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View Full Version : How was your first cruise on DCL different than you had imagined/expected?


IvyandLace
03-20-2006, 12:21 AM
Most people on this board love to research and gain the opinion of those who have "been there, done that"-however, I thought it would be nice for us to share with each other how your "real" trip was in comparison with your "imagined" trip now that you're back! Did you find the stateroom smaller than imagined or had you looked at so many photos that you were surprised to find it spacious enough for all? ( ::yes:: ) What was your BIGGEST surprise/WORST disappointment onboard based on your pre-cruising expectations?

Gonna enjoy reading people's perspectives, expectations, and realities on DCL cruising!

IVY :wave:

Otimon
03-20-2006, 04:06 AM
The reality certainly exceeded just about all my expectations.

The one change I would enjoy would be to see larger gift shops and more varied shopping in them on board.

MariettaC
03-20-2006, 04:22 AM
I've been on a Disney cruise twice and other cruise lines before. My first experience on Disney was incredible. I went on a cruise to Alaska on Holland America and it didn't come close to the wonderful time on Disney. I'm waiting for the 2007 European itineraries to book my next Disney cruise. :boat:

MariettaC
03-20-2006, 04:24 AM
IvyandLace - Just saw Pirate Country under your name. I'm living in Washington NC. Where are you?

ricka47
03-20-2006, 05:38 AM
I think DCL has some of the friendliest crew members at sea. We found some on other lines to be less so. I was surprised to have our waitstaff call us by our first names which we haven't heard before on a ship and was not a big deal. Thus, DCL was less formal and that was expected as well. We were, however, surprised to see jeans and baseball hats in the dining room for dinner....but it didn't hurt our appetites at all!

The shows were even better than I had expected although I knew they would be good. Live music as other lines have would have made them even better. Perhaps that is simply not possible as an orchestra instead of just a band would be needed.

All in all, it was as I expected except that I thought that there would be better food. I had read that the food was just "so-so." Still, that was the biggest surprise and actually a disappointment. I kept waiting for the "wow, this is really good" and in seven nights, it didn't happen. Many on here have said, "what do you expect when they serve so many at a time?" I expected food as good as the other mainstream lines and it wasn't. It wasn't bad and most of it was good. A little extra seasoning and creativity would go a long way. For what DCL charges, their food should be as good as HAL, Princess, or Celebrity. If there is anything they need to work on to make the value equal to the price, it's the food.

We did Sunday bruch at Palo and that elicited some "wows" from us. In September on the 10-night Wonder, we'll do brunch again and at least one dinner as well to get some more "wows."

I think this is the best cabin we've ever had. For once, the three of us didn't use every single drawer and with my DW and DD13 in the cabin, that I did not expect!

lmok
03-20-2006, 05:56 AM
Way too much to mention. We wanted to something different but did not want to be let down since we loved the parks so much. We went ahead and did the land and sea so we would at least still have the memory of the parks. When we got off the ship my daughters cried all the way to the airport because they had so much fun and did not want to leave the ship. All they did was talk about being on the ship longer. In June we are going for 7 days and had not planned on going to the parks at all. My oldest daughter was struggling at school so I told her that if she could get her grades up we would spend the night before at French Quarters and go to the Magic Kingdom the Friday before. It Worked!!!! Still....The Magic continues on the ship but you are much closer. The sailaway and all of the deck parties it is like you are a part of it. Plus..We go to places that as a single mother I would never be able to experience with my children by myself. We also felt very very safe. It is truly the way to go.

:banana:

WDWLVR
03-20-2006, 05:58 AM
My first cruise on DCL was in 1999, my first cruise overall was in 1979. So I was pretty prepared for what to expect on a cruise ship. What blew me away on DCL was the elegant design. The ships are beautiful!

The other thing I wasn't expecting after cruising on other lines was how easy disembarkation was.

ricka47
03-20-2006, 06:10 AM
My first cruise on DCL was in 1999, my first cruise overall was in 1979. So I was pretty prepared for what to expect on a cruise ship. What blew me away on DCL was the elegant design. The ships are beautiful!

The other thing I wasn't expecting after cruising on other lines was how easy disembarkation was.

Yes, excellent point, the disembarkation was such a breeze. On most other lines everyone has to wait in the atrium listening for their number/color to be called. Then you go out into a zoo to search for your luggage.

On DCL you just leave when you are ready. That's why I don't understand why folks were lined up early in the morning (maybe just a Disney habit?). We waited until almost the last minute, strolled off, found our luggage right away, a porter took our luggage out to the car, and we were on the road literally minutes after walking off the ship. That was great!

lbgraves
03-20-2006, 06:29 AM
IvyandLace - Just saw Pirate Country under your name. I'm living in Washington NC. Where are you?

