To Disney Cruise Or Not, Ultimate Orlando Challenge, More... Discuss it all here!
To Disney Cruise Or Not, Ultimate Orlando Challenge, More... Discuss it all here!
I love DCL and disagree with many of the comments made by Kevin. Although he certainly did not feel the trip was worth the money, some of his information is just wrong.
First, the Disney Wonder does not go to the Eastern Caribbean. Disney has two ships, the Magic and the Wonder. The Magic sails on seven (7) night cruises alternating between an Eastern and Western Caribbean itinerary. The Disney Wonder sails on three (3) and four (4) night cruises to the Bahamas. Each cruise makes a stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.
I am shocked that Kevin says that the pre-cruise information is inadequate, and yet every bit of information published by Disney clearly spells out the above itinerary for the ships. This sounds more like a case of Kevin not reading everything. Kevin is a guy who sells quasi-guidebooks to the parks (information not usually published by Disney) and yet he did not elect to buy a guidebook for this wildly expensive cruise?
Just for the asking, Disney will fill your mailbox with free guidebooks, travel brochures and a DVD. No other cruise line comes close to offering this information.
Second, just as Kevin argues that the dress code is not properly explained, neither is his explanation of a charge for "babysitting". Children under three may attend a nursery that comes with a per-hour charge. Programs for children 4-18 are FREE (or rather, included in the cost of the vacation).
My wife and I do not have children and continue to cruise on Disney simply because the children on board are always at the kids various labs and clubs. They love it, they never want to leave. Kevin's version of a family vacation may be everyone participating in every activity together, however, this is not a realistic vision. Kids love the programs and it gives the adults some much needed relaxation time. It is obvious by Kevin's view that he has a young child and not a teenager.
Third, upfront, Disney sells wine packages, water packages and spa treatments. Within hours of being on-board, the hard sell stops. Unlike other cruise lines (which Kevin ignores) the hard sell and frat-party atmosphere is non-stop. The Disney ships do not have casinos like every other cruise line and the merchandising is limited in nature compared to other ships.
Fourth, your dining rotation and table number is clearly printed on your "Key To The World Card" which is your room key, ID and charge card. On the first night of your cruise, you are given tickets indicating your first restaurant, servers names and table number. You are reminded by your servers each evening of the following nights dinner location. It could not be easier!
FYI, your Key To The World card also helps prevent employee theft by going to a cashless system. Although I have no doubt that it does increases spending as Kevin states, I rather enjoy not having to carry a wallet with me.
Fifth, almost everything sold on the ships is DCL branded. The most frequent complaint I hear is that too many items have the DCL logo. Castaway Cay items are only sold at Castaway Cay. Much like Club 33 at Disneyland, if you don't visit the island, you can't by the souvenir.
The rest of the article is Kevin's impressions and opinion. He is certainly not "wrong" for feeling the way he does, but as a first time cruiser, his view may not be 100% clear. Bottom line, cruising is expensive! Take a $500,000,000.00 boat and fill it with gas and make it move around for a full week to various countries (that costs money). Yes, Disney Cruise Line is more expensive than other cruise lines. Go on another aging ship and experience the 80's decor, rude staff, constant hard-sell on alcohol, gambling and merchandise and suddenly DCL is a welcome vacation.
Although I love Castaway Cay, not too many people want to spend a week or even three days there. I just returned from a cruise in June and with the humidity, 3 hours was more than enough on my little island paradise. Staying in one place is not "cruising" and there is no need for a half-billion dollar ship to take you there for a full week. I may love Pirates of the Caribbean but it does not mean a WDW vacation is going on the ride a 1000 times in a row. The joy in cruising is being on the move and seeing different places without switching "hotel rooms".
Kevin fails to mention how the ship compares in beauty and maintenance compared to other lines. He fails to mention the wonderful fireworks (the only cruise line to have them) and great deck parties. Kevin barely touches on the late-night buffets and other free entertainment.
In the end, all first time cruisers should try a shorter cruise (A 3 day or 4 night) and see how it works for them. If Disney or cruising in general is a good match, go for the seven (7) night cruise or try a different line to see how things compare.
The end result, DCL is not for everyone. The fact that the ships are always at capacity and that they do not frequently discount rates indicates that enough customers are pleased with the offerings to return again and again. For me it is the last remaining true Disney experience.
After reading your article today one thing stands out big time. YOU DID NOT DO YOU HOMEWORK BEFORE YOUR CRUISE!!!!!!
First you should learn about cruising and the traditions that go along with it (attire, food, ect.) Second, by doing a simple search on Disney Cruise on the internet, you would have found hundreds of sites and especially message boards about DCL. Yes you pay extra for a Disney cruise, because it is Disney. With all of the money you spent why did you not do your homework about this, especially if it was your first cruise?
