We decided on this cruise for our 4 grandchildren and their parents because they have wanted to cruise for a long time, and it was short so we could see if they would enjoy a cruise. It was too quick. Turns out they love cruising--at ... Read More
We decided on this cruise for our 4 grandchildren and their parents because they have wanted to cruise for a long time, and it was short so we could see if they would enjoy a cruise. It was too quick. Turns out they love cruising--at least on Disney.
Disney did a superb job with customer service, cleanliness, activities, and food. Of course, since it's Disney, there are lots of kids. After the first day, when everyone was getting on and figuring out the ship and getting to their rooms, things calmed considerably.
I also want to give Disney grand credit for the way they handled children with disabilities. As a former special needs teacher, I was so happy to see that they go out of their way to give these kids and their parents a super vacation. When they got character pictures made, the photographers took extra time so parents didn't feel rushed with their children who might need specific poses or time in and out of wheelchairs. They made sure they could ride the Aquaduck. They made sure they could get in the pools. These employees did such good work with these children.
The customer service is almost above and beyond other lines. My husband and I have cruised Princess, Holland, and RCL. Those are great lines, but I believe Disney has better food, better looking ships, and better customer service. The service shows up particularly in the dining rooms. Our waiters at night, Alex and Santiago, were at their top-notch best with the kids and the adults. No request was ever turned down. They kept the kids laughing and served early so that they didn't get to bored with the long dinner.
Certainly through no fault of Disney we didn't get to do a lot at Castaway Cay. The wind and seas didn't cooperate. No parasailing, no water trikes, no snorkeling so the kids mainly swam. They were disappointed as were we, but again, this is no one's fault.
As many have said in their reviews, the pools are small. It seems Disney could make the pools a little larger so more could get in. There is no room for swimming which is understandable with so many kids, but it was at times shoulder to shoulder.
The clubs were fun, well managed, and they can locate your children at an exact spot when you come to get them due to the bracelet the children wear. Incredible! My 12 year old grandson loved his independence on the ship and making new friends.
A complaint I would have, and others I talked to on the ship had the same complaint, is that Pirate Night comes at the very late end of the day on Castaway Cay. Everyone was exhausted. Many kids were in tears by 10:30 when the party started. The fireworks were a great added touch, but many of us were wondering why the party couldn't have started at 9 or so since it's dark by then. Also on the last night, Pirates of the Caribbean didn't start until 10:45 pm. You must have your luggage outside by 10:30 pm, and it's a very early morning with breakfast at 6:45 a.m.
I loved the disembarkation process. Go to an assigned dining room--no buffet or room service--eat, get off the ship. No waiting for your number to be called as you sit in an auditorium or bar somewhere. We were off and through customs by 8:30 a.m.
Disney is more expensive, but there are free sodas, ice cream, wonderfully varied and well prepared food in the dining rooms and in the Cabanas buffet (kids can have chicken tenders, mac and cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs as many times as they like), incredible people serving passengers, officers visible, a great many activities for kids in and out of the clubs, friendly characters who go above and beyond as their characters, patience with young children, and a beautiful, clean ship. They provided us with a couple of things we had forgotten and checked us in to our return flight and printed boarding passes.
It's also worth noting that although the photos are expensive, when you take your children to the character meets, you can take your own pictures, and the photographers get out of your way and let you take your own photos.
I think it goes without saying that since Disney ships are kidcentric, go with patience in mind knowing that everyone is there to have a good time. Yes, there are lots of kids just like yours who want to participate in everything, and they do make some noise. Happy noise! Read Less