A frank review from a veteran cruiser, to include 5 Disney cruises. First of all, as always, attentive service is a Disney hallmark. However, the crew is under such pressure to achieve "excellent" ratings that they begin to ... Read More
A frank review from a veteran cruiser, to include 5 Disney cruises. First of all, as always, attentive service is a Disney hallmark. However, the crew is under such pressure to achieve "excellent" ratings that they begin to push you for it and we had numerous private spiels on how anything less than an excellent is tantamount to destroying the employee's career. Therefore, it is very difficult for Disney to receive honest reviews in their surveys. They even ask in the post-cruise survey, were you pressured to provide an excellent ? Well, the answer has to be no, or else some poor worker who is trying to support his family back home loses his source of income.
1) Entertainment was tired on its good days and something akin to an off-strip Vegas sideshow on its other days. You absolutely would not pay money for this entertainment off of a cruise ship. They present three Disney productions, and the rest are the typical cruise ship night club act. This is partially due to the fact that this ship in particular has not changed its lineup of shows for a considerable time. There is no reason that Disney cannot change its enterainment line-up every year or so. One night the main entertainment was a movie showing of Star Wars. Three weeks after its release and after the ship showed it in the theater daily. It was like the kings of entertainment were struggling to imaginear a show to put before its guests. There was so little adequate entertainment in other venues that it was not worth pursuing, some very tired lounge singers with less than a handful or people watching. Remember there is no casino on Disney, but Disney has not made an entertainment compensation for the adults. The most energetic and frequent presentations were the Shopping Guide and the unending Vaction Club presentations.
2) As mentioned in other reviews, dining opportunities are regrettable. You dine on a designated rotation at a set time. The menu was exactly the same in all three restaurants on three nights and then was a set place menu based upon where you are seated in one of the three restaurants. The food is so trying that the servers frankly tell you which dishes to try, usually one-two from each category, and then honestly and quietly tell you that you will not enjoy anything else. They were unfailingly accurate in that assessment. So the menu may have 5-6 choices for the main entree but there are only a couple that are acceptable. Fish is consistently dry and tough as are the chicken choices.
So, you have three very mediocre restaurants. The servers told us that if we rank the food bad in the Disney surver, then it will hurt the servers. The servers tell you that the food is prepared properly, it is just a matter of personal choice whether you like it or not. Hogwash. Good food is good food and many of these dishes were overspiced or served cold or there was an inadequate set of choices. If you choose to deviate, there is a casual restaurant that serves selections from precisely the same tired menus in the main dining rooms. There is no dinner buffet.
Your other choices are the top deck choices. They are a pizza place that uses pre-fab pizza crust with an unimaginative topping thrown on. Or there is a quick serve that offers hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken strips. At that place, a resentful cook, literally throws a dry bun on a paper plate, slaps a dried burger patty on top and then a piece of standard industrial pre-sliced cheese on your plate with a grunt. Right before your eyes. Bon appetit ! It is amazing that a cruise line like Carnival that charges half of Disney or less, can offer such a wider variety of food offerings to include gourmet walk-ups. Guy's Burgers on Carnival, and yesterday's cafeteria lunchroom buger on Disney.
3) Smoking. Rules are not enforced, might as well take a casino ship. We watched a lady at the adult pool blow thunderclouds of e-cigarette smoke and no one uttered a word. The employees all do the Corporal Kink, they see nothing, when it comes to breaking rules because they are terrified of getting anything less than an excellent on a comment card. Disney opened up the 4th deck for smoking, which is also the deck where you can walk or run laps, play shuffleboard, or watch the waves. Both sides of the deck had smokers, smoking anywhere they wish. Nothing like taking an after dinner stroll through a camel cloud.
4) The Wonder is old and overdue a dry-dock. There is a lot of rust. She creaks and groans and on this cruise rolled a lot during the sailings. However, there is no excuse for the lack of cleanliness. We are frequent cruisers and my wife brings cleaning wipes just in case, but in this case, she had to clean the cabinets and drawers and the wipes came out black. The bathroom was very clean at eye level but was not down in the corners and up in the corners. Yes, this was a tough cruise for the crew there were a lot of challenges with the plethora of very young children, but public spaces were dirty. At times, there would be one crew member working to keep a large section of public tables clean and it was physically impossible for him to do that.
5) Disney publishes a daily Navigator, similar to many cruise lines. In past times, the wait staff and stateroom attendants would also relay important information on ports, dining, and activities. No so much anymore. The Navigator is shallow and unless you are an experienced Disney cruiser, it is difficult to get your arms around what is going on.
6) Excursions. Even though it is Disney, they are no different than any other cruise ship. Disney gathers the group on board and delivers them to a local tour operator. Disney does not send a ships representative, so there is no quality control, you are completely in the hands of the local tour group. There is no feedback mechanism. Sure, the cheaper cruises do this precisely this way, but this is a premium cruise.
7) They moved up the luggage drop. You have to put your luggage in the hall by 10 oclock the night prior to departure. Then you keep your toiletries, a change for the next day, night things and shag them out in a carry-on. We were on second dining, that means in our semi-formal attire. The second dining usually ran untl 945 and even 10 oclock, leaving no time to get back and change and put out suitcases. And no time to do anything else. So we opted not to go to the formal dining. Disney closes its only other dining option on the last night. So it is everyone eat off the same fixed menu in all dining rooms, or.... The or was they even close the pizza place during dining, so the or is a dried hamburger patty or chicken strip for dinner. Seriously, every other cruise line get this right and does this better. We sat on the top deck with several other guests who were eating a dried burger for their last dinner on board. Oh, Disney does not put out napkins. There are little signs that say napkins available upon request. Finger food without napkins. I saw more frustrated finger sucking and wiping hands on clothing than I have ever seen. People leaving messes on the unattended tables because they do not have napkins to clean up. I actually went into the bathroom and got paper towlels from the lavatory so we could try and finish our dinner.
Disney used to do much better. We have cruised all of her ships, three of them in their first year. Disney is absolutely one of the most expensive lines in the market, in many cases double the cost of its competitors. We have sailed on most of them. Once you get past the wow factor of having your kids meet Mickey or Tinker Bell, and the wow of sending them away to play in a Disney venue, there is a need for some varnish in its tired line-up of dining, entertainment and customer support.
Why did we come back to Disney ? It used to be the standard setter for the industry. All of the other cruise lines are providing much more diversity in their dining and entertainment options. If Disney has more options that what I described, well then after multiple cruises, no one has presented the options to us. The Disney entertainment empire has so much it could offer and it should get back to Walt's core values which were focused on the guest. I know Disney is losing some if its core entertainment market in television, but there is no need to try and make up for the profit margins on the back of its guests. This Ship misses Walt's mark greatly. Read Less