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If you cruise with your children or are someone who has cruised before who is considering taking your kids on a cruise and you are considering DCL, PLEASE do yourself a favor and read this before making a decision. I must warn you folks ... Read More
If you cruise with your children or are someone who has cruised before who is considering taking your kids on a cruise and you are considering DCL, PLEASE do yourself a favor and read this before making a decision. I must warn you folks this review be lengthy..... I recently returned from a 7 day voyage on the Disney Magic (sailing 9/18). This was my 9th cruise on my 6th cruise line so I have a pretty good idea of what is out there as far as cruising products go and also what I like (and don't). Since I have cruised on Celebrity more than any other cruise line (and thus far like them best) my thoughts on my DCL trip are based on a comparison of how they measure up (or don't) to Celebrity. In a nutshell, I felt that as a Disney experience this rated about a 3 (on a scale of 5) and as a cruise it rated a 2. And honestly, that opinion has nothing to do with Hurricane Jeanne. First let's start with what we liked. The cabin was perfect. For two adults and one child, our cabin was the perfect size. We booked an outside stateroom guarantee and were upgraded to a verandah cabin so we were fairly pleased with that. There was more storage and drawer space in this cabin than any other stateroom I have ever seen - including a suite on Celebrity. I liked the concept of the split bath (toilet and sink in one bathroom, tub and sink in another), however in practice, the toilet room was quite small and sometimes hard to maneuver especially if in a gown while making one last bathroom break on formal night. The shows: Hercules was probably the best show I have ever seen at sea, the Golden Mickey's was close behind. Lots of folks had raved about Disney Dreams - maybe it was too hyped up for me but I was pretty much underwhelmed by that particular show. Now on to the things I didn't like.... The layout of the ship: On a ship with 2700 people where every third person is pushing a stroller of some sort, it makes no sense to me to only be able to traverse the length of the ship on ONE side! On decks 3, 4 and 5, what I would call the "main" decks, that contain the dining rooms, the lounges, shops, theaters etc - one can only travel from the fore to the aft of the ship on the port side. There are no walkways to be found starboard. The walkways that are available on the port side are only maybe two or three people wide so if you are walking with your partner and another couple is coming from the opposite direction, the two couples must then walk single file in order to pass one another. And on deck 4, between mid ship and aft is the photo gallery which at various times during the cruise would be closed completely - meaning that on deck 4 you could NOT get to the aft of the ship - you had to back track to a stairwell and go either down to 3 or up to 5. More on the layout: I found the Lido/buffet area to be entirely too small for the number of people on this ship. There were 4 buffet lines up on deck nine and I would be surprised if there were 20 tables set up indoors for people to get out of the sun and heat and enjoy lunch - plenty of tables outside, but not nearly enough inside for the number of people on the ship. They did also serve buffet lunch on deck 3 in their Parrot Cay restaurant but if you and your family are enjoying a sea day in the pools, hiking 6 flights of stairs down to lunch is not really practical. The stairs, or more accurately the elevators. Very very very very slow. Not sure if it is due to the number of people maneuvering strollers in and out of them or what but the main theme of this cruise was pressing the button for the elevator, waiting 10 minutes then finally saying "screw it - let's just take the stairs". The tag in the elevators claims to hold 12 people. This may be true, if the 12 people are all under the age of 5. IMHO, these elevators hold 4, possibly 5 adults comfortably, as in, you are not concerned about stepping on anyone's toes or if you applied enough deodorant that day. The pools on DCL, unlike other cruise ships I have sailed, are fresh water. They are not however chlorinated, judging by the lack of visibility in the water. Unsure what method they employ (or don't) to keep their pools clean but what ever it is they need to consider another option because they were fairly dirty with very cloudy water most of the trip. The Mickey pool is certainly not big enough for the number of kids on this ship and even when not overcrowded you STILL couldn't see Mickey's face at the bottom because the water was so cloudy. The Goofy pool same thing only larger kids. The "Quiet" Cove adult pool? Hardly! While not crowded really it is located RIGHT BENEATH the ship's horn! So that means every day at noon, the adults trying to enjoy a QUIET relaxing sea day by the adults only pool get their ear drums ruptured by When You Wish Upon a Star! Quiet - yeah right. More on pools - or lack of. No Spa Pool! My husband and I completely enjoy the thalassotherapy pools on Celebrity and were disappointed to not find one or something similar on DCL. Also, the spa treatments did not really appeal to us, not a large variety and their prices seemed higher than other cruise lines...After a full summer with Hannah home with me all day everyday, I was looking forward to getting pampered in the spa and having a bit of respite and relaxation for me and didn't feel I would be getting a good value for my money and I would be better off getting my spa treatments on land. Ahhh......relaxation for Mommy. Let's talk about the children's activities. To say I was disappointed in the activities on DCL is a huge understatement. Five year old Hannah's first cruise was September 2003 on the Celebrity Galaxy. A 10 day Western Caribbean cruise out of Baltimore. Everyday on the Galaxy she woke up BEGGING to go to the kids club. When we picked her up at noon for lunch and a little nap, she could not wait to return. Every evening we asked her if she wanted to eat with Mommy and Daddy in the fancy restaurant or if she wanted to eat in kids club and every single night kids club beat out Mommy and Daddy - which was actually kind of nice because that means every night I got a nice quiet, romantic meal with my husband. Hannah never asked to go the kids club on DCL and often did not want to stay very long once there. One nice option on DCL was that every parent who registered their child for the