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View Full Version : First DCL Cruise - A Comparison


ricka47
03-07-2006, 05:57 AM
We just got off the Magic a few days ago. We've been on RCI four times, and once each on Celebrity, Princess, and HAL. My wife and I are in our mid 50s and our daughter is 13 and typically we do ten or eleven night trips. We are big fans of Disney and are annual pass holders.

I have to say that, except for entertainment, the other lines that we've been on are all equal to or better than than DCL. However, it is true that DCL blows the others away in enterainment and, of course, they have what the the others don't have: the Disney ambience. The question is, how much should one pay for that ambience when you give up quality in other areas?

I'd order them this way from top to bottom:
1.) Celebrity
2.) Holland America
3.) RCI
4.) Princess
5.) DCL

I was expecting far better food in the dining rooms. It was good most of the time and just OK a few of the other times. No meal (except for the Sunday brunch at Palo's) could be termed excellent. I will say that the buffet food was better than expected and we ended up eating lunch there more often than we usually do because of the quality of the dining room offerings.

The dining room food was better, on average, than RCI (although RCI and the others beat DCL in the dessert category). The choices were limited and most items were rather bland. Celebrity, HAL, and Princess (in that order) do a much better job in the food category. Not once did we say, "wow, that's great!" Much of the fun of cruising involves food and when it is just "OK," some of the fun is removed.

I was also shocked at what people wear to dinner. Adults came to dinner in blue jeans, shorts, and t-shirts. I expected dress to be a bit more casual than other lines, but couldn't believe that jeans were allowed in the dining room on formal night!

But, having said that, we just booked the 10-Day cruise on the Wonder for this September. Living in NE Florida, Port Canaveral is so convenient and we can get nice Florida resident discounts. It's likely we will take along our 5 year-old grandaughter this time and this is where the differences between Disney and the other lines will be more advantageous as well.

If I had didn't have those advantages, we would be heading toward Celebrity or another line ASAP. For the price that most people have to pay for DCL, the money is better spent on other lines. I doubt that I'd consider DCL now unless there was a substantial discount.

WDWLVR
03-07-2006, 06:16 AM
Rick - thanks for your feedback. I've been on other lines as well and rank Disney #1, isn't it great that we all have the freedom of choice. Thank you for giving a respectful comparisson of the lines.


The one thing I'll agree with is the dress on DCL. It seems to have gotten more and more casual over the years. While I don't expect to see men in suits or women in long flowing gowns every night I kind of miss the dressier feel I've had on other lines.

Disney is still my choice.

Dreamer04
03-07-2006, 06:36 AM
Thank you for your honest, experienced opinion. My family and I are looking into an Alaskan cruise. Your top two choices are two of the companies we are checking out.

amesmom
03-07-2006, 10:29 AM
I have to agree that DCL is worth the extra money IF you have young children or you are Disney fanatics. We qualify on both counts. I think DCL can't be beat for the children's programming. But if children are older or you don't have children, you can certainly get more for your money at other cruiselines. As our children get older, we'll be looking at other cruiselines. Thanks for the opinion of an experienced cruiser.

I am disappointed to hear how casual the dress has become on DCL. It has been two years since our last cruise, and it sounds like the rules have become too relaxed. DH and I both enjoy dressing for dinner, and even our two DSs love putting on their suits for formal night.

SimplyMagical
03-07-2006, 05:21 PM
We just returned from our first cruise ever, which was on the Magic, and we loved it. I have to say, with all the stories in the news this week regarding the safety of cruises - Disney is the only cruise line I would choose with young teenage girls. I never once worried about my girls while on the Magic - it is all families, and no rowdy drinking crowds, casinos, etc. I thought the cost of the Disney cruise was well worth the feeling of safety and well being for my girls.

TDN323A
03-08-2006, 02:09 PM
Okay, don't want to be argumentative here, but I just don't "get" these posts where some people are "bothered" by others dressed more casually in the dining rooms. I just don't understand why what others are wearing would be of any concern at all. Jeans/shorts on formal night... ok, that I get a little, but beyond that, who cares?

