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  1. #1

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    5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    Kevin takes a second Disney Cruise, has a book review and shares his AbandondedWorld E-mail. Discuss it all here!
    "Politics is the profession whereby the inevitable is made to seem a great human achievement" - Quentin Crisp

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    Great Article as always. I had a question about the infant cost you were lamenting. Was that cost for your infant the DCL cost or just the port fees? When we were looking into booking a few years back with an infant I was told the only cost for her would be the port fees which could not be waived because everyone had to pay these fees. Now that was a few years ago so I don't know how it is now.

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    If you recall, I had serious issues with your review of the first cruise. I can accept that some guests may have very specific complaints regarding DCL, but your complaints surrounding the first trip seemed to be more about a general lack of planning. I am pleased to see that the second trip was more pleasant.

    FYI - the show your refer to as "Disney Dreamer" is actually "Disney Dreams".

    I agree, with a premium price there can be additional perks. What those additional perks are should be decided by the company. I hate bottled water (I know I am in the minority here) and would not drink any of it so placing a case in each room may not be the best perk. You could certainly provide some things to guests when they request it. I do agree that with premium pricing you should have a few more perks. That said, as you have yet to cruise on another line, the nickel-and-diming you refer to is NOTHING compared to other lines.

    Yes, a Carnival cruise is cheaper upfront, but you will spend almost the same amount in the end. You actually need to experience a different cruise line and not make comparisons via the brochure. I was floored at how much I had to spend on another line to have a cruise similar to what I expect from Disney. In the end, Disney is really providing a number of perks for that premium price compared to other lines. A welcome drink is a great idea and the reality is that many guests would not even turn in their coupon. This would extend goodwill to those who are seeking a few extra perks, but also not cost DCL a great deal of money.

    I love DCL and look forward to our next cruise. Yes, there always areas that are ripe for improvement, however, Disney seems to get most of it correct when compared to other cruise lines. We anxiously await their fleet (and itinerary) expansion in 3 years time.

    In the end, with the "declining by degrees" situation in the theme parks, more people are becoming addicted to the DCL lifestyle. We welcome you to the club!
    Last edited by Disneynut; 05-10-2007 at 06:18 AM.

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    I enjoyed Kevin's article, and I'm glad he and his family enjoyed their cruise on the Disney Wonder. I have a couple of comments about some things that Kevin wrote.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Yee
    Even after you factor in the lessened time on vacation (the previous cruise is billed as seven days, but it's really just barely over six), this price was more than half off the previous price.
    Actually, cruises are billed as 3-night, 4-night, and 7-night cruises. That's a significant distinction. For example, a 7-night cruise involves one partial day, six full days, and the final morning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Yee
    This little gift, I thought, was extremely cool. Does the Disney Vacation Club do these for repeat visitors? Their motto is "welcome home," and yet I suspect the Castaway Club perk is more welcoming of repeat visitors than DVC.
    DVC members pay directly for the operating costs of DVC resorts. Any "free" welcome gifts from a DVC resort would become part of that DVC resort's operating costs, and thus part of the DVC members' annual dues. I doubt many DVC members want to be forced to buy welcome gifts for themselves.
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 05-10-2007 at 06:52 AM.
    Werner Weiss
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  5. #5

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    To paraphrase Sally Field when she received her Best Actress Oscar, "Kevin likes Disney Cruise Line (after all), he really really likes it!"

    I'm one of those site members who posted critique of Kevin for his article about his first Disney Cruise, generally he should have prepared and researched better for it, then perhaps he would have liked it more, and to stay within a comfort zone of price point would also make for a happier experience.

    I'm truly glad Kevin and his family liked the second, shorter, and more economical cruise.

    As for the "nickel and diming": If you are in a large audience venue no matter if it's a cruise ship, a theme park, a professional sports stadium, a concert, a festival... You can count on patrons being "approached" or "sold to" with little (and big) "extras" to shell out money for. It's not just Disney or Disney Cruise Line doing it. Family and I went to one day of the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival last weekend, and there are booths selling T-shirts, bandanas, flags, folding chairs (all logoed to the fest) and all kinds of food and craft vendors all over. Buying a ticket and assuming the costs of parking and food and beverages (adult and non-adult types of drinks) is all there is in today's time is misleading, these are only part of the total cost that can be incurred. My point being: If you go into any large-scale audience experience with the expectation "Tickets, parking, maybe a drink or snack once I'm there is only part of it, there WILL be 'nickel and diming' once I arrive" then you know to expect it, ignore it if it's not affordable or schlocky or tacky, and you simply move on in life. It's not just Disney doing it.