You are right up 43 from us here in NB. :)

lbgraves
03-20-2006, 06:32 AM
Our first cruise exceeded our expectations by leaps & bounds. We were spoiled by both our host & the servers. At first I was uncomfortable hearing Madame every night at dinner but we all got use to being treated like royalty. I never expected Cinderella to remember my kid's names when we saw her once or twice EVERY day on the ship!!! I had expected the kids to be afraid of the characters so when they weren't I was happy to be able to get all those great pictures. I also didn't expect us to rebook but DH surprised me 2 weeks after we had gotten off the ship. The first cruise was so wonderful that we were both worried about our reaction to the second. It was great too! :)

Skallywag
03-20-2006, 06:46 AM
We loved our cruise but the only thing was most people did not want to speak and we love meeting and talking to people from all over the world.
The staff were absolutely wonderful but apart from a couple of people no-one seemed to want to make conversation and this is the first time I have ever experienced this.

Everyone seemed to want to isolate themselves and we found this to be sad and very strange.

mrsltg
03-20-2006, 07:09 AM
We were definitely surprised by our first Disney cruise. I was very pleased with the staff - not surpirsed though as this is Disney. I was very surprised by the food - not in a good way. I was thrilled with the adult pool area and the Mickey pool, as well. DD spent a lot of time in the Mickey pool in the mornings before it became crowded. We were very surprised by the room service - the menu was fairly extensive for cruise room service and the things we tried were tasty. I was surprised by how unimpressed we were with Castaway Cay. It was nice, but not the island paradise I was expecting.

We're going on another 7-day in December '06. I am looking forward to this cruise as my expectations are more in line with reality. I don't think I'll be nearly as disappointed because the bar has been lowered considerably. It's important to remember that this is only a vacation, and not to set your hopes too high.

Cindi0511
03-20-2006, 07:24 AM
We had little to no planning time before our first cruise in 2003, and that probably worked to our favor. The MAGIC over-exceeded any ideas we conjured up in those three weeks beforehand. We loved the ribs at dinner on our first night, we adored Palo, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Along the way, if we didn't like the food, we just found something else. At the midnight buffet, my sister and I were the only ones still awake. We didn't want a ton of sugar, and we really wanted some fruit. Our assistant server, Manuel, grabbed our plates and started hunting for fruit on desserts and just took it off. (We made him stop so as not to ruin other guests' slices of dessert, but the thought was so nice.)

At $599 per person for a 7-nighter + tips, we made a killing on the price -- most certainly can't complain about that!!!All inclusive for about $100/night! :wizard: :wizard: :wizard:

Only thing that could have been better was not having to get off. :rolleyes: Fortunately we knew about the tipping before we got on and therefore were able to plan for it.

I can't wait to go back!

ricka47
03-20-2006, 07:29 AM
We're going on another 7-day in December '06. I am looking forward to this cruise as my expectations are more in line with reality. I don't think I'll be nearly as disappointed because the bar has been lowered considerably. It's important to remember that this is only a vacation, and not to set your hopes too high.

I guess that I have to ask why pay all that money and lower the bar? I'll admit that we're doing DCL now because the port is close and they are offering Florida resident discounts. So, I feel that we're getting good value for our money. If it wasn't for the discounts, I think that the lowering of the bar would make me wonder about the dollars I was spending and the value that we were receiving in return.

Heading to the bar sounds better than lowering the bar!

mrsltg
03-20-2006, 08:55 AM
I guess that I have to ask why pay all that money and lower the bar? I'll admit that we're doing DCL now because the port is close and they are offering Florida resident discounts. So, I feel that we're getting good value for our money. If it wasn't for the discounts, I think that the lowering of the bar would make me wonder about the dollars I was spending and the value that we were receiving in return.

Heading to the bar sounds better than lowering the bar!