And just curious, what's considered "worse"... dockers + polo shirt or jeans + long sleeve button down shirt?

kaceyisme
03-08-2006, 02:19 PM
ricka47 - thanks for the great comparison. I was especially interested in your post because, although we cruised DCL once in August (Wonder 4 nt.), and we are cruising again in August (Magic 7 nt.), we definitely will be choosing another cruise line for our next trip. We LOVE DCL, and we would cruise with them again, if only they would change the entertainment more frequently. We can't see going on DCL again and seeing the shows yet again. Thanks again!

Mjasp
03-08-2006, 03:42 PM
We just returned from our first cruise ever, which was on the Magic, and we loved it. I have to say, with all the stories in the news this week regarding the safety of cruises - Disney is the only cruise line I would choose with young teenage girls. I never once worried about my girls while on the Magic - it is all families, and no rowdy drinking crowds, casinos, etc. I thought the cost of the Disney cruise was well worth the feeling of safety and well being for my girls.

Please don't have a false sense of security because its Disney. Child molesters and rapists can be a guest on any ship and it can be any crew member.

And to the OP, Thanks for your review.

castlegazer
03-08-2006, 03:57 PM
Okay, don't want to be argumentative here, but I just don't "get" these posts where some people are "bothered" by others dressed more casually in the dining rooms. I just don't understand why what others are wearing would be of any concern at all. Jeans/shorts on formal night... ok, that I get a little, but beyond that, who cares?

And just curious, what's considered "worse"... dockers + polo shirt or jeans + long sleeve button down shirt?

It affects the ambiance. When you are cruising you are in a small village, basically - everyone is along for the same ride - it causes a sense of familiarity and you all have to live very close to one another. When the sense of formality to the formal nights is brought down to a level of "who cares" and people wear what they want, it does affect the feeling of the night for other cruisers. When one cruises, one knows there are formal nights and semi formal nights. If you do not want to participate there are other dining options.

I for one will be in my long gown, my 4 yo will be in his tux as will my husband. We like this aspect of cruising. I have no problem if people would like to dress less formally, but a showing of some dress or a shirt and tie is at the very least what is expected on the formal nights.

I have been on a cruise where everyone wore what they wanted - although the line had stricter dress codes than DCL does, and it was horrible. Absolutely horrible. The fact that people blatantly disregarded the dress codes also was an indication of their general attitude about the cruise - it was their vacation and they were going to damn well do what they pleased wherever they pleased.

To the OP, thanks for your review. We have been on most of the same lines as you have and this will be our first DCL cruise. I have already set expectations low on food, high on service, and lower on the overall amenities to the ship versus the newer ships of other lines. I am cruising DCL to cruise with the Mouse. I Love Disney and have been waiting a very long time to go on DCL - ever since the Magic replaced the Big Red Boat. I am more than a little excited right now. More excited than I have been for any previous cruise - which was just a vacation - this cruise will be a cruise of immersion in all things Disney with that Disney flair for the greatest entertainment. :hyper: SO EXCITED!!!! :yay: SO EXCITED!!!!!!:yay:

SimplyMagical
03-08-2006, 06:18 PM
Please don't have a false sense of security because its Disney. Child molesters and rapists can be a guest on any ship and it can be any crew member.

And to the OP, Thanks for your review.

I certainly did not have a false sense of security and I am fully aware that child molester and rapists can of course be a guest on any cruise - my point was - there is certainly a different crowd cruising disney vs. other cruise lines. Disney is not going to attract the crowd just going to get drunk everyday, etc.! Have you heard Disney Cruise line mentioned in any of the Today show specials the past two weeks on the topic of "the safety of cruise lines"?? :confused3 Not once.

Mjasp
03-08-2006, 06:20 PM
To the OP, thanks for your review. I have already set expectations low on food, high on service, and lower on the overall amenities to the ship versus the newer ships of other lines. I am cruising DCL to cruise with the Mouse. I Love Disney and have been waiting a very long time to go on DCL - ever since the Magic replaced the Big Red Boat. I am more than a little excited right now. More excited than I have been for any previous cruise - which was just a vacation - this cruise will be a cruise of immersion in all things Disney with that Disney flair for the greatest entertainment. :hyper: SO EXCITED!!!! :yay: SO EXCITED!!!!!!:yay:

And because of your attitude, you will LOVE Disney. I hope you have a great time
Enjoy
Joanna

Mjasp
03-08-2006, 06:24 PM
I certainly did not have a false sense of security and I am fully aware that child molester and rapists can of course be a guest on any cruise - my point was - there is certainly a different crowd cruising disney vs. other cruise lines. Disney is not going to attract the crowd just going to get drunk everyday, etc.! Have you heard Disney Cruise line mentioned in any of the Today show specials the past two weeks on the topic of "the safety of cruise lines"?? :confused3 Not once.

