Why a Holland America cruise was the perfect multigenerational vacation for my family

Cruise vacations have always been an attractive choice for multigenerational family vacations. A hassle-free way to explore the world, family cruises balance together-time with opportunities for everyone in the family to pursue their own interests too. And thanks to all-inclusive cruise pricing, there’s no sticker shock when it’s time to settle the bill.

That said, not all cruise lines are equal when it comes to handling the needs (and entertainment) of multiple generations on a single cruise ship. So when my family recently embarked on a five-day Holland America cruise aboard the MS Rotterdam, I took it as an opportunity to evaluate the cruise line's offerings specifically as it relates to multigenerational cruising.

SCENIC VOYAGES: Everything you need to know about river cruises in the USA

Transporting us from Rotterdam to Oslo and Copenhagen before we disembarked in Amsterdam, the MS Rotterdam was like a proverbial floating hotel. (Unpacking only once was the cherry on top.) Not only was this Holland America cruise within our budget, it was included in the line's ongoing kids sail free cruise deal that lets children ages five to 18 sail in the same stateroom as two adults for free. But even setting aside its budget-friendly price, I came away convinced that a Holland America cruise is a perfect fit for a multigenerational cruise vacation. Here are eight reasons why.

1. Holland America's history

These days, Holland America (HAL) is a leisure cruise line, but back when it launched, HAL was primarily a carrier of immigrants from Europe to the U.S. From 1873 until well after the turn of the century, it brought nearly 2 million immigrants to North America. This legacy resonates with millions of Americans, including myself. My grandfather made the journey from Rotterdam to Ellis Island aboard a Holland America ship. Immigrants came from across Europe to depart from the city’s large port.

As soon as my family arrived in Rotterdam, I made a beeline for the Hotel New York. The hotel was originally Holland America’s headquarters, and I got a thrill knowing that my grandfather had been in the exact same building in 1913 at age 14 preparing for his solo journey and new life in America.

Read next:

2. Spacious staterooms

Holland America has roomy staterooms with a foldout couch that can accommodate up to five guests. Beds have a very supportive mattress, a gift for my middle-age back. Complimentary travel cribs may be requested in advance if your multigenerational cruise includes a baby on board. And if a member of your family group has mobility issues, there are accessible rooms along with elevators and ramps throughout the ship.

Holland America Line's Rotterdam ship.
Holland America Line's Rotterdam ship.

3. Low-key entertainment

If you’re craving high-adrenaline action like zip lines, go-karts, or giant cruise ship water parks, Holland America's cruises are probably not a fit. Your time onboard will be focused more on slower-paced activities to strengthen family bonds.

Entertainment is low-key, with ping-pong, board games, jigsaw puzzles and Sjoelen (a Dutch version of shuffleboard) being popular pastimes. A nightly family-friendly outdoor movie screened under the stars (complete with blankets and freshly popped popcorn) was a hit with our group.

GO ALL IN: These 6 cruise lines offer the best themed cruises

4. Supervised kids programs

For passengers ages 3 to 17, Club HAL is a supervised program with a dedicated space for each age group. The club is staffed with professionals trained to work with a variety of learning styles. Kids can try their hand at arts and crafts, video game competitions, scavenger hunts, and more. Themed parties in the evening free adults to listen to top-notch live musical performances at the Music Walk.

RELATED: Are kids’ clubs safe? How to spot trouble on a cruise ship or resort

5. Pickleball

Holland America may be a historic cruise line, but it knows how to embrace a new trend when it sees one. That's why all Holland America ships have pickleball courts. This racquet sport is easy to learn, which may explain why it’s the fastest-growing sport in America. If you’re curious to give it a try, there are even tutorial videos on your stateroom TV.

6. Fancy or informal (take your pick)

Cruises on a Holland America ship are as swanky as you want them to be; service is always gracious, though never stuffy. If you’d like to dress up for dinner, go ahead. If you prefer to eat a burger in your bathing suit by the pool, no problem!

7. Finicky eaters are welcome

Holland America tempts little palates with kid favorites like macaroni and cheese and half-portions. If you want to try one of the specialty dining venues that incur an extra fee, kids 12 and under eat for half-price.

My family found ourselves gravitating towards the ship’s casual eateries, chowing down on Nathan’s hot dogs, burgers and fries at the poolside Dive-In, and cheesy slices at New York Deli and Pizza. Highchairs and booster seats are available.

MEAL PREP: A parent’s guide to traveling with food allergies: How to plan, pack, and enjoy your vacation

8. Shore excursions

On my family's Holland America cruise, the MS Rotterdam visited Rotterdam, Oslo, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam in five days, ferrying us to a new destination each morning. There were dozens of shore excursions to choose from at each port, including some offering discounts for youngsters.

Our favorite excursions were the inexpensive hop-on, hop-off double-decker buses, allowing us the freedom to get off when and where we wanted to. Of course, if some members of your group want to remain onboard and enjoy the ship at its uncrowded best, that’s a fine option as well.

Why a Holland America heritage cruise was the perfect multigenerational vacation for my family originally appeared on FamilyVacationist.com.

More from FamilyVacationist:

The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY. FamilyVacationist.com and TourScoop.com are owned and operated by Vacationist Media LLC. Using the FamilyVacationist travel recommendation methodology, we review and select family vacation ideas, family vacation spots, all-inclusive family resorts, and classic family vacations for all ages. TourScoop covers guided group tours and tour operators, tour operator reviews, tour itinerary reviews and travel gear recommendations.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: This cruise line was the perfect multigenerational trip for my family