Because DCL offers infant childcare outside of the stateroom. Also, our expectations were HIGH for our first cruise. It's not that it was bad, just didn't live up to the expectations. By lowering our expectations we'll have a better time rather than being disappointed.

mickeyfan1
03-20-2006, 09:11 AM
My first DCL cruise was December 2000. I had seen pictures of the ship decorated for Christmas, I had been told by the DCL rep how the service was excellent, the food gourmet, etc. I walked on the ship expecting the same service and atmosphere as I was used to at WDW. I was extremely disappointed. Our dining staff was the worst, the food was institutional and many of the crew and CMs seemed to act like they were really not happy to be there, much less help you out. I had been on at least 10 cruised prior so I did know what cruising was all about. I walked off that ship after 3 nights swearing that I would never sail DCL again. I did write my comments on my card, I don't know if they mattered. I have since done the 14 night Magic cruise, and I would say that the difference was like night and day. I was expecting it to be better, I was sailing with a huge group of friends, and it was better. Food and service for me were vastly improved. Both times I had a cat 11, I was expecting a larger cabin the first time, based on sailing Carnival and having a much larger room in their low category, but having been in one 11, I was surprised that my side entry 11 had more open floor space than the standard 11. I expected the food in Palo to be better than it was (on the Magic, didn't go on the Wonder), I didn't like the tea, either.

I sailed on HAL in 2001, I found the service to be excellent, the lounge staff knew my name and drink after the second visit, our waiter were excellent, as was our stateroom host. I have sailed on RCCL and can't remember anything except the excellent beach at Coco Cay and the fact that the pool was only one flight up from my room, so I got plenty of relaxing sun time.


Each cruise line offers a different experience, and each ship with in the line is also different. So what I might not like, others will love and vice versa.

Qball
03-20-2006, 09:30 AM
Just returned home from the March 4-11/06 7 night cruise. We did some extensive research on this site before we left, so we did have some expectations and almost all our expectations were met. However, I was a little dissappointed in the quallity of the everyday food. Had I not done our research, then I probably would have thought it was pretty good. But it wasn't horrible, we were just expecting more since alot of people on these boards ranted and raved about the food. However, I must say Palo got a wow from us! It was fabulous. We were only able to book one supper ressie online and was able to get 3 more while on board (cancelled the high tea since we went for brunch that day and it was a rough sea day and couldn't really enjoy the food.). Other than that, everything else was fantastic. We loved it so much we rebooked onboard for the same cruise and same time. We had pretty good servers. I did noticed other tables who had so so servers, so we were happy. We weren't impressed with the breakfast servers...seemed a little "green" but then everyone has to train sometime right?

It would have been nice to have a better selection and larger shopping on board...but then maybe not...we still bought more than planned :goodvibes

I found the photo way too expensive. Come on, their digital photos and you and I both know they're not worth 10 USD and 20 USD...even half that cost would have sufficed and they'd be making good coin on it.

The cleanliness of the boat was impressive. Stateroom was as expected..small but we knew that but layout was done very well for the space.

We went to WDW for a couple days after the cruise and absolutely hated it. No magic there for us. Waiting in long lines for 30 second meetings of characters, and long lines for rides that were no more than 2 minutes long or shows that were no more than 5 minutes long and walking and timing fast passes and rushing across the park to get to your fast pass ride, is NOT my idea of a relaxing holiday.

LisaSp
03-20-2006, 01:13 PM
I had done extensive research before our recent March 4-11 Eastern Magic. I set my expectations at a reasonable level so I would not be disappointed...and my expectations were met or exceeded on all counts. We loved the ship, the service, our room was bigger than I expected, the entertainment was awesome, kids had a blast at the club, character interactions were terrific, etc etc. The food was fine--I was not expecting it to be amazing--I thought it was good, not excellent for the most part. Anyway, we had a MAGICAL time and rebooked while on board as well.

UMTerp
03-20-2006, 02:10 PM
My first DCL cruise we before I knew about this board. I was overwhelmed by the number of people at the sailaway party! I thought, "Oh no, I made a big mistake" because I thought everything was going to be this crowded. It wasn't. I was poorly prepared for our first stop in Key West and couldn't find the places I was interested in because I didn't have a decent map. We traveled from cold weather and it was very hot in Key West in contrast. I wasn't prepared for the trouble I had when I re-boarded the ship in Key West to have security insist in putting my film and camera through x-ray. I asked for hand inspection but they refused. I was expecting it to be the same as the airports. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of our serving team. I did not rebook on board (mistake) and ended up rebooking a week after we got home. I could have saved some money if I realized that I could have rebooked onboard and gotten a refund if I changed my mind. We have cruised two more DCL cruises since then and are getting ready for a fourth!

Enjoy!

UMTerp

zweihund
03-20-2006, 03:58 PM
I desperately wanted to go on a cruise last year when friends showed us their photos from the Bahamas and Cozumel. They had sailed Carnival and said what a great deal it was. I passed it by my husband, a former Disney server.

We're going Disney, or we're not going at all.

I grumbled a little bit, but agreed to the stipulation. I had only ever cruised once before, on Carnival in my teens, so I expected a somewhat decent looking ship, some fun times in the sun, a crappy pool and lots of drunk people.