Actually I haven't been able to watch it, that dam thing called work stopped me LOL But you have to remember they only have 2 ships, so if you do the statistics of RCCL, Carnival Corp etc, DCL shouldn't be mentioned.

newfamilyman
03-08-2006, 10:01 PM
Okay, don't want to be argumentative here, but I just don't "get" these posts where some people are "bothered" by others dressed more casually in the dining rooms.

I absolutely agree. While people-watching is more fun on formal nights when people are dressed up, it is unfair and unreasonable to expect everyone to do it. Some people enjoy dressing up, and others don't. For those who don't, or don't feel like inflicting that on their families, why should they be so condemned?

ricka47
03-09-2006, 05:03 AM
We just returned from our first cruise ever, which was on the Magic, and we loved it. I have to say, with all the stories in the news this week regarding the safety of cruises - Disney is the only cruise line I would choose with young teenage girls. I never once worried about my girls while on the Magic - it is all families, and no rowdy drinking crowds, casinos, etc. I thought the cost of the Disney cruise was well worth the feeling of safety and well being for my girls.

Except perhaps for Carnival, the typical cruisers on DCL appeared to be no different than those that you would find on the other major lines with perhaps the exception of HAL which typically has an older population.

I have a 13-year old daughter and would take the same precautions on Disney as on any other line.

castlegazer
03-09-2006, 10:58 AM
I absolutely agree. While people-watching is more fun on formal nights when people are dressed up, it is unfair and unreasonable to expect everyone to do it. Some people enjoy dressing up, and others don't. For those who don't, or don't feel like inflicting that on their families, why should they be so condemned?

I'll say one more thing on this at this time - would you go to Victoria & Alberts in less than their suggested attire? When it is formal night on the cruise ships, the fact that there is not a separate dining room for formal evening versus every evening does not change the fact that these dining rooms change their expected attire for that evening. It's as if the dining room has become Victoria & Alberts for the evening.

The fact that you don't want to dress to the suggested attire, though, will not prevent you from coming into the dining room on the cruise like it would at V&A's, but it should make one think of alternative locations for dining that evening. Now if you were turned away from V&A's for not having a tie on, would you state that they were condemning you or would you simply change your dining location to more meet what you wanted to wear or do for that evening?

repeatcruiser
03-09-2006, 11:19 AM
Nicely said Castlegazer - no one should be forced to weat a tux, but likewise, blue jeans and baseball caps aren't quite right either (I was taught that gentelmen removed their hats inside, and I'm not that old). Just back from western on the Magic - the fact that some dressed very casually did not ruin our fun, but I do find it a bit odd that the DCL Navigator feels compelled to spell out that formal attire does not include swimwear or shorts. We're becomming increasingly informal in business and as a society, so I guess that I should not be surprised that it spills over into cruising as well - just a little dissappointed that "formal night" on such a majestic ship really isn't very formal.

ricka47
03-09-2006, 11:29 AM
Indeed, it is a societal issue. Gentlemen should remove their hats indoors; especially in elevators and at dinner. While it does not ruin an evening, it lessens the experience to eat escargot and lobster while seeing someone wearing a "Megadeath" t-shirt at a nearby table!

repeatcruiser
03-09-2006, 11:51 AM
While it does not ruin an evening, it lessens the experience to eat escargot and lobster while seeing someone wearing a "Megadeath" t-shirt at a nearby table!

Perhaps a Led Zeppelin or Beatles t-shirt we could live with!

ricka47
03-09-2006, 12:00 PM
:confused3 Shows how much I know....it's spelled Megadeth.

repeatcruiser
03-09-2006, 12:06 PM
Shows how much less I know - I didn't notice!