programs received a pager. If Hannah wanted to leave the kids club she just let a counselor know and they would send us a text message. She wanted to be picked up, a lot. And honestly, I can't really blame her. It seemed like every time we went to get her the kids were all lined up in front of a giant TV screen watching a movie! Maybe my expectations were too high for the DCL kids club. Based on their advertising and the fact everyone gives them 4 or 5 stars in their reviews AND the fact they don't have to pay licensing fees, I figured the Disney Characters would be an integral part of the kids club activities. Maybe a Princess Story Hour where each day a different Princess comes in a reads her story to the children or leads them in a craft related to their story. Or have Goofy do some "Olympics" type games. Or at least have Captain Hook run the How to Be a Pirate activity. In order for Hannah to have any kind of character interaction I had to stop what I was doing, go retrieve her from the kids club and wait in line to see a character often for 20 minutes or more. The character appearances, IMHO were more about the photographers taking pictures for people to buy than about children having a once in a lifetime moment with their favorites. As far as the more traditional aspects of cruising go, food and service, I was also completely unimpressed and downright displeased with most of it. I have decided I do not like the policy of only having my stateroom tended twice a day, morning and night. I like on X how if I leave my room for five minutes someone has gone in and re-hung towels, replenished water and ice, etc. It took us a total of FIVE phone calls our first day on DCL to establish that we wanted water and ice in our stateroom all day every day. Apparently our room steward can only handle ice and not a pitcher of water as well, that must come from room service. And then once we established with room service to just bring the ice water every day they wouldn't stop bringing it - even at 11 o'clock at night with the Privacy Please sign on our door. Why even have these signs if they are ignored? On DCL, as on HAL, I am not sure I could pick my room steward out of a police line up. He/she (not even sure which it was) never took a moment to introduce themself to us and let us know they would be taking care of us and if we needed anything to call. If you want to receive above the suggested tip amount then spend less time making towel animals and more time making sure I know at least what you look like! Our service in the dining room was very good and in line with what I expect to receive on a cruise ship however the food very much was not. Breakfast was fine and dandy and lunch was okay. Dinner, except for the specialty restaurant, was disappointing. When I dine on a cruise ship, I have to come to expect a meal that I would normally pay around $100-$150 per couple on land. A Ruth's Chris experience if you will. The choices were unimaginative and poorly prepared. I loathe the rotating dining concept. The only restaurant who's dEcor was even close to being what I expect on a cruise was Lumiere's. Parrot Cay was like eating in a Bahama Breeze's or tropical themed Outback Steakhouse. The light show in Animators Palate? Please spend more time and money on the cuisine and less on this "show". In all three restaurants, my rear was treated to vinyl seats. I understand the number of young children who may spill food or not control their bladders but when I am wearing a silk formal gown, I would prefer to sit someplace that does NOT make my butt sweat! Palo's - now THIS was more like it! We were able to dine there on two separate nights and both were heavenly. The first night I had a rack of lamb that was so good I ate it very slowly because I did not want the meal to end! I am unsure why this level of cuisine is reserved only for the specialty restaurant. Can't you just make Palo's executive chef in charge of everything else too so I can have more than 2 nights of wonderful dining?!?!? I missed afternoon tea. We did not attend tea at Palo's and I am sorry to have missed it, it may have been more like what I expect. We did wait on line the first day to get tickets for Tea with Wendy Darling. I am not sure I can put into words what a complete waste of time this event was. The "tea" was cold, as in iced tea. And rather than little cucumber sandwiches and proscuitto (sp?) wrapped melon balls and other tea like foods I have come to expect from Celebrity and even the Royal Dutch tea on HAL there was a plate with 3 or 4 overcooked, unflavorful chocolate chip cookies. Again this event was about the ship's photo crew taking pictures for you to purchase. As mentioned, our cruise was affected by Hurricane Jeanne. We hit 8-13 ft seas and even though our cabin was great in size it was horrible for noise, as we tossed and turned with the seas our room creaked so much I was afraid it was going to come apart at the seams! On Thursday the Captain announced we would not be calling on Castaway Cay on Friday due to Jeanne's proximity to the Bahamas. I was mildly disappointed, but it is what it is, this was not something that could be controlled by anyone on earth. By Friday afternoon the Captain announced that Port Canaveral would be closing at midnight that night and we would be disembarking the ship around 10:30 pm that night. DCL provided lodging for all passengers at the Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan resorts and provided bus transportation to WDW and breakfast Saturday morning. DCL has offered us 50% off of our next voyage which I find generous considering we paid for, and received, 7 nights of lodging and food. It just so happens the final nights lodging was at the Dolphin (in a Sweet Sleeper bed - BONUS!) I understand and appreciate the need to get us off the ship so they could put back out to sea for the safety of the crew and the vessel BUT, I am unsure if disembarking a ship full of young children, toddlers and infants at 11:00pm was the best idea. It was 2 am before we got into bed that evening and a good portion of the children on board we poorly behaved even with a full 8 hours of sleep! I am unsure if we will take DCL up on their offer for 50% off our next cruise. Even at half price I feel it may be too high. Maybe a 3 night to get to see Castaway Cay. But honestly for my money, if we want to give Hannah a Disney experience we will take her to the parks for a week and if we want to go on a cruise, we will go on a real cruise line that we know will meet or exceed our expectations Read Less

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