All you had to do was go to www.disboards.com and you would have found almost 75,000 posts in the Disney Cruise Line Forum . You would have seen many posts about what to wear to the dinners, found out about all of the activities and most of all, you would have been prepared for the activities off of the ship too.
If it was your first trip to WDW wouldn't you check the internet first to learn about it before you went?
Sorry, Kevin, but I have to agree with wdwowner above. The problems you encountered with pricing and attire and the separation of your family are all very standard situations on cruise ships, especially the concept of a formal night on each cruise. When they say that formal attire is optional on formal night, it's well known that if you choose not to wear a tux you will at least be wearing a suit or jacket & tie. Maybe they could make it clearer in the brochure, but I don't see how you could reasonably assume that ship attire would be the same as park attire just because the ship is Disney. I'm also flatly amazed that once you discovered you faux pas you just didn't purchase a couple of golf shirts and a pair of dockers in one of the gift shops and go on with your vacation. To stay away and settle for fast food is simply knuckling under to your own insecurity, my friend, and you lost out big time because of it.
Also, I can't disagree more with your assertion that a ship, just because it's Disney, shouldn't be stopping at the regular Caribbean ports of call. Judging by your caption, you even seem to have a problem with the incredible view of the ocean under the beautiful Caribbean sun. Hey, Kevin - YOU'RE ON A CRUISE SHIP!!! You're going to be going through a lot of water. And you're going to stop at Caribbean ports. I don't see Disney doing a cruise that goes from Canaveral to Castaway Cay and then back again - you'd never be able to book enough people on it. A major part of the fun of a Caribbean cruise is the exotic ports of call, whether they're Disney or not. And you can't possibly expect that St. Thomas or Jamaica or any port is going to have the same atmosphere that Disney can provide, nor would I want it to be.
The one place where we completely agree is on the price of the cruise. Disney cruises are totally inflated way above other ships. But it's a matter of what the market will sustain. Their prices were high right off the bat. And if people didn't book up in droves, the prices would have been forced down. But they're consistently selling out, so they have no incentive to lower the price. I agree with you that a first time cruiser would be better served by another line.
I spent several months working as a musician on ships years back, and I count it as one of the highlights of my life. But it's a different lifestyle, with its own set of rules about conduct and attire. The company that I worked for made sure that we were all well educated on the standards before going on board. We even had cheap tuxes for formal night, so we fit right in! I've always held a special love for cruising, even though I don't cruise on a regular basis.
Reading your article was most interesting, and I'm truly sorry you had such troubles. If nothing else, your experience can serve as a cautionary tale about researching before a big event like this.
For the first time I too had to shake my head as I read your article. I really think most of your negative opinions came from the one bad experience that then clouded the rest of your view. Most of the things you complained about are what cruising is all about. If I want to go spend 3 days on one island I'll just go to a sandals resort or something like that. People don't go on cruises to ride a dark ride or a roller coaster (which I think would be illegal to put around the side of a ship). They go to enjoy the relaxation of just sitting in the sun, visiting various ports of call, etc...
I really think that if your first cruise had been aboard one of the other "cheaper" cruiseliners that your impression of what disney cruise lines has to offer would be bigger. Disney is by far better in the treatment, the entertainment, the choices, the cleanliness, and the relaxation than any other cruiseline offers. Most of your complaints were about what cruising really is about. I really think your complaint isn't so much with Disney but with cruising in general. It sounds like it's just not your cup of tea. You would probably enjoy an all inclusive resort like sandals a lot more than a Disney cruiseline or any cruiseline.
The only thing I agree with is the price. Disney cruiselines are by far THE most expensive cruises out there and as such I'll not be able to afford one anytime in the near future. However as Dan said, if the market can bear their price then they should be able to charge it. I'd think that if their cruise was really as bad as you made it out to be that there'd be no way that they constantly sell out their cruises at such high prices.
I'm sorry you had a bad experience. I just feel that you're being overly harsh here. You went on a cruise not really knowing what a cruise was really like and as it turned out, I think you just don't really like going on a cruise in general. That's fine, cruises aren't for everyone, but don't blame DCL for that.
It was a great article on the cruise line, and I agree with everyone else that you were a bit too harsh with it. The price for a Disney cruise is definitely way too high. How people are paying it, I don't know.
There are many cruise lines out there. Something for everyone and each one is different. I can't even think of seeing you on a Cunard ship. Cunard is formal every night! (It's not for me either.)
