Our family sailed on the Veendam in 2003 and LOVED it!!! Our son was six at the time and was well behaved and able to sit through the meals. On our sailing there were only 12 children during the cruise and at that time the children's club was limited, but I have read that Holland America has made improvements and additions to the club.
The staff made our son feel extra special, everyone greeted him warmly all around the ship and they seemed genuinely interested in his experience. Any time he was in the kids club and my husband and I were alone, the staff would ask where's Jackson? It seemed as is every staff member knew his name by the end of the first day. I was impressed!
We sailed on RCCL, Freedom of the Seas, last year and the boys liked the kids club on this ship and the staff was very good, but our kids were just two of 100's they see every week.
The mostly older passengers were accepting of our young son, many of them are loving grandparents after all, but our son was always well behaved and not disrupting to other guests. Our younger son is not as well behaved and is not able to sit through meals yet and I think that would not be well received by other passengers.
On the first night of the cruise, while we were waiting for our late supper seating, I took Jackson to one of the piano bars and we danced together to 40's music, the older onlookers loved it!!
Some of the kids clubs on these ships have such long hours I am surprised that some parents even see their kids during the week. My husband and I enjoy the "experience" of being on vacation with our children and this cruise was one of the best times of our lives.
For someone who has traved on Holland America with children I think your family will have a fantastic time. I think the family editor on cruisemates has traved on HAL with her children and has good insite, you might want to look up her articles. ENJOY!!!