    We took 4-night Disney cruises on the Wonder one year apart, total of two DCL cruises. I half-way expected to see the wait staff we had a year prior to still be there, but I was wrong. There's a fan website called Castaway Club. On it are photos of the crews' quarters, their cabins, recreation areas and more. They live in austere, nearly industrial surroundings in their sections of the ship. Disney does their best to keep morale up, with contests and recreation/social things to do. It cannot be easy to be an employee in the cruise industry and work long days for months at a stretch out at sea serving people. Clearly, there's staff turnover when their contracts come up.

    It might be best for first-time Disney cruiser families or individuals to choose a shorter 3- or 4-night cruise and a more basic level stateroom to see if cruising as a vacation mode is for them or not. Not everyone is made for cruising. If you enjoy the experience, if it leaves you wanting more, you'll usually find good deals while you are still on board the ship. The Castaway Club is a marketing way of Disney's to encourage second and third and repeat trips. The Castaway Club seems to do more today than when we took our second cruise, but still it's a pleasant way to get back on teh ship for another cruise vacation. We haven't sailed on Disney since April 2005, yet Wednesday this week we got a mailing from DCL's Castaway Club, with "new, perkier" (their description) member cards and a description of new perks and advantages to their program, including some member-only rates. Tell Disney, if anyone books a second DCL cruise, that you're a repeat customer, and also if you like your first cruise to book while you're on board, you might get some better attractive pricing. Yes, other cruise lines cost less, but they have more ships and Disney right now only has two ships, but are making two bigger ones that won't be sailing for years yet. Hence, there is demand and little supply. And the news is that the same Caribbean itineraries are starting to get old for some cruisers. Could be Disney joins the travel industry generally in trying to get folks to do the Bahamas and cruising during an industry slump, hence the mroe attractive pricing Kevin took advantage of. DCL keeps track of you and wants to keep marketing to you, periodically expect them to mail you to lure you back to the ships.

    I'd still recommend to first time Disney cruisers to buy a guide book or a few guide books. One guide book should be the excellent Passporter's Guide to Disney Cruise Line, if you are new to DCL this book will guide you through everything! The other guide book or guide books should be about your ports of call. We found Fodor's Bahamas guidebook to be much better than the Passporter for getting more out of our stop in Nassau.

    Travel Channel offers several programs about cruising generally, what to expect, general primer type shows, just keep looking at their program schedule and record these when they pop up. But on April 1, 2007 Travel Channel finally revamped their one-hour long show about Disney Cruise Line, updated it with new stuff and references to the new two ships being built. Not an "April Fool", we're finally getting 2007 content in the Disney related travel shows on Travel Channel! No more reruns of an old rerun, now it's reruns of a brand new show! Keep checking Travel Channel listings on their website. The new DCL show does rerun about once or twice a month, but check listings for their next scheduling. On our DirecTV DVR the older copyright year still appears on the DCL and other Disney park shows but trust me, it's new 2007 content.

    Enjoy future cruises on Disney and perhaps other cruise lines, too, Kevin and the Yee family. When you do other cruise lines, you'll see what sets Disney apart (other than other established cruise lines have more ships to more destinations, and Disney only has two ships for the time being, so it's a supply and demand pricing that Disney is higher priced). I'll look forward to that continuation-type article, it will help Disney fans and cruise consumers quite a bit and I think it will keep Disney on it's toes, too.
    Last edited by CarolKoster; 05-10-2007 at 07:34 AM. Reason: Added a sentence for clarity, corrected punctuation

  6. #6

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    As for the "nickel and diming": If you are in a large audience venue no matter if it's a cruise ship, a theme park, a professional sports stadium, a concert, a festival... You can count on patrons being "approached" or "sold to" with little (and big) "extras" to shell out money for.
    I disagree with this premise. Just because it happens a large amount of time doesn't mean it should. My wife and I went to Sandals for our honeymoon a few years back which is a very expensive trip. However it is all inclusive. I drank top shelf liquor, ate at some of the best restaurants I'd ever eaten at, etc... and never paid another cent for it. In fact, we were told we should not tip the help staff, that they were paid well enough and weren't expecting tips. In fact the few times I tried to tip they told me no thank you.