In your article, you asked why they couldn't distribute the Personal Navigators out for the whole week at the beginning. The reason is because the Navigators have updated information each day ... especially the weather conditions. Weather can also affect the daily activities. I've been on a few cruises that did not follow the scheduled itineraries because of stormy conditions. When ships need to alter their itineraries, more indoor activities are planned and ports of call might be skipped altogether. Also, many people take this activities sheet with them during the day to plan out their activities and have the information readily available. I don't want to be carrying a book around with me all day. In fact, Celebrity, another premium cruise line offers this information in a smaller separate section, which is very handy during the day.
The most important thing is that you enjoyed your cruise and you will know better for next time. It's off to the Tommy Bahama outlet for you!
I think my overall reaction (which is mixed, not negative) came out that way BECAUSE of the price. If you agree that the price is inflated, could you agree that premium pricing generates expectations of a picture-perfect experience?
Put this another way: I don't think I would have complained at all if the extra $2500 we spent resulted in those onboard photos being free, the video games and spa free, and so on. The point to premium pricing is that you pay more but should get more. Can we imagine a world where DCL charges more than other companies but GIVES you more than other cruise lines?
Which leads to my other main point of contention: I know that a lot of what I complained about is standard on other cruises. That's part of the problem. I would have hoped this would be more "Disney" and less "cruise." The same goes for supposedly not doing my homework. I did know that on other cruises people dress up. My expectation was that on Disney's boat that would be different, and the pre-cruise materials didn't really completely disabuse me of my wrong opinion. People don't dress up at Disney restaurants. In this respect, my familiarity with the parks worked against me.
I really think that common sense can be used in the dress code on the ship. The ship has some very fancy restaurants on board. Would you go to a fancy restaurant in town dressed in jeans and a t-shirt? I know I would feel funny just walking into a nice restaurant, even if everyone is dressed in jeans in a t-shirt, if I wasnt dressed nicely. The dress code isn't some kind of evil mandate by Disney. It helps create atmosphere. I can guarantee you would think differently of the restaurants if you saw everyone in there in shorts and a t-shirt vs if everyone is dressed up.
Additionally, regarding formal nights, they are expected when you go on a cruise. It is part of the romance of going on a cruise. There are cruise ships that run special casual cruises, but they specifically state that it is a casual cruise. Most people book cruises, even Disney cruises, for that romance and ambiance, even if the kids are in tow. It's also why the kids and adults activities are more split on the ships vs the parks. The adults want to experience that ambiance. The kids want to go play in the pools and do arts and crafts and what have you.
Regarding the ads on the itineraries, it is something that is common in the cruising industry. Now, the cruise line does get a huge cut from these companies that advertise in their brochures, but they also provide one heck of a service. Many of the islands you are stopping on are foriegn countries. They have their own laws and own ways of doing things. Many countries do not have the consumer protection laws that are enjoyed in the U.S. Because of this, the cruise lines monitor the companies that advertise with them. If they get complaints from their cruisers, they pull their ads and those companies lose a ton of money in lost sales. Many ships will also offer some amount of consumer protection if you shop in one of the "preferred stores". Yeah, it seems comercialistic, but at least it isnt as bad as some cruise lines where they push jewelry, perfume, and booze at you at every turn. I know on my last Carnival Cruise I was ready to go on a shooting rampage if they mentioned Diamonds International one more time.
You seem like a guy that does a lot of research in the parks. A little more research beforehand on this cruise would have served you a lot better and you might have had a better time. I do agree with the prices. They are very steep and they are selling cabins on the Disney name alone. The reason they charge you for everything else is because they can. The people who buy into the Disney cruises are already paying a premium, so they are getting the wealthier people on board. Yeah, it sucks for guys like me who don't make 500K a year, but it is those folks they are marketing to, primarily.
Forgot to include this in my last post. Such research is WORK. The point to a Disney vacation used to be showing up and having a good time; thinking is not required. There's a reason they used to tell new park employees that park guests are really paying for the right to turn off their thinking (and thus CMs are supposed to be even more vigilant about their safety, etc).Quote:
Originally Posted by wdwowner
DCL works against that. I guess, in retrospect, I was supposed to know every detail before my vacation. I had wanted to show up and be surprised. Disney's brand for decades has conditioned me to just show up and be surprised. Well, I was surprised, all right.
I am really glad I read this article and the feedback here as I have seriously been thinking about taking a Disney cruise. My family has never cruised before, so this is great to read about what it is like and what to expect. I really wanted to get the room with a verandah, but I think I will avoid that. Its like hotel rooms with a view - I don't care as I am at the parks, not in my room. I didn't realize about the formal attire thing. I have polo shirts, but would need to get a suit or tux. I hate dressing up like that, but if it is only one night it'll be ok. I think if we go on a Disney cruise we will do the 3 or 4 night cruise. The 7 day seems too much for a first time cruise.
