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Taking the Kids: When rain upends your plans on a cruise ship

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

To meet families' needs, Holland America is piloting a new-style program on Oosterdam with the new Hi-Score area for older kids, teens and families -- everything from foosball to video games, old-fashioned board games to giant puzzle mazes. There are also youth spa offerings for moms and daughters and fathers and sons to do together.

And while the Hi-Score area on the 10th deck is designed for 10- to 17-year-olds, evenings, between 7 to 10 p.m., are designated family time when teens can challenge their parents and young families can join the fun. The staff, rather than facilitating activities, sit back and allow the kids, teens and their families to play together.

"You just go and do what you want and that's good," said Jessica Crawford, 14, from Vancouver, who nonetheless said she and her younger brother and sister felt "a little neglected," elsewhere on the ship.

(There is still a small kids' club where some supervised activities are offered for younger children, including on port days.)

Chun explained that the new program, including game nights and trivia, is in response to families' desire to spend more time together onboard.

Selica Ta Foya, from Albuquerque, a veteran of eight cruises gave a thumbs-down to traditional kids' programs. She'd rather be hanging with her cousins and grandparents. "A cruise is for family time," she said.


Anneka Nelson, 11, certainly was enjoying her fourth cruise, a "girls' trip" with her mom and grandma, who she doesn't get to see that often. "Super nice to go to different places and not pack or unpack," she said.

Super nice not to have to cook, clean or do laundry, added her mom, Lisa Nelson, a busy physician. "Life is so crazy," she said.

But not onboard, not even in the rain. Look around, Lisa Nelson said. "People are happy."


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