Cruising with an Infant – Holland America Cruise in Canada and New England

Cruising with infant. Holland America

Cruising with an Infant – Holland America Cruise in Canada and New England



Cruising with infant. Holland America
Cruising with infant. Holland America

Holland America Cruise in Canada and New England

Cruising with an infant – Holland America Cruise in Canada and New England On MS Veendam


Superior Verandah Suite
Superior Verandah Suite
Holland America Line

M/S Veendam is a medium sized ship weighing about 58,000 tons.
The trend these days is for larger, ( and even larger) ships. Think 5000 passenger with amenities and entertainment options which rival, even exceed 5 star resorts. ( Don\’t be surprised to find, surf simulators, multi deck water slides and Broadway adaptions).
If a “large”ship experience is what you are looking for, then this ship is not for you. Holland America celebrates the original sea faring traditions with a classic cruising experience. Think large very comfortable rooms (even for base category, interior rooms), fine dining, and exceptional service. It’s not that the newer bells and whistles are not there. We enjoyed the evening entertainment, the casino and the kids play areas. The organised activities are varied, from wine tasting, lobster cooking classes, poker competitions, cup cake and tea ceremonies. They however do not “define” the ship and you will get better elsewhere.

Dining on M/s Veendam:

Holland America Dining
Holland America Dining

The food is very good and they take a lot of effort to vary it. For all the 3 meals, you have the option of a proper sit down course or buffet. For an extra charge you can eat at the Italian restaurant (Canaletto, USD 10) or the steakhouse ( Pinnacle Grill, USD 23). Once in the sailing you have option to have food at the Le cirque restraurant, the award winning New York restaurant. (USD 43). We thought of having a meal here. However menu looked uninspiring and didn’t motivate us to loosen the wallet!
The best buffet option was the breakfast buffet, having multiple live counters including a egg florentine section and waffle counters. I have always maintained that the best indicator a ship’s food standard is the omelette counter (it was excellent!). A good breakfast buffet will have small things like separate counter for fried eggs and omelettes. (this ship had it) I found the lunch and dinner buffet to above average and nothing exceptional. This included the burger and pizza counters. They did however take care to vary the menu. Additionally you had speciality nights, where they focussed on dishes from various countries. The real variation came in the late night Snack Counters where you had a new country’s cuisines (Chinese,Thai , Californian, French, German and so on) everyday. The options were Interesting, the food though wasn’t brilliant at these late night counters.
The sit down dinners were however excellent! It was comparable if not better than an expensive New York restaurant. Consisting of a four course meal, you had to pick items from a menu card. The options were varied and interesting. Surprisingly the vegetarian options were more than adequate. This is not a ship where a vegetarian will go hungry!
Options for Kids
My focus was on my 3 year old kid and I had heard horror stories about Holland America being unfriendly towards children. I had also heard that nearly everybody who travels HAL is above 70 years! The cruise gave me a positive surprise. Make no mistake Holland America and M/S Veendam is not by any measure the pinnacle of kids entertainment on the high sea.The kids club was however well stocked with excellent educators. My 3 year old was engaged, with activities like cake making, pyjama parties, story book reading. The downside was there not enough age segration. ( same educators and activity for 3-7 years). My 3 year old did feel a left out in a sea of 5 and 6 year olds. There were about 20 younger kids ( infant to 7) and 20 more older children on this sailing

The other standout are the excellent staff who was very friendly and made a special effort to “bond” with my infant. Service on this ship was a standout and actually flawless ( and I am comparing with expensive 5 star hotels). 10 out of 10

We took the Canada and New England cruise starting from Vancouver. The ports were Vancouver, Quebec, Halifax, Prince Edward Island, Sydney ( Nova Scotia), Bar Harbour ( Maine) and Boston. We found the itinerary excellent as it allowed us to do locations which are difficult to do my land. Also most of the places were one day itineraries, so you didn’t feel that you have “missed” anything. The Eastern part of the Canada is extremely interesting due to its French culture, both in terms of Architectural influences, language, food and the general vibe. In additional locations like prince Edward island and Halifax gave an excellent idea about Atlantic Coast island and Ports.

a) The most delicious lobster you can taste and a price which is 1/10 of that in a big city restaurant
b) Quebec. You would be hard pressed to believe that this was a place in Nort America and not a coastal town in place. Wonderful vibe and 95% of the population speak only French
c) Bar Harbour : One of the cutest fishing towns / villages you will ever go to. The Arcadia national park is a highlight
d) Montreal and Quebec : Beautiful small cities. Cosmopolitan, relaxed and picture perfect.

So should you do this cruise?
Yes, especially if you want to want to see Canada and New England in a non complicated way

Should you do this cruise with your kids?
The answer is yes and a no. The experience will be adequate. However given the limited nature of Kids activities and Kid centric facilities, you will find better

NCL Epic – 5 reasons why NCL Epic is a must do!

5 Reasons NCL EPIC is a must do! – Cruise Review of NCL EPIC


NCL Epic Upper Deck

                                                  NCL Epic Upper Deck

NCL EPIC is a 155,000-ton mega ship with a 4,100-passenger berth capacity. This behemoth represents more a Floating resort than a Normal Cruise Liner! Examples of its unique and innovative features  include the only tube and bowl water park at sea, a rappelling wall and two three-lane bowling alleys.

