A cruise to Europe can be the ideal family vacation. There is something for everyone, from history and culture to sun and fun. And every Holland America Line ship is welcoming to guests of all ages. In fact, the Club HAL program is set up to entertain kids from three through teen. Guest Joost van Driessen took another cruise to Europe on Noordam with his wife and two daughters, Kim and Rhodé. From onboard to ashore, see how Joost enjoyed his 11-day Mediterranean Explorer cruise from Barcelona, Spain, to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy.
Shortly after noon we boarded Noordam. It was like coming home. We remembered our boarding two years ago. Then, we had to explore the ship to get to know all the restaurants, bars, lounges, etc. No need this time, everything felt familiar again.
Every day and every evening there is an array of activities for all tastes. Some guests choose to participate in team trivia or Culinary Arts Center cooking demonstrations, while others take advantage of the complimentary Dancing with the Stars: at Sea dance classes or the Digital Workshops powered by Windows classes.
Rhodé has discovered Techspert Time. Techspert Krista teaches computer courses, but from time to time the classroom is open to work on your own projects. We use this for backing up our memory cards on an USB stick, just to reduce the chances of losing our photo’s. Rhodé uses the brand new Windows 8 computers to play games like cut-the-rope.
Every evening the ships transform from a relaxed day-time atmosphere to a dazzling evening environment. Lounges bustle with dancing and music, while the main show lounge features Vegas-style performances. Joost and his family took full advantage of the offerings around the ship, from dancing to karaoke.
When it was time to go to the karaoke, we saw Kim and her friends at the Queens Lounge. Rhodé had enlisted to perform ‘Rolling in the Deep’ from Adele. Quite some courage for a 9-year-old whose native language is Dutch. Kim and her friends Nica and Rachel joined in and together they rocked. Afterwards Kim, Nica and Rachel sang ‘Move like Jagger’ and Rhodé helped them with that song. Really great to see the kids have fun.
That evening we danced in the Ocean Bar to the tunes of the HAL Cats. Nice music, very danceable. After dancing we checked out the Piano Bar. The pianoman was Stryker. Wow, that man can play … and he sang really great. He is there every night, so we will definitely return to the Piano Bar later on in the cruise.
The girls took advantage of the Club HAL program. Children ages 3-7 can participate in such activities as pirate treasure hunts, hands-on pizza making, storytelling, “Little Artists” crafts, ice cream sundae parties and a farewell pajama party. Tweens ages 8-12, like Rhodé, take part in Xbox and Wii tournaments, relay races, scavenger hunts, karaoke disco parties and participate in the award-winning National Park Service Jr. Ranger Program in Alaska on Alaska cruises. Teens ages 13-17, like Kim, enjoy mocktail mixology classes, late night sporting competitions, teen yoga and hip hop classes, guys verses girls scavenger hunts, cooking demos, tech classes and teen only night club events. At the beginning of the cruise, during the overnight at Barcelona, Kim and Rhodé took a look at the program.
After dinner the kids went up to Club HAL. Both the Tweens and The Loft had a welcome party to get to know the other kids. Because we have an overnight in Barcelona, a lot of guests will still be ashore. But they did meet other kids and made friends.
Experiencing the many offerings onboard is an adventure, but going ashore in the different ports opens up a whole new world. While many guests opt to take a shore excursion organized by the ship, some guests go explore on their own.
We left the ship at 10 am in Palma de Mallorca. We decided to take the hop-on-hop-off bus. Usually we are more into public buses or taxis and we avoid the double-decker bus. This time the hop-on-hop-off bus had some advantages. It was the only public bus that went up to Castell de Bellver. Since we didn’t know if there were taxi’s available at the Castell, the bus was a good alternative.
Here are more of Joost’s beautiful snapshots from ports along the way.
To read more about Joost’s travels, visit his blog: http://cruisemed.blogspot.nl
Holland America Line has a wide array of enriching activities onboard, and among the most popular are the Digital Workshops powered by Windows. The popular complimentary workshops, led by Microsoft-trained “techsperts” on all 15 ships in the fleet, teach guests with varying levels of computer and camera experience how to take better vacation photos, make movies, edit pictures and create online scrapbooks.
Guests also learn how to share digital memories via email, keep a more secure PC at home, stay connected through instant messaging and webcams, find the best PC for their budget and lifestyle, and navigate new features of Windows 8. And if you can’t make it to the class, the techsperts blog about their lessons so anyone can learn more about their PC. Special thanks to Amsterdam’s techspert John Roberts who posted this on Hal’s Digital Workshop blog.
Remember when you were a kid and you cut out pictures and glued them onto paper or cardboard to make a collage? Well, now you can get your inner-child going with an exciting digital update to your classic collage project of yesteryear.
Put away the Elmer’s glue and check out the feature called “Auto Collage” in the latest version of Photo Gallery from Microsoft.
Special thanks to Veendam’s techspert Aiden who posted this on Hal’s Digital Workshop blog.
Hello again, this is Aiden the Techspert checking in from Northeast Canada.
Your Windows 8 machine comes preloaded with some great apps like Mail, Calendar, SkyDrive and Maps. Once you get familiar with these there are a few must-have apps. There are over 70,000 apps available today. So how do you find the bests ones? Start with these:
Special thanks to Zuiderdam’s Techspert Mollie who posted this on the Microsoft Blog.
This is Techspert Mollie here blogging from the ms Zuiderdam!
Since I have arrived on the Zuiderdam, I have been getting quite a few questions about battery issues with digital cameras. Therefore, I thought I would dedicate this blog to all of those camera owners out there that seem to run down their batteries before their Shore Excursions even begin! So here are some tips to prolonging your battery life so that you do not miss an opportunity to capture a picture!
Tip #1 KEEP LCD USE TO A MINIMUM
The most battery life is used when your screen in turned on. Every time you open up your camera to review or delete pictures, or even navigate through your settings/menu, you are using up power. Try to avoid doing this when you are away from your charger or if you forgot spare batteries.
Greetings from the Eurodam, currently sailing in the Eastern Caribbean! Due to an exclusive partnership with Microsoft, for the next few weeks HAL ships are the only places on the high seas where cruisers can experience a Windows 7 launch party so here’s a sneak peek.
The Windows 7 launch parties on Holland America are private events in the Crows Nest, where guests enjoy champagne, get free prizes and gifts, and test drive Windows 7 for themselves with the help of their on-board techspert, your very own personal tour guide to the digital world.
Holland America and Microsoft are exclusive partners on the Digital Workshop, powered by Windows – where cruisers can experience fun, free classes on photo editing, moviemaking,creating web pages and blogs and other ways of sharing cruise memories all year round. All Digital Workshops now feature computers running Windows 7 with free hands-on workshops for guests, the only partnership of its kind in the cruise industry.
Kelly Anderson is a guest blogger from Microsoft