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What's the cruising experience like for teenagers onboard Holland America Line?

20 March 2017


Sasha Narraway was only five years old the first time she went on a cruise, remembering only snippets. Speaking of her first cruise as a teenager, Sasha vividly describes her fun-packed experience where she relished everything Holland America Line had to offer for teenagers cruising onboard MS Nieuw Amsterdam.

I was really looking forward to cruising, especially the restaurants, shows and fun of the Club HAL teen club!  We sailed from Venice on a 12 Nt Mediterranean Empires cruise on Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam.  The cruise started with an overnight onboard, so we had a full day to walk around the stunning city of Venice. The weather was amazing and I loved the orchestras in St Mark’s Square.  The buildings were picturesque and we took lots of photos.  We also bought some beautiful Venetian masks for the masquerade ball on the ship a couple of days later. I stood right at the bow of the ship as we sailed down the Grand Canal with Tom, our “On Location” guide, telling us all about the history of Venice.

Some days were spent just swimming and sunbathing, others exploring ancient sites like Ephesus and the Acropolis or cities like Istanbul.  My favourite place on the ship was the Cabana Club, where we had our own private cabana. Accommpanied with a butler service, we would be transported to a world of relaxation with refreshing lemonade, chocolate covered strawberries and a whole fruit platter delivered to us by smiling waiters.  I also loved Club HAL, which was the perfect place for younger guests onboard to hang out as well as The Loft.

Left: The Loft, Right: Club HAL

Most days, once I’d had too much sun or if the Cabanas were closing, I’d run to the amazing, almost private, cinema downstairs. There was free popcorn, huge comfortable chairs, plenty of leg room and all the latest films that hadn’t yet come out in England! I also loved the big shows in the main theatre. What more could a budding 13-year-old actress want?

Most evenings we ate in the main restaurant as we loved the atmosphere and the smiley waiters but on Mummy’s birthday we ate in the Pinnacle Grill and had amazing steaks and a birthday cake.  The Asian restaurant (Tamarind) was my favourite; we used chopsticks and I loved the smell of the Thai spices.  We also went to Canaletto, the Italian restaurant, one night.  I managed to wear all 12 dresses I had taken with me! One day Mica (my brother) and I did a cooking class in the Culinary Arts theatre.  We had great fun making pancakes and adding different toppings to them. On our last night we went to the Show Lounge to watch ‘Dancing with the Stars’ which was like Strictly Come Dancing. They even had Len and Bruno on a video screen.

Left: Tamarind, Right: Pinnacle Grill

If I had to pick a few of my favourite places on the cruise they would be Venice, Santorini and Cephalonia. I didn’t really know what to expect in Istanbul, but the beautiful skyline of mosques and bridges were so pretty that I didn’t know where I was. This holiday had something for all of us and is one I will never forget - I doubt my friends will forget it either because I’ve bored them with it many times. I found all of the crew onboard to be fantastic. They all had lovely smiles on their faces and they always worked so hard, nothing was too much trouble. It was so good not having to make my bed or set the table everyday - I think Mummy thought so too! I can’t wait for my next Holland America Line Cruise!

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