LongIslandMouse
03-10-2006, 09:56 AM
Castlegazer and repeatcruiser, all good points! My dh hates to dress in a monkey suit, but it's such a special occasion *to us* that it's worth the extra effort. To see others looking like they could care less just wrecks the "mood". They offer such a great buffet, why not just hit that if you don't feel like dressing up on that ONE night? Personally, I would feel out of place with everyone else dressed to the nines and I came in sporting kahkis. :rolleyes:

LongIslandMouse
03-10-2006, 09:58 AM
Oh, Ricka47, thanks for the review! We will be shopping around for our '07 venture :)

minneapolismickey
03-10-2006, 08:37 PM
We leave 2 weeks from tomorrow for our first cruise. I am excited to see my young DS's and DH dressed in their tuxes. There are so few occasions for us to use our "A" manners and dress up. I am a little disappointed to hear that so many will downplay formal night. It is one of the reasons that I picked the cruise over yet another WDW vacation. I guess I better be ready for the fact that many will not be in floor length dresses and tuxes on the cruise!

(By the way...the kids' tuxes are cheaper on ebay than a pair of khakis and tie from the GAP and my floor length dress was cheaper than almost anything that I wear to work...so expense is really not the issue if one is creative)!

LisaSp
03-12-2006, 06:03 PM
Just returned from the Eastern Magic--on our formal night, my dad, DH, and DS (5) all wore tuxes. My mom, DD (6.5), and I wore gowns. While we did notice many who were not as dressed up, it did not affect OUR good time. We enjoyed being dressed up and taking lots of photos. I always say I would rather be overdressed than underdressed, but honestly, I didn't notice whether we were in the minority or not. The only thing attire-wise that we consistently noticed was a gentleman who wore a baseball cap EVERY NIGHT to dinner. It drove my dad crazy (I am 36 and I thought it was tacky too).

minneapolismickey
03-13-2006, 06:40 PM
Lisasp-

Thanks so much for your input. I can't wait to see my family in tuxes. It makes me happy as I prepare for our journey in less than two weeks. You're absolutely right-I won't pay attention to others and certainly won't let the casual dress effect our experience. Hope that you and your family had a great time!

MeRiVan
03-14-2006, 12:39 PM
I noticed last week on formal night that many people looked fabulous and the people who wore denim to dinner sort of stood out. I wouldn't say formal night was compromised really. We felt formal and had a great time with it and the photos from that evening are the best we've had taken since our wedding.

Mr508MA
03-18-2006, 06:07 AM
I'll say one more thing on this at this time - would you go to Victoria & Alberts in less than their suggested attire? When it is formal night on the cruise ships, the fact that there is not a separate dining room for formal evening versus every evening does not change the fact that these dining rooms change their expected attire for that evening. It's as if the dining room has become Victoria & Alberts for the evening.

The fact that you don't want to dress to the suggested attire, though, will not prevent you from coming into the dining room on the cruise like it would at V&A's, but it should make one think of alternative locations for dining that evening. Now if you were turned away from V&A's for not having a tie on, would you state that they were condemning you or would you simply change your dining location to more meet what you wanted to wear or do for that evening?

Hello fellow MASS'er, we recently returned from the Magic Western 2/24-3/4.
If it wasn't for the fact of our Servers being so nice, I probably would have eaten in the dining room 1 night.
I am not a "get dressed up guy", nor am I a "sit thru a fancy meal", did both for too many years, being in a food business. I just wanted a cruise that i can eat when ever i want, and buffet is usually my favorite choice... well that doesn't happen on DCL after 2PM. Would have loved to of found a Salad Bar.
I was disapointed to not to be able to find an eveing buffet, or a place to eat that I could where shorts that was open before 6pm (besides the burger or pizza stop)

My other disapointment was AM Coffee, I met 20 people a day before 6AM trying to get a morning coffee. The coffee maker on deck 9 Soda station is set on a timer to start at 6AM... I rise at 4:30-5 everyday... even on vacation & enjoy a fresh coffee sometime soon after.... The timer heats the machine at 6AM, and it's not fresh... it's what was left from the night before. During the first few mornings of waiting til 6, I met a lot of people trying to get the same early coffee. 3rd day on, I would order a couple coffee crafe for a 5am delivery, then go sit at coffee maker on deck 9 & share my crafe.
For a NewEnglander, it's heaven to sit outside on a Feb morning in shorts & have a coffee...

