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  1. #46

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    The Hard Sell

    I was quite put off by the Hard Sell at the spa and throughout the ship. Though I think this is typical of the Curies industry. Thankfully it doesnít carry over from DCL to WDW.

    The push to purchase future cruises was harder than many timeshare pitches Iíve witnessed. And speaking of timeshare, even DVC pitches are harder at sea than on land. They are taking full advantage of the captive audiences.

    The other hard sell that I found off putting was the Personal Shopper. On the surface it appears like she is trying to offer you a valuable service, but its easy to see through her sepal, and that she is desperate for the commissions that can only be generated if she gets you into some of the unscrupulous shops in Nassau.

    At least DCL wasnít pushing art, gold by the foot, cheep jewelry, or liquor from it on-board stores. The downside is there were no free tasting parities.

  2. #47

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    Re: Critique of my first DCL Experience

    Not exactly a “Hard Sell” but I was equally off-put by the Cruise Directors push for recognition for the crew at ever opportunity. Granted those people do work hard and deserve recognition, but at the same time I’m on vacation and expect these things to happen magically behind the scenes.

    When I go to the Hoop Dee Doo Review or Spirit of Aloha shows at WDW, I don’t ever endure a speech from the Emcee quilting me into feeling obligated to my servers and housekeepers, so why do they feel the need to do this at sea?

    The above is compounded by the fact that everyone from the Cruise Director to your room attendant to the head waiter, to the main dining room server, to the assistant server all approach you and beg you to fill out and turn in the survey cards. And how an excellent rating would be greatly appreciated.

    When I am asked in advance to complete a survey and you campaign for excellent rankings, I feel compelled to do the opposite. The reaction to the survey campaign is the number one reason this trip report has been so critical. I think otherwise I would have come off the boat fat (not as fat as if they would have had good bacon) and happy, and not felt compelled to report much of anything.

    This is another place where DCL is different than Anaheim/Orlando. After every WDW or DLR resort hotel (including DVC) trip I received an e-mail with a link to a survey. The nice thing about the survey is they often given you opportunities to expand upon your ratings in your own words, and not simply rely on a rating of 1-5. DCL should also send out their surveys via e-mail following the curies. Though I suspect they would receiver fewer respondents.

  3. #48

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    The apparent use of Sub-Contractors

    We addressed it with the briefly above during the discussion about the Photographers and the Spa, however I wanted to elaborate on the apparent use of Sub-Contractors on the ship.

    We all know that more and more position at DLR and WDW are being subcontracted. And even though we insiders know these positions are sub-contracted, its not that apparent to the general public. However it is apparent on the ships. The thing that makes it the most apparent is the use of different name tags. DCL employees have name tags with the DCL logo on it. Whereas the subcontractors have plain red and whit name tags w/o any logo on them.

    As soon as you recognize the different logo, you recognize the vast number of sub-contractors on the ship. And when encountering the red name tags we immediately expected less that suburb customer service. Maybe thatís the reason they identify them so prominently.

  4. #49

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    Cursing with Kids

    While I may have been critical above, I want to say that DCL is superior in many ways to what Iíve experienced with RCCL. However given the choice right here and now between a kids free booze cruise on the Carnival Triumph (the ship that was stranded in the gulf w/o toilets and power), or a family tip on DCL Iíd lean towards the kids free trip.

    Then again, if money was no object, Iíd opt for the kids free booze cruise with friends on a DCL ship. I thought the lack of a casino onboard would be an issue for me, but it wasnít. Even w/o the kids, I think there would be more than enough to do, to not miss the casino. I however, have to shoot a few rounds of craps at Atlantis during the Nassau day.

    Iím still not sold on the idea of cruising with kids. Itís expensive. You pay almost full price for the kids as compared to adults. And there isnít much savings for shoving four people into a cabin. There are much more affordable family vacations. WDW or DRL for two.

    For me Cruises are opportunities to party or relax, and having kids in tow kind of kills that.

    Even though this is a Disney Cruise there are a lot of Adult only activities. However a lot of the activities are at night so if you have little ones that go to bed early you are stuck in the room with them for the rest of the night. For that matter a lot of the cool family activities are at night, so if you have little ones that go to bed early you are stuck in the room with them for the rest of the night and miss out on some great activities. We tried to force naps so that they could stay up late, but that never happened. So inevitably we spent time dealing with tired cranky kids then we would have liked to. Perhaps it will be better when the kids are a little older.

