I just returned from a 5-day cruise with my wife, two kids (aged 4.5 and 22 months), along with the grandparents. This was our first Disney Cruise. Overall, it was a fantastic experience. Service was excellent, food was well above ... Read More
I just returned from a 5-day cruise with my wife, two kids (aged 4.5 and 22 months), along with the grandparents. This was our first Disney Cruise. Overall, it was a fantastic experience. Service was excellent, food was well above average, and the kids had a great time, which was our primary purpose. Some specific notes below...
Embarkation: We splurged for the 1-BR concierge suite because it was relatively inexpensive due to time of year and it gave us more room for the kids. The grandparents did not have suites/concierge, and we were wondering whether they would let them board early with us even though they didnt pay for concierge services. Early research suggested they would not be allowed to, but this proved false. We simply asked and DCL obliged, and we were all aboard by 11:40, one of the first groups on the ship. It was very simple.
Concierge Services: I didnt know if this would really be worth the extra money, and I guess it depends on what use you make of the concierge. We didn't make excessive use, but I will say this was an amazing feature on so many levels. Our personal concierge, Joanne, was great. Very personable, knew our names whenever we ran into her, responded to every request promptly and with a great attitude, etc... Before we ever met her, she got us tickets to meet the Frozen characters and princesses, which were the only ticketed character meetings, and she said she can get us more anytime. Also, on the point noted above, even though our parents weren't concierge guests, they got the benefit of many of these services when they tagged along with us, including tickets with us to meet the characters. And we were told they could join us in the concierge lounge, though we never took advantage of this. Not sure this would occur if you booked one concierge room and a large number of non-concierge (i.e. for a very large group), but for our group of 7, they were happy to let them tag along and get many of these benefits.
Concierge guests get a lot of other small benefits as well, such as daily snacks delivered, a free Disney lithograph delivered to our room, room service breakfast on the last day, free cocktails here and there, among other things. Perhaps the best thing to come out of this....the pirate night was the same day we were in Cozumel. That day, we planned to buy our daughter the Anna (Frozen) costume dress to wear to dinner that night, while our son dressed as a pirate. We didn't realize, however, that the on-board stores would be closed until we left Cozumel due to customs regulations. So we called the concierge to see if perhaps they could get us the dress. We were initially told it may be difficult b/c of customs issues and because those with access to stores were not onboard at the moment, so we suggested that perhaps if the dress could be obtained and provided, we could be charged for it a day later (i.e. so the "sale" didnt occur while in port). Had that occurred, I would have been really impressed. In any event, Joanne tried, but we couldn't get the dress in time. It wasn't a big deal at all. Yet, when we returned that evening, the dress was in the room, along with a big plush pillow pet for my son, both with personalized notes. And when we told Joanne to jsut charge it to our account, she said they were complements of DCL. Nearly $100 in goods, for free, simply because they couldn't get us the dress when we first asked for it. This was really impressive and really distinguished DCL from other cruise lines.
Characters: our kids were really into the characters, and it was very easy to see them, many times over and over. Of course the lines are longer on the first day and then ease up as the cruise goes on, but at most, I'd say we waited 15 minutes for any single character meeting, and usually a lot less. Certainly better than the long lines you experience at WDW.
Food/Dining Service: All quite good. This was my 8th cruise, but first in a number of years. The food compared well with the best. And my parents, who were with us, cruise much more often and felt that this food exceeded the current status quo of many if not most of the cruise lines. They were also very good about accommodating special requests due to food allergies and son's picky eating habits.
Cabin/Public Spaces: As we were in a 1-BR suite, obviously our experience will be different than most, but that room is fantastic, and very large for a cruise ship (essentially 2 standard rooms in 1). And despite the age of the ship, the cabins and all public spaces are very well maintained and the ship does not look its age.
Ports: the two ports were Cozumel and Castaway Cay. We didnt care much for Cozumel, as we had been there before and there's not much to it. We walked off for a bit, and then came back to the ship, which was perfectly fine by us. Castaway Cay is quite impressive, and very Disney-esque. It looks like a WDW theme park, and is very nice. We splurged for a cabana. I resisted spending that much for the cabana, but in the end, I will say it may have been worth the money to have that private space and added level of service. I know these are hard to get if you arent a Concierge guest or Disney platinum member, but if you can get one, I would say to go for it.
Overall: it's an expensive cruise, but you pay for what you get, and we had a great time. I would definitely do it again, though not sure I could do it without Concierge having now experienced that. Read Less