age 16 must be supervised by an adult at all times when using a pool or hot tub.
The Club HAL space for kids ages 3 to 7 consists of a creative playroom, where paintbrushes serve as pillars, enormous pencils adorn the wall, a paint bucket is a play area and a huge tape dispenser serves as a slide. Age-appropriate activities take place at art tables and movies play on a big-screen TV. Activities include kids' Olympics, candy bar bingo, arts and crafts, dance parties, karaoke, Xbox tournaments, pajama parties and storytelling.
The space for tweens, ages 8 to 12, features video games, air hockey, foosball, Kinect for Xbox 360, and large LED screens for gaming and movies. They also can enjoy dance parties, deck sports, karaoke and Xbox tournaments.
Through age 12, children must be signed in and out of Club HAL by a parent or guardian.
Volendam's stylish teen hangout (for ages 13 to 17) is called The Loft. Designed to resemble a New York artist's loft, this lounge offers an adult-free zone where teens can enjoy music, games, movies and simply get away from the rest of the ship, high up on Deck 9. Activities include Just Dance (for Xbox), karaoke, video gaming, volleyball, a steel drum class and a mocktail workshop. Teens also have their own outdoor spot, called The Oasis, on Deck 10, decorated with faux volcanoes and palm trees, as well as loungers and small alcoves with tables and chairs for socializing. This area is accessed from a spiral staircase in The Loft, one deck below.