Outside of that, the shows, service, entertainment was fun. We did not book another year.. it will be a few years before we do Disney again. [There was 11 in our party & all felt the same]

I did join the Vacation club :teeth:

clovely
03-18-2006, 06:24 AM
The fact that you don't want to dress to the suggested attire, though, will not prevent you from coming into the dining room on the cruise like it would at V&A's, but it should make one think of alternative locations for dining that evening. Now if you were turned away from V&A's for not having a tie on, would you state that they were condemning you or would you simply change your dining location to more meet what you wanted to wear or do for that evening?

This is really OT and should be a different thread. But I can't resist. I totally agree. The problem is that we (as a society) have come to see everything as our "right" - whatever we want. People pay a lot (relative term) of money and want to go to Palo so they think they have the right to go wearing whatever they darn well please. I think it's a crude, classless attitude but, unfortunately, I'm realizing it's more the norm than the appreciation of standards that used to be expected.

ricka47
03-18-2006, 06:39 AM
This is really OT and should be a different thread. But I can't resist. I totally agree. The problem is that we (as a society) have come to see everything as our "right" - whatever we want. People pay a lot (relative term) of money and want to go to Palo so they think they have the right to go wearing whatever they darn well please. I think it's a crude, classless attitude but, unfortunately, I'm realizing it's more the norm than the appreciation of standards that used to be expected.

True, the "it's my vacation and I'll do what I want" attitude is fine within the standards that have been set. Wearing a baseball cap, jeans, or shorts on formal night in the dining rooms on a cruise is not proper. I don't like putting on that tux, but once it's done, I'll admit that I look pretty spiiffy for an old guy and my wife and daughter look beautiful.

I expected DCL to be less formal than other lines that we've sailed and it was. That is OK. We were surprised that our waitstaff referred to us by our first names but we got used it. But that informal attitude was also seen in the manners of many of the passengers as well and was often expressed improperly.

Those in charge of the dining rooms need to enforce the standards and I've seen it done on other lines. But, it's not the job of DCL to teach people manners and evidently we, as a society, have ceased to do so.

I've read on here, "what does it matter to you what other people do?" We're all on the same boat. When I get run over by a mass of teenagers running up and down the stairs or have to listen to their foul language in front of my daughter, it matters. Obviously this is not just a DCL problem, but one of our entire society.

Qball
03-20-2006, 10:46 AM
We just got back from our 7 night eastern DCL cruise and it was our first cruise ever. when we were first planning our holiday, it started with WDW. We got the books, DVD and then thought, "holy cow" this sounds tiring and stressful...and way too huge. We have a DD4. Then looked into a bit smaller, so Disneyland. And it was cheaper. We were almost ready to book and DH finally pipes up and says he really doesn't want to do just Disney...he wanted tor relax and go to a beach. We were going to do DL for 3 days, seaworld and the beach at ...oh I forget now, then we heard about DCL. It seemed to be the best of all worlds for all of us...DH gets his beach and sun (I don't care for beaching or sun), I get my Disney fix that I've alwaysa wanted since I was a kid and well DD didn't really care as long as she saw Ariel and Pooh bear. Although, a bit more than we liked to spend, we loved it. It was perfect. We did hit WDW for a couple days after and hated it. And hated it for the very reason we cancelled that idea in the first place. DD still talks about the boat and loved it. We saw Pooh bear at WDW and that was the only thing she talked about for WDW and has yet to say she wants to go back there. In fact, she told us yesterday she wants to move to "slorida"...

We did look at other cruiselines but the programming and entertainment "seemed" better on DCL. I would like to try the other cruiselines some other day maybe when the kids are a little older. I wasn't all that impressed with the food on DCL either except for Palo. It was good but not excellent.

As for the dress code issues that alot of you have been talking about on this thread, you have to give people the benefit fo the doubt as well. Had I not been on this site, I would have NEVER known there were themed nights. I would ahve packed our swimwear and casual clothes...summer kahkis and capri pants, skirts, shorts. Dh does not own a tux and we would have never thought to bring a suit or dress clothes. As this was our first cruise, how would we know? Good thing I was directed to this website. However that said, it was nice to see people all dressed up but I didn't bother me to see people NOT dressed up. In fact, on our cruise, I never saw any of the ladies all decked out in ballgowns. There were a few tuxes but wouldn't say their lady counterparts were dressed to match the tux.

