We just returned from a 5 night cruise on the Disney Magic out of New York, calling on Bar Harbor Maine and St. John New Brunswick. Many of the features that attract us to Disney remain - the amazing dining room staff and cabin stewards, the entertainment (many levels above other lines) and the attention to detail. However, we were quite disappointed to experience several areas where service cutbacks had been imposed very recently, and I thought that I would share them with the forum. Like many of you, I have multiple Disney cruises on multiple ships, so I know what has been delivered in the past. Some cutbacks were obvious, and some were more subtle, but the overall combination produces the unavoidable conclusion that budget consciousness has hit Disney Cruises. Given the price of the product, this news is really sad.
It started at embarkation. Disney had cut out the gold and silver express line, and 95% of the passengers were forced into a single line with a wait of some 75 minutes. Given the technology available to companies today, this is simply unacceptable. Disney's "system" of allotted check in times was a complete shambles. It seems that the system has a giant hole - no one checks the boarding time until the passenger checks in, and then it is only used to determine actual boarding group. We had an 11 am to 11:30 boarding time and had to wait endlessly behind passengers with 2 or 3 pm check in times. Disney needs a better system and they need to restore the gold express check in. The Castaway Club loyalty tiers already provide very little value. Taking away one of the biggest benefits is no way to build loyalty.
When we finally did board, the next cutback was presented. We were seated for lunch (I don't do buffets), and as usual were presented with a bread basket (and I am a fan of Disney breads). That's it. No butter at all. I asked my helpful server for butter, and after a while he brought butter, but just two tiny pats for a table of four. I am usually successful at suppressing my sarcasm, particularly when it comes to dining room staff, but I asked: "is there a butter shortage that I have not read about?" The surprising response was "no sir, this is the new standard we just started". I guess I laughed, because a minute or two later the head server came over and said the same thing. He was very embarrassed and suggested that I comment about it. I noticed many similar small cutbacks throughout the food service during the cruise, and found myself having to ask for many items that in the past were simply brought and offered. I understand trying to reduce waste, but at the very premium price point charged by Disney, further inflating already industry leading profit levels by cutting back on such items as butter is a disservice to the Disney cruising community. Yes, butter is a small thing, and many of you are probably thinking that I am making a big thing our of nothing, but having been affiliated with major corporation for many years, I know what happens to a company where finance rules everything. I believe that it is starting to happen here.