What I got was a fantastic looking ship, stellar service and individualized treatment, great food (I really enjoyed the vegetarian selections, usually the calibre of veggie food offered on vacation is not that great), great theatre, a beautiful private island, and very minimal disturbance by either unruly children (every child we encountered was very well behaved) or drunk people. I think I only saw one drunk person, and she was still fairly pleasant. Heh.

We loved the cabin, which was bigger than I expected. I also loved the spa. And Palo.......oh, Palo. And for a great surprise, they had gourmet teas! I'm a huge fan of loose tea and I was shocked to see a row of fine quality leaves at Cove Cafe.

We're officially DCL junkies now and would be reluctant to book elsewhere. :love:

mattmommy
03-20-2006, 06:06 PM
We're going on our 3rd cruise and "dragging" my extended aunts, uncles and cousins along. They've NEVER been on a cruise. It will spoil them.

Along with the creme brulee and Palo souffle I miss the "ninja" stateroom CM's. If you wash your hand and just ball up the towel, it will be straightened 1/2 hour later when you return. Your servers know what you drink and have it right away. They know your kids and what they like and what their nicknames are. I hate to say it, but sometimes it really spoils you for when you go to a hotel. We love fresh fruit and to have an endless supply of cut mangos and watermelon are wonderful.

PoohJen
03-20-2006, 07:27 PM
I expected my 7 day Eastern to be much more RELAXING than it was, but it turned out my kids spent far less time in the club than I expected, and far more time at the pool, which was disappointingly very crowded and very loud (LOL - yes, in my pre-cruise fantasies, I probably envisioned being the only one on the ship!) :rotfl:

BUT...we had a GREAT time and are going back this summer! :cloud9: (and I still have fantasies of quietly reading a book poolside - I'll never learn! But just maybe I'll actually get to sit by the adult pool this time! Far more quieter there!

OH! Another thing I didn't expect, but which turned out WONDERFUL, was the fun times I had, and lasting friendships I made, with my new friends from the DISboards!!! We went to several DISfriends' cabin parties (hey, what a bennie to make friends with suite passengers!) and a large group of us enjoyed a fabulous dinner in Palo's private room. Cheers, Dis Friends! :grouphug:

ThePhantomsGirl
03-20-2006, 07:38 PM
We loved our cruise but the only thing was most people did not want to speak and we love meeting and talking to people from all over the world.

Oh, wow - sorry that happened to you! One of the things I am most looking forward to is meeting all kinds of new people. If I'd been on your cruise, I'd have been happy to talk to you. :goodvibes Hopefully next trip you'll get happy, friendly people!!

BethA
03-20-2006, 07:45 PM
As a huge WDW fan I was skeptical about the first cruise we took on DCL and prepared not to like it. Instead we now prefer the cruise. We had a suite which exceeded our expectations, as did the dining room servers.

We have on some of our cruises been disappointed with the stateroom hosts-not bad service, but not the extra you hear about here, or the personal relationships made.
I was not as thrilled as most with the kids club--one cruise my son wouldn't leave the place, but when he moved up in age group everyone seemed to be with someone and he felt isolated and didn't want to go.

I was very disappointed in the cheese plate from room service. I had heard so much about it here and when I ordered it I thought it was a joke.

gowensby
03-20-2006, 08:15 PM
Our first cruise (July 2002) exceeded our expectations. I had cruised in the lates 1970's as a pre-teen and I remember that the ship was unimpressive, but not the Wonder! What an amazingly beautiful ship! The shows were so much better than I expected except for "Who Wants to be a Mousketeer." The host was great-but the whole presentation was mediocre. Our wait-staff was incredibly patient with the seven children under seven. Our only disappointment was with our childrens' reactions to Flounder's Reef. Our twins did not take to the counselors and so we were watching the boys a lot. (The cruise was a family reunion type event--so we didn't have a choice of not cruising with infants.) If I had to do it all over again I would--but I'd be better prepared to entertain the infants. My wife and I are sailing in July!

yazee1
03-20-2006, 09:27 PM
The reality certainly exceeded just about all my expectations.

The one change I would enjoy would be to see larger gift shops and more varied shopping in them on board.

I second both those things.

pppiglet
03-20-2006, 10:31 PM
I read this board for a whole year before we cruised and everyone's views were so high. So I guess I was underwhelmed when we cruised. It was a great cruise, but nothing Magical like everyone was posting. I had read good and bad about the food, but I really liked it all.

Now when I booked my Carnival cruise people were telling me how bad Carnival was, so when I cruised it totally exceeded my expectations and we had a great cruise! I guess it's all how you perceive it before you go.

