This was our 3rd Merrytime cruise, as cruising over Christmas has become our tradition, however this year might be our last. The quality of DCL is clearly slipping. The Magic is dated, showing many signs of wear from the room to the pool.
The dining staff at dinner works so hard, they are in constant rapid motion. It seems they are short staffed, forced to cover more tables per server than should be humanly possible, so clearly over worked but rising nightly to the occasion. The chaos it creates is overwhelming and makes it difficult to catch the attention of your server at dinner because they are constantly dashing between their assigned tables, to the kitchen to grab food / give orders and back. Even if I could locate them, the clear stress they were under, and sense of overwhelm in the room made me feel guilty asking for anything. On other (not DCL) cruises I’ve been on the dinner time experience was calm, relaxing, and the servers were assigned a more reasonable number of tables. My children have special needs and the chaos / noise in the room was too much for them, so they were often agitated and upset at dinner, unable to eat. I did learn toward the end of the cruise that Cabanas (the buffet) was open for a sit down dinner outside of this assigned dining that was much calmer and more enjoyable - it also creates more flexibility in terms of timing if you need to eat earlier for the kids one day. I’d recommend that instead.
Having the characters around the boat is always so much fun for the kids, this team of characters was the best of our 3 cruises, and most patient with my special needs kiddos. We love the nightly family dance parties as this is something we often do at home too, however they really should relocate the photographers so they are not in the middle of the dance floor getting frustrated with little dancers who have wandered toward the posed families in front of the backdrops. Being our third cruise, the same musicals are getting a bit old, I wish they would add some new ones or mix it up! The pirate party was magical, as was the tree lighting and goodbye ceremony - I wish they could be a bit earlier to accommodate the kiddos as a 10pm start is late for most kids!
But the most shockingly terrible part was the spa. I regularly get messages and this was the absolute worst experience I’ve ever had. The massage ‘therapist’ could not have had ANY advanced training in massage. At first I laid there questioning myself, it can’t really be this bad right? Am I overreacting? Maybe it will get better? It didn’t. It kept getting worse and the experience was making me so anxious I was starting to itch and break into hives. She applied WAY too much oil, so much so that it was uncomfortable and made her rushed touch feel like a tickle - contributing to the overall feeling of the massage being rushed and sloppy. She was moving so fast that it was the opposite of relaxing. When I asked her slow down (twice!) she responded by using even less pressure like she was confused what I was asking. I did the hot stone massage... a few other highlights included her ramming the stones into my hip bones and attempting to rub the stones into my shoulder bones. I ended up leaving half way through because it was so awful and they still tried to charge me! No one ever followed up after the ordeal to see what happened. I’ve had regular massages at home and at various resorts over the years - I am pretty easy to please... never have I had an experience like this.
As others have said, it goes seem that the quality of a Disney Cruise is slipping, they are cutting costs / corners and it’s very evident. It may no longer be worth a higher price for a DCL Cruise. Time to explore other options!