Here are 5 reasons; you should travel the Norwegian Epic JUST for the ship experience

1) Mind-blowing Entertainment –

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

NCL epic has a real “nightlife “ buzz and you feel a tingle of excitement as you walk the length of ship in the evening. The entertainment ranges from the Beatle inspired “Caverns” Nightclub, which has live rock and roll everyday, to the only ÏCE bar” on the seas.
Then there is the Sprawling Epic Casino, which stretches full-length across deck 6. Even if you don’t gamble, it will add a shimmer to your evening. Casino activities includes a daily poker tournament apart from countless slots and table games
The classical Entertainment on the ship is best of its class on the seas, with TWO great new shows, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Burn the Floor.
The Broadway show “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”, based on the Oscar-winning movie, is a dazzling production with fabulous costumes and ever-changing background sets. It also has a hit parade of toe-tapping dance floor favorites including “It’s Raining Men”, “I Will Survive”, and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.
To top it up you have the Siegel tent, which hosts (Paid, $29.95 cover including dinner) the world famous Cirque, acrobatics show
The upper pool deck, hosts at least one mega party per sailing. With the Giant screen and world class DJ’s (who even started played Indian Bhangra, when he saw Indians on the dance floor), it is an experience right out of IBIZA. The regular Discotheque is also impressive and active till very late every evening

Epic also has TWO 3 lane bowling alley!

Entertainment Rating : 4.5/5


2) Perfect for Kids and Teenagers

NCL Epic - Squash Court

NCL Epic – Squash Court

 NCL Epic (and the NCL brand in general) is THE brand to go for if you have children (of all ages and sizes). Not only will your children have the time of their lives, they will also be exposed to children of many different nationalities. Fun apart this would be a great cross-cultural experience for them
From a detailing perspective, Epic’s signature Kids programme is the Splash academy. The Splash Academy divides youngsters into four age groups: Guppies (6 months to 3 years), Turtles (3 to 5), Seals (6 to 9) and Dolphins (10 to 12). Guppies have a separate colorful playroom open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. that’s situated forward on Deck 5. For teenagers, you have the Entourage programme
The Splash Academy and Entourage feature a different theme every day, such as pirates, space cowboys, jungle fever or circus. Specific emphasis is placed on active offerings, including soccer and physical challenges, through a partnership with the King’s Foundation and Camps, a U.K.-based organization The is a even a (USD 6/ hour), paid late night group baby sitting service.
For teens, bowling tournaments, soccer challenges and dodge ball under the stars are just a few of the offerings. Other typical activities might include trivia quizzes, cake-eating challenges and video games, along with an Olympics for older children and face painting, puzzles and a treasure hunt for the little ones. The teenagers even a small discotheque of their own!

Kids Rating : 5/5

 3) Great Itinerary!


Barcelona Port

Barcelona Port

Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo

 NCL epic in the summer months follows the classical Western Mediterranean itinerary
The ports include, Barcelona, Cannes, Provence (Marseilles), Florence, Rome, and Naples (Amalfi Coast).
Covering nearly all the popular Mediterranean Ports, it provides a great mix of locations over small number of days. The cruise ships typically reaches the Port in the morning and leave in the evening, allowing time for either traditional sightseeing for the first time traveller (ex: Full day Rome sightseeing) or allowing the repeat traveller to engage in a variety of interesting day trips. For instance from Florence ( Livorno), we visited a traditional Italian vineyard village, Monticello, while others visited the Cinque Terre, a grouping of Five Villages set on cliffs on the Italian Riveria

 Itinerary Rating – 4/5

4) Great for Large Groups and Families!

Cruises are Great for Large groups and Families. This is true for most cruise sailings, but particularly accurate for NCL Epic with its large set of diverse offering. People of many different age groups will find something, which suits them. These range from water parks for Kids, to the largest spa and fitness center in the sea for Adults, to a variety of easy paced activities (wine tasting, art auctions, Bingo etc) for senior’s citizens. For senior citizens, the free style, do at your own pace, cruise concept is a great boon. They can do things at their own pace while spending quality time with the families. In addition, the cruise format allows them to pick and choose, which days they want to do sightseeing activities or just relax on the ship.

 Group Rating – 4.5/5

5) Dining

NCL Epic - Teppanyaki Restaurant

NCL Epic – Teppanyaki Restaurant

 NCL pioneering the free style dining concept and the ship has plenty of Free and Paid options to keep the fussiest of diners busy! The Free options include the all you eat buffets (Garden Café) which has different daily offerings and plenty of live counters. The buffets also focus on a different county’s cuisine everyday (Californian, Mediterranean, Chinese, Indian etc). The buffet has a separate Indian food section
The other free restaurants include, the Chinese restaurants (Shanghai and Noodle bar), A Classic Bar and Grill (O’Sheehan) and Two proper sit-down 4 course restaurants ( Taste and Manhattan)
There are also multiple varied and interesting paid options. These include:
Le Bistro – French ($19.95 per person) –
Cagney’s – Steakhouse (a la carte. Average cost of steak $25-30).
Moderno Churrascaria ($19.95 per person)
Teppanyaki ($29.95 per person)
Yakitori & Sushi (Deck 7); a la carte

 Dining Rating – 4/5

All in all NCL Epic is amongst the best options you have on the sea, especially if you travelling with children or family groups. If you book in advance, there are plenty of deals on offers and BALCONY cabins can be had for as low as USD 800 per person