We enjoyed it alot and rebooked the same cruise, same time next year. We are hoping to convince Grandma and pa to come along with us this time. We had my brother this time and he seemed to enjoy himself...he really didn't babysit for us except for the even DH and I went to Palo but then we were having so much fun together that we didn't need the "kid break". DD was only in the kids club for 1.5 hours when DH and I went to Palo for lunch and uncle was pooped and needed a nap. If we go March 2007 we'll ahve a 5.5 month old, hence booking the same cruise. Can't wait...it's too long. Thanks to all on this board for all the great tips, and opinions.

amesmom
03-20-2006, 03:57 PM
Just back from the 3/11 - 3/18 Western. Have to agree that the food is good, but not excellent. The exception is Palo. That said, I ate an absolutely ridiculous amount of food on this trip.

I give DCL the thumbs up for kids programming. Even though my DSs didn't use it all that much, they did really enjoy their time in the club and lab. Mostly, they wanted to hang out as a family (You can tell they are younger and still want to spend time with mom and dad). We spent loads of time at the pools, Ocean Quest, and shows. DS8 insisted on hitting absolutely every show and loved each one. Entertainment on DCL is top-notch. Although you do have to be a Disney fan to enjoy it night after night (which we are).

On the subject of dress code--I posted earlier that I was disappointed that the dress had become so casual. I have to say now that I've been on the cruise, that it just didn't affect our family's enjoyment of the cruise. I can honestly say that I didn't notice those who were not dressed up. But there were several empty tables on formal night. Maybe folks who preferred not to dress up just opted for Topsiders or room service. I DID notice those who were dressed extra nice. Some great looking families on board and the kids all looked so cute.

All in all, we would love to cruise DCL exclusively until the kids are older, but the cost is prohibitive. We have lots of other fun vacations planned, and will just have to squeeze in DCL as the budget allows. DCL is worth the extra $$ for some, but not for others. Thanks to the OP for the info on other cruise lines.

BuzzBoyMom
03-24-2006, 05:30 AM
I completelly agree with you about the dresscode. Recommended attire is recommended for a reason....it does create the ambiance. We dress up - suits and dresss...never tuxes. We look forward to it and no one in my family has a problem with it. But I would also say, while I did see people in very casual dress, I was usually too involved with the people, the conversation, the food and the general stuff going on in the dining rooms to stare and let it bother me. I actually felt bad for the children in teh families who dressed down b/c they didn't have a choice. Anyway, I wish everyone could try to work together and follow the policies, but....some peole are just rude.

mikiclements
03-25-2006, 07:50 AM
I am with you Mr. 508. The a.m. coffee service on deck 9 Wonder was also pitiful.
We are not dressy folks either and having been on the Disney Cruise 4 times, we know not to eat in the dining rotation. The food is terribly bland or just plain terrible in some cases and nothing to write home about, so we just relax and get pizza or room service. (until disney decides to hire a cook) We do love the entertainment! It's the only reason we go back. That and Castaway Cay. My family loves the island and all of the activities.

mattmommy
03-25-2006, 03:06 PM
The men usually wear nice suits and the ladies nice dresses (something you could wear to a wedding) on formal night and nice sundresses and khakis on casual nights. It seemed crazy to get tuxes for one night. This year it's change. DH and other men in the family bought tuxes at JCPenney for $99. Got our DS5 a tux on ebay--brand new $17. Not bad. Ok, I also bought a formal gown for formal night and a fancy dress for our Palo night. Other days will be a nice outfit, but casual.

I know it's a lot of money for some people and they don't have suits/fancy dresses, but again, please, no Megadeth (or Megadeath) shirts. If my Grandmother were alive she would smack that hat right off somebody's head in the dining room.

We only wear the fancier stuff for dinner anyway and then change into casual stuff to go dancing.

With that said we're really looking forward to Pirate night. If you're on the July 1st cruise and see a bunch of 14 laughing people it's probably us. Pull up a chair and join us.