    The only things I paid extra for were if we wanted an extremely expensive type of wine or if we wanted to do excursions. Other than that we didn't spend a dime once we got to the resort. I see no reason why Disney couldn't adopt that strategy. The only reason I can find is that they have reached a price point where people really won't pay any more no matter how much more is included. If that's the case I don't blame them, but if people are willing to pay an extra hundred bucks or so, I'd rather pay it up front than find out I'm expected to drop another 500 dollars once I'm on the ship.

    As to the article Kevin, this one is a much more well balanced comparison than the first one. I still think you need to take another cruise with someone else if you want to compare otherwise your comparisons really aren't valid. But I'm glad to see you gave it another shot and went with a much more realistic attitude than last time.

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnole View Post
    The only things I paid extra for were if we wanted an extremely expensive type of wine or if we wanted to do excursions. Other than that we didn't spend a dime once we got to the resort. I see no reason why Disney couldn't adopt that strategy.
    The problem here is that Sandal's claims to be "all inclusive" and then you go on to state that it isn't really all inclusive. In my book, all inclusive does not allow for charges even if you want a really expensive wine, excursions, etc.

    I truly believe that DCL has reached the limits of all inclusive to the extent that their business model will allow them to go. It is advertised heavily that alcohol, shore excursions, merchandise (photos) and gratuities are additional. Disney does not misrepresent or abuse the term "all inclusive" where other companies do.

    In the end, DCL is still a business. The spur of the moment purchases are clearly relied upon to add to the bottom line. The "nickel-and-diming" effect that Kevin speaks of is really not as bad as he says. Yes, the first day you are asked to take a photo (but not asked to BUY it). The first few hours you are asked to buy water and/or wine packages. The difference is that these items quickly fade away and you are not given the hard sell like you are on other cruise lines.

    This is simply a part of global travel and it should be expected no matter where you go. We live in a world up "up-sells" and "super-size-it" and Disney is no different in this regard.
    Last edited by Disneynut; 05-10-2007 at 11:03 AM.

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    Great article.. glad you were able to enjoy yourself more this time.

    I totally agree with the comments about 'personalizing' and the little things for return guests. Finding things like a hand-written note from housekeeping, free bottled water in the rooms, branded giveaways, are all little nice perks that when delivered 'unexpected' always win great customer loyalty.

    Really.. what's the difference between the high end hotels and the bargins? Typically just the 'inclusions' in the room and the quality of the resturant/bar. Disney should be recognizing repeat customers with 'personalized' favors upon arrival. The 'welcome home' attage is perfect.

    Alas it seems WDW has taken on the philosophy that you are going to come anyways

    I hate the fact my stay at the Gaylord right across the street from WDW is so much more of an enjoyable hotel experience then the on-property hotels tend to be.

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    I'm glad you had a better time on this cruise. I cringed last time since I know you made a lot of "first time cruise mistakes" on that one. If you go on enough cruises, you don't even need to see a schedule. On a 7 day cruise, go to the deck at 4:00pm on a Thursday and Magically you will see an Ice carving demonstration. If you really know where to look you can find some gems, like the "Crew Show" usually around 11:00pm or 12:00am on one of the nights. Depending on where most of the crew is from you will get some very nice singing and cultural dances from that part of the world. Of course that is on the "other" cruise lines. But they probably have them on longer Disney cruises as well.

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    Kevin, with all due respect, if you think DCL is "premium pricing" you should shop around a bit.

    It is generally held that the cruise industry has three tiers. The lowest tier includes Carnival, Royal Carib, and Disney - although there is certainly a range within that tier. All of them charge for the same extras like bottled water. If Disney can get a bit more for their balconies, well, it's supply and demand; Disney has two ships where Carnival has nine hundred million ships (it seems).

    Next up is Princess (ish), Celebrity, and the like. In other words, ships where you can get a butler if you pay enough. That probably qualifies as premium pricing; the cheapest stateroom goes for well over $5k per person for most shorter (7-night - these guys don't do 3 nights) cruises.