C'mon, Kev - do you really believe that a Disney vacation doesn't require some research? We've all seen the people standing at the entryway to Main Street, fumbling with the map and trying to find out where the Splashdown Earth roller coaster is. And we mock them mercilessly for that. You would be foolish to go to WDW for the first time without reading a guidebook or two or spending some time online. To expect a perfect cruise vacation without doing the same level of research is to set yourself up for disappointment. And that's exactly what happened.Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinYee
"If this had been a cruise ship by some other operator, I would have expected to be accosted every few minutes and given the "hard sell." But Disney is famous for never really doing that, at least in the theme parks, right?"
This is quite possibly the most absurd statement I've ever seen on any Disney website, and believe me, there's a lot of competition (check the archives at www.wdwmagic.com when people were in a panic over a redecorated food court in The Land at EPCOT).
Disney parks are selling run amuk. You have to stand and watch a commercial before seeing Honey I Shrunk the Audience for corn's sake!
Yes, because its sponsored by Kodak. Most Disney rides have a sponsor of some sort, and in return for their sponsorship they get some form of advertising. This is litterally how its been since day one. The Mansanto Adventure Thru Inner Space. The General Electric Carousel of Progress. Star Tours presented by Energizer Indiana Jones Adventure presented by AT&T. Space Mountain sponsored by FedEx. The Enchanted Tiki Room presented by Dole (and they even sell Dole Pinnaple treats right in the ride! Oh the advertising! :rolleyes:). Autopia Presentied by Chevron. I could go on and on.Quote:
Originally Posted by ralfrick
However seeing these advertisements in the park does not constitute a "Hard Sell" any more then a billboard on the freeway. Now, the photographers waiting to try and get you to try and take a photograph which you have to pay for to get (which is much better in WDW now because of "Photopass") that's a hard sell. And the Disney Vacation Club carts and sinage all over the place? That's a hard sell.
You don't even need to watch the Kodak preshow on HIStA. You can look at your map, talk to someone you're with. And a lot of people even enjoyed the old True Colors preshow in and of itself.
Now maybe Kevin was a little harsh, but he payed a LOT of money for this cruise. And if you have to be a cruise expert to enjoy your cruise, something is clearly wrong with the level of customer service.
I have to agree with danyoung and the other posters in this thread -- I think your ridiculously high expectations of Disney were just resentments waiting to happen. Anything less than a perfect experience where all families stayed together constantly, every detail was spelled out weeks in advance, and you were taken out of the squalor of the real world (which, in fact, you were) seems to have led to lots of the negative comments about the cruise.Quote:
Originally Posted by danyoung
Not that it sounds like you had a half-bad time, but the whole not eating dinner thing because you were pouting upstairs over your clothes seems like a major overreaction. If you go to the Parks and it is unexpectedly freezing out and you forgot your jacket, what do you do? You suck it up and buy a sweater at one of the bazillion shops surrounding you.
The point of the cruise is the CRUISE, not the Disney. Why, exactly, would a kid want to spend time with his/her familiy all the time instead of playing with other kids on the boat? From the cruises I've been on as a kid (with my parents, I might add), that was the fun of the whole experience. Why would a parent want to watch their kids 24/7 for a week and not have some alone activities?
I've been on 4 Royal Carribean Cruises with roughly the same itinerary. The Disney Cruise sounds like Cruising with a Disney flair. The point of a cruise is not the sitting on a beach for three days, it's about being in your giant floating hotel, eating, meeting other people from all over the place, laying out by the pool, looking at the ocean, etc. I can sit on a beach for three days in Malibu, and that is for free.
Sorry Kevin I don't mean to be totally harsh on you here, but you gotta do SOME homework when trying a new experience like this. I agree that DCL is too much money. But I guess on the other things, if they figure you have enough to pay for the inflated cruise prices, you also have money to pay for the multitude of other things on the cruise... (again, homework would have helped here)
Plus I think if you had been on other cruises you'd know a little better what to expect. You could also have called DCL and asked them to confirm your assumptions about clothing, etc. Knowing now what to expect, I'm glad you'll give cruising another shot in the future. I think your expectations will be different and thus your experience will have more positives in it.
Yup. I do. I want to be surprised, amazed, delighted. Much of that is gone for me if I have to plan it out ahead of time or have researched what to do (it's also why I avert my eyes in the movie theaters while they show trailers of upcoming movies).Quote:
Originally Posted by danyoung
I can say with some assurance that many folks arrive at Disney parks with the same attitude. As I said previously, in some ways that's what they are paying for - the right to show up and just be blown away, no research needed.