Both lines had the same size room, both had the same quality food, both had the same friendly people to serve you. Disney had the better shows, but Carnivals were better than I expected. Disney had the Disboard people though and that made a big difference to us. Made meeting people all the more fun.

So, because of price..our next cruise on DCL will probably be our last unless we are absolutely WOWED by it then. We have never been to Castaway Cay since we did the West Coast cruise, but I am not going to set my expectations up too high for it. Just go and enjoy!

Michelle2
03-21-2006, 01:04 AM
I, too, had read these boards and started researching a good year and a half at least before our cruise this past November. But I am an obsesser and a planner, so I love doing that anyways---I'm crazy :crazy:
I knew alot before we left, knew what to expect, and everything pretty much went as planned. But to finally experience it....WOW. I cannot even describe the feeling of actually being there and living what you have been reading and fantasizing about for so long...LOL For me it was definitely an overwhelming experience, but in a great way! But I am the kind that felt butterflies at boarding, and sadness and tears at the farewell show!
For us, it was better than we expected. Even my DH was impressed (he is my biggest Disney critic) and our kids loved the kids clubs! Our servers were great, and even CMs who were cleaning rails, etc always smiled and said hello...this really surprised me.

The things that went wrong (which were not many), were all my own doing, like planning too many excursions on Castaway cay, etc. But that was the only thing I would do differently, and I will know better next time! It was DH idea to rebook on board, and alot sooner than we had planned, but we are really looking forward to it! :teeth: :thumbsup2

BuzzBoyMom
03-21-2006, 05:26 AM
I too read the boards so much that I expected things --- and they did happen, but the magic wasn't quite there for me. For the rest of my family - they didn't know what to expect so everything overly-exceeded their expectations. I can't say I was disappointed...only that I took some of the magic out of the moment b/c of my compulsive planning.

We're taking several friends and I'm very careful to just smile and tell them they will enjoy themselves...keeping the mystery waiting.

I loved the ship and I thought the food was good considering the quantity of people they were serving. The only real disappointment was our server team. They just were not attentive...and I mean I had to ask several times for a drink or to refill my wine. I remember thinking - at the rate they refilled the glassed, we wouldn't finish half the wine package we had purchased. But, we sat back and still enjoyed our dinner. Perhaps they were new.

minniebeth
03-21-2006, 11:17 AM
Before we cruised with DCL, we continually heard how wonderful it was, so when we decided to book a trip, we were very excited but tried not to have any expectations, it will be what it will be.

Things from what I was imagining (imagining is the key word here)...
the stateroom to be bigger that it was... I know DCL's cabins are larger than most ships but when you actually put 5 people in one cabin, I was like...not as big as I thought it would be...
The lines for the character meets were much longer than I imagined them to be...
Some wow, magical moments... there were no "shining" moments that stuck out, but an overall wow experience.

What I DIDN'T expect about the trip was that all my family would be immediately hooked beyond belief and wanted nothing more than to cruise DCL again and not even talk about anything else! I implored my DH to rebook onboard, but being the ultimate sales guru himself refused because he stated that it was an emotional buy, and that we will rebook when the time is right.
(I guess someone has to be the rational one, I'd be rebooking every month :rolleyes1 sorry kids, college? how about a Disney cruise instead! :rolleyes1 )

Overall, the whole trip exceeded my expectations since I kept them pretty much in check...
Oh yeah, the experience of going to Grills for dinner to watch the Magic sail out... totally exceeded my expecations...great food, great place, great fun!!!
:thumbsup2

stampinshauna
03-21-2006, 11:24 AM
I didn't know about the DISboards before our first cruise, so I didn't have as much info as many did. We had never cruised before and we absolutely LOVED it!!! It was better than we expected. We came home and missed the food, not having to prepare meals, always having good service, etc. We loved speding the week together. It was honestly the best vacation we've ever been on. One thing that suprised me is that we went to the parks for a couple days post-cruise and they were actually a bit of a let-down after the cruise (and I love the parks). I've decided that if I ever do the parks with another cruise, I'll do them before the cruise. I was also suprised that the week went by so quickly.

MeRiVan
03-21-2006, 01:09 PM
We thought the food would be better, but DH and I still managed to gain 5 lbs each on board. We could never have imagined how beautiful and well kept the ship would be. The thing that totally wowed us on a regular basis were the CMs. We were very spoiled by being treated so well. I am not an emotional person at all, but I got pretty misty eyed upon debarkation. It was like saying goodbye to good friends. Our biggest surprise was how much we miss the ship now that we're home.