    Super-premium is stuff like Cunard, Seabourne, Radisson (who just changed their name to something I forget), and the like - couples will easily drop $20k or more for a cruise, and they ARE all-inclusive, including all but the most expensive alcoholic drinks.

    Disney's just following the same practices as everyone else in their end of the market, and they are CERTAINLY not charging "premium pricing." While $5k is certainly a lot of money, you have to gauge the pricing relative to the market, not your own (or my) bank account. And yes, most DCL cruises cost more on an apples-to-apples comparison. That isn't putting them in a premium market, it's just a reflection of product supply and demand.

    Were you on a Carnival cruise, or even Royal Carib, you'd likely find the same things that annoyed you about Disney, and almost none of the things that made you happy, and you'd be paying - for a comparable stateroom category, time of year, and so forth - about the same.

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    Kevin,

    Until you have tried one of the other cruise lines it's probably best not to compare prices and facilities, etc.

    I cruise with P&O every year and it compares quite favourably to Disney, except for a few key areas - Kids facilities and entertainment and stage shows. These are far better on the Disney ships.

    Price wise P&O are just as expensive as Disney and less inclusive, although we do get a 5% discount on everything we spend on board due to being a repeat visitor.

    The thing you will notice most about the 'cheaper' cruise lines is the quality of service, food and the company you will be keeping.

    Ian
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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    The problem here is that Sandal's claims to be "all inclusive" and then you go on to state that it isn't really all inclusive. In my book, all inclusive does not allow for charges even if you want a really expensive wine, excursions, etc.
    I don't see it that way. The excursions are not part of what Sandals does. If you want to go out into the country you can do it, but those are booked through a seperate company. Sandals may get a kick back for allowing that company to have a booking desk at their resort, but you know its that company you're booking with and not sandals.

    The only thing that Sandals does, at least at the resort that we were at that they charged extra for was the expensive wines. We're talking over 100 dollars a bottle. It would be patently ridiculous to put those into the price range of the all inclusive because they'd have to raise their rates by probably 500 bucks a person to cover that. I don't see that as a misrepresentation of all inclusive. I got some very nice wines and top shelf liquor whenever I wanted it without paying a dime for it.

    I know Disney doesn't claim to be all inclusive, but I do agree with Kevin that if they added some of those little nickel and dime things into the package that they'd only really have to up the price by just a bit and it would make the trip feel a bit more magical. I wouldn't have to know that the picture cost my trip to raise by 10 bucks, that's a price I'd never really notice, but getting the free picture sure would make me feel awfully nice and special. Even if the price is exactly the same, its something that feels different. And that magical feeling is what the Disney name is truly about is it not?

    So make bottled water be free, give away the picture. How much would it really take away from the bottom line, and to overcome it how much would it really cost to add it into the price of the stay?

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnole View Post
    I don't see it that way. The excursions are not part of what Sandals does.
    For the record, it was not meant to be argumentative, I have never been to a Sandals Resort. I do agree with this logic, but in the same vein, Disney does not do their own excursions either.

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnole View Post
    The only thing that Sandals does, at least at the resort that we were at that they charged extra for was the expensive wines. We're talking over 100 dollars a bottle. It would be patently ridiculous to put those into the price range of the all inclusive because they'd have to raise their rates by probably 500 bucks a person to cover that. I don't see that as a misrepresentation of all inclusive. I got some very nice wines and top shelf liquor whenever I wanted it without paying a dime for it.
    I agree with this too, my quick solution would be to eliminate the very high end wines if they promote it as truly "all inclusive". Although I am a wine enthusiast, I can live with Kendall Jackson or Mondavi if it is already included in the price.

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnole View Post
    I know Disney doesn't claim to be all inclusive, but I do agree with Kevin that if they added some of those little nickel and dime things into the package that they'd only really have to up the price by just a bit and it would make the trip feel a bit more magical.
    I actually agree with you here, but the larger question that begs to be asked is "when is enough, actually enough"? Disney already includes many things that other lines don't (such as soda). So you give away one (1) free picture and six (6) bottles of water. Sadly, in a very short time people will become all too familiar with the benefits (much like the soda) and then expect more. It sounds good, but I see it as a never ending black hole of benefits.

