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Old 09-04-2009, 01:19 PM  
Earning My Ears
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 4

Major systematic problems with Oceaneer's club

We just got back from a 4 night cruise on the Disney Wonder and have to say what would have otherwise been an excellent cruise was completely soured by our experience with the Oceaneer's club on the ship.

While we understand that individual experiences will vary from cruise to cruise based on the particular counselors that are working and the demeanor of your child, we observed numerous issues with the structure of the club and how the counselors conducted themselves that came as a shock to us as we had not seen any complaints on these forums regarding this before our cruise.

In my opinion, the Oceaneer's club is simply not designed to care for children 5 and under or children who are somewhat shy. The ratio of children to counselors is much too high for children of this age. This problem is magnified by the fact that most of the counselors who are on duty are almost always clustered in the same areas (either watching the main activity or at the front desk), effectively increasing the child-to-counselor ratio even more.

In addition, we got the feeling that many of the counselors were there just because the kid's club was the only DCL job opening they could get. While there were a few counselors that seemed to have genuine interest and experience in working with kids, most seemed completely unqualified to be there and more interested in talking with each other or watching the main activity than interacting with the kids.

The counselors' handling of children who did not engage themselves in the main activity of the hour was also completely unacceptable. There seemed to be two methods of dealing with these children: either completely ignore them and leave them to sulk or cry in the corners by themselves (we saw 1-2 cases of this just about every time we visited) OR forcibly pick them up and