I generally felt safe with my children on the ship; however, there are some significant security lapses that parents and Disney need to know about.
The lojack bracelets / wristbands are somewhat reliable. The children are given a bracelet (it kind of looks like a watch without the face) that snaps around the wrist; however, they are used differently in the It’s a Small World Nursery and Oceaneer. In Oceaneer, the bracelet is secured with a zip tie so the child cannot pull off the bracelet. In the Nursery, the bracelets aren’t used with zip ties (they said this was for safety reasons). This means a child can easily pull off the bracelet. In fact, the staff in the Nursery suggested that we attach the bracelet to the diaper bag. I am not sure what purpose the bracelet serves in It’s a Small World Nursery.
Disney's Oceaneer Club
The Oceaneer Club has significant lapses in security.
On our first day at sea we dropped off two children. The staff scanned the bracelets and we left. When we returned to pick up our children I noticed several lapses in security. I went in and grabbed my children and then attempted to check them out. I stood there for several minutes and no one noticed me. In fact, I had to grab a staff member and asked to be checked out. I am fairly certain that I could have left without checking out largely because all of the staff members were busy checking in other children.
Once I got their attention the staff member scanned one child’s bracelet but the bracelet was not in their system. I don’t recall the exact wording on the computer, but something along the lines off bracelet not activated, not in the system, etc. Then she scanned the other bracelet and my child’s full name and picture appeared on the computer along with the names and pictures of my entire family. Then she asked for the last name, which I told her. I asked if she wanted my password, she said “no” because she has my last name. Here’s the first problem: she didn’t ask for the password. This is simply inexcusable. Here’s the second problem: once they scanned my son’s bracelet I saw the last name on the computer (the computer screen is in plain view and anyone can see it). So if my son’s name is Junior Smith, “Junior Smith” appears on the computer. Then when she asks what the last name is, I merely have to say “Smith” after seeing “Smith” on the computer.
NOTE TO DISNEY: Here’s what you need to do to make exits from Oceaneer safe. 1) Have a dedicated exit line where the staff member does nothing but allow children and parents to leave. 2) Have a staff member dedicated to checking out children. This way no staff member will assume that another staff member checked out the parent and child. 3) After creating a dedicated exit line, create a dedicated exit computer where the computer screen faces the wall (just like the nursery). This way no one except the staff member can see what’s on the computer screen. 4) Ask for the password. 5) Improve your staff training. It’s clear that at least one of your Oceaneer staff members is not properly trained.
It's A Small World Nursery
We were very pleased with the nursery and staff. It is a quiet and welcoming place for small children. There is a separate area for naps. Once on the ship you can sign up for as much time as you like.
The balconies are fairly safe for children. The plexiglass guard wall is high enough to prevent climbing over and low enough to prevent crawling under. Also, the sliding glass door to the balcony has a lock at the top of the door (and out of a child’s reach) to prevent children from going out to the balcony.
It’s very easy for children to exit the room door and run into the hallway. The room door has a handle and a lock below it. This is what you see in most hotels. The bottom lock isn’t a true deadbolt. To exit the room you simply turn the handle and pull the door open. The bottom lock is intended to keep people from entering your room. Most hotels, however, have a lock (often a chain or equivalent) at the top of the door. Disney does not have this top lock. This means that any child can pull the door handle and leave the room at any time. So if you are in the room with a child, need a moment to go to the bathroom or shower, there is nothing to prevent the child from leaving the room.
Other aspects of the cruise were nice.
The ship is very clean. They pass out hand wipes every time you go into a restaurant. They also have someone stationed in the bathrooms near the pool constantly cleaning.
Anyone with kids on this cruise surely will need coffee. Before 6:00 am you have two options: 1) room service where you placed the order the night before; and 2) Deck 11 by the pool at the soda/coffee station. In fact, the soda/coffee station by the pool open 24 hours. If you want a fancy latte or espresso, you have to go to the Cafe on Deck 4 in the middle of the ship. The coffee at the Cafe is not free and the hours are limited.
The food was very good. Cabanas is excellent for a quick lunch, or even a long lunch if you so desire. It's located next to the pool and overlooks the water. By the end of the week you will get tired of the lunch menu. The "fresh" seafood option is the same every day: cold crabs, cold mussels, and cold shrimp. There are a variety of hot seafood each day such as cod and halibut. The rotational dining is very good. The selection each night has enough variety that there is something that anyone will enjoy. Flo's cafe is perfect for feeding your kids (or yourself) without leaving the pool area. You can grab pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc. and bring them back to your chair at the pool.
The shows were excellent. A co-traveler and I joked before the cruise that we would ditch the shows and go to a bar, but we ended up watching the shows and were glad we did. My children had never been to a broadway-type show, but they thoroughly enjoyed these. The shows were about 40 minutes long and had sufficient scenery and props to keep them entertained. By the way, there's a bar outside the theater and you can bring drink inside.