    In addition, you may have the odd customer such as myself who won't drink bottled water and therefore would not consider it a real "perk". My wife and I always cruise in suites and receive free soda in the room as well as Palo room service. We love this, but after a few cruises, we start to want more (concierge lounge among other things). In fairness to Disney, I am realistic that no matter what level of service you provide, a large percentage of guests will always want more.

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnole View Post
    So make bottled water be free, give away the picture. How much would it really take away from the bottom line, and to overcome it how much would it really cost to add it into the price of the stay?
    In the end, I fully agree with you. A few extra pennies will indeed spread some extra goodwill and magic around. I think that my position is that it will be soon be overlooked and guests will always continue to ask for more. Just my opinion though, thanks for shedding some light on Sandal's, we may look into it for a future vacation option!

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    I enjoyed the read, as always, Kev.

    But I still think you need to cruise more before making any definitive statements beyond simple opinion.

    And while you may feel you got 'a deal' by paying 'only $1,200' for a three-night cruise, I can tell you that there are FAR better deals out there. DCL is priced with a HUGE markup because they are so small, and fill a tiny niche in the cruise industry.

    You can likely get a 5-7 night cruise on Carnival or RCCL -- in a higher level stateroom -- than what you paid at a discount to cruise with Disney.

    I love DCL, as I've said many times before. But unless you're going on a cast member or travel agent rate, you're paying a steep, steep price for going to sea with Mickey and pals. And DCL is far and away less likely to nickel and dime you on the small stuff ... you really need to study the cruise industry and how they price things (like why EVERY cruise constantly takes as many pics of you as they can or alcohol or shore excursions etc ...)

    More importantly, it's nice to see that the vast majority of your feedback on the Abandoned World piece was in agreement. And I don't say that just because I passed the idea, and many of the examples, on to you.

    It proves yet again that people DO NOTICE the declining by degrees (or WalMarting as I like to call it) of WDW. And it also proves that WDW is counting on the ignorance of new guests and relatively new ones to rest on its laurels (as Walt would put it) or reputation to continually bland down the product.

    It's also why so many 'fans' on sites like this who never visited WDW prior to 1996, IMHO the year when WDW jumped the shark, scare me with their defense of management and their putdowns of folks like myself, who have been visiting for over 30 years and well know that the place has been overbuilt and has changed fundamentally (and mostly for the worse).

    I'm glad there are folks who just started their love of WDW in the past decade or less. That's wonderful. But they really have zero right to comment about the way things used to be when they have no experience to back up their opinions.

    But maybe all isn't lost yet. Brad Rex, a joke of an exec, got the ax at Epcot recently ... and Phil Holmes (a total embarrassment to the Disney legacy) is next to leave.

    Perhaps, when Jay Rasulo gets pushed out in the next year, Bob Iger will show some testicular fortitude and place a creative, visionary exec in charge of the parks who understands they're more than just places to sell plush, pins, princesses and pirates.

    We can hope.

    But I really hope you keep the pressure on.

    ANd please ... do me a favor. That rotting door in the Beach Club laundry room (you know the deluxe resort that starts at $300 a night) needs replacement. Put some pics up. You'll shame Disney into replacing it.

    Believe me, out of everything you've written, it's things like Abandoned World that scares the pooh out of WDW execs. Because it's Al Lutzian in form and focus, even if your style isn't as flamboyant as Al's. They well know that it's a very small leap from Kevin Yee writing about how the MK resembles an outlet mall gone bad in many places to mainstream media writing/reporting on it as well ... and that scares them A LOT!

    You do have power to help bring about change.

    The question is whether you choose to use it.

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    Re: 5/10: Second Time Wonderful

    Be prepared. The Disney parks will only get worse from here on out under Iger. He is only interested in making a name for himself. I almost feel sorry for Lasseter. It's understandable that he has basically shut down--He stands no chance up against the raging monsters that sit on the Disney board and [the accounting reform act] Sarbanes-Oxley. All they do is rotate their idiocracy. No change in store for Disney or this nation unless the people of this country and the free press start to actually do something.

    K.R.B.

    Is it just me, or did this emailer freak you out a bit. Kind of goes against all the things we've beent talking about on the boards since Bob came aboard as captain...maybe he knows something we don't know. Maybe he doesn't?
    Seems to be there have been a lot of good things happening too, and more so rumor of better things to come (from P&R and WDI if John can make big change.) hmm...

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