    And as I said before, if you have kids under the age of 11, let them spend as much time in the kids club as they want. If they want let them skip dinner, let them skip the shows.

  5. #50

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    Magic Bands Beta Testing

    It appears the first Magic Bands were beta tested on the DCL. Not really, but sort of. When you drop your kids off at the Kids Club, they attach a tamper proof wristbands with RFID tag on each child. That way they know who comes, goes, and when. And like the Magic Band, if you lose it, they charge you a $50 fee.

    At WDW and DLR they always give us KTTW cards for the kids when we check-in. Since they are not valid for charging and the kids never leaver on their own, they have no use for the keys. Since the keys have no real purpose or value, they are often tossed aside and sometimes lost.

    Out of habit the same almost happened with the kids KTTW cards on the ship. Till we realized we needed them to get the kids off the ship at Castaway Cay and later at Port Canaveral. Than began the frantic rush to find the key cards and make sure we keep track of them.

    Almost losing the kids cards got me thinking about the Magic Band program at WDW and the id program at the Kids club. Instead of issuing the kids a KTTW Card and a kids club bracelet, why not issue a device that we could attach to the kids that worked for identifying the passenger embarking and disembarking the ship, room entry, charging (if allowed), photo pass identification, and kids club locator? And make it more comfortable than the current kids club identifier.

    DS8 had a bruise on his wrist where the RFID tag was rubbing against his hand/wrist. They eventually moved it to his ankle. So they need to work on their ergonomics.

  6. #51

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    Operations and Logistics

    I find any operation of this magnitude fascinating. I just couldnít help but wonder how they made this magic happen day in and day out. Doing it in a major metropolitan area like Anaheim or Orlando is one thing, but doing it while isolated at sea, that add a whole new dynamic.

    Form a management standpoint, how do you direct 1,458 employees from such a diverse geographical and ethnic background? They are obviously are not all English speakers, how do you communicate with everyone?

    From an employee standpoint, can you imagine living and working on a ship seven days a week for 6 to 8 months at a time? If you are lucky you might get an hour or two away from the ship in Nassau or Port Canaveral. To some extent it must be like a prison.

    I keep thinking about the character entertainers. I have friends that work the Zoo Crew in Orlando, so I better be careful what I say. Character Entertainers in Orlando have a tendency to burn out quickly and can get surely from time to time. And these are employees that never work on stage more than 20 minutes, go home to their own bed (or some other bed of their choosing) every night, and get two day a week off. Contract that with the character entertainers on the ship who are on stage well more than 20 minutes*, and donít get to go home at night. And for some reason these entertainers appeared to enjoy their jobs more.

    I saw Cinderella spend an hour interacting with children in the kids club, and than head straight the the grand Lobby for a Princess meet and greet that lasted well over an hour. That would never happen in Orlando.

    I also started feeling bad for the DVC guide. They make light of the situation, often stating that get to spend time on the cruise as part of their job. But they are not on the cruise with us. They are working. They are definitely not sleeping in the Deluxe Stateroom with Veranda. And when they arenít giving a presentation or sitting one on one with a perspective sucker, you bet they are doing something work related. Its not all pools and buffets for anyone that works on a cruise ship.

    Than I learned about the people that live and work on Castaway Cay. There are about 100 employees all on 1 year contracts that live and work on Castaway Cay. They work 6 days a week and on their day off they are shuttled to Nassau or Freeport. Many get busted for drug use and donít make it to the end of their one year contract, making this one of the positions with the highest turnover and one of the most difficult to recruit for.

  7. #52

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    Re: Critique of my first DCL Experience

    My husband and I have cruised on the Magic and on the Wonder, and I'm with you on the gratuity thing. It's a little strange. They seem to have upped the hard-sell thing; I've had a massage at the spa, and didn't get anything like that. Wasn't the best massage I've had, but it was ok. They're subcontractors, and apparently only mid-level.

    It's true that there's a regulation about the ship shops being closed when they're in port. I haven't gotten a good history on why, but it's consistent.

    I wonder if the food was bad due to a new crew on the Dream? Our last cruise out of Port Canaveral was when the Dream just came online, and there was a *lot* of new crew, presumably on all three ships, and the service showed it.

    I'm glad you enjoyed your cruise, and I hope your next one is better. Oh, and the Magic and the Wonder have boards to display the pictures they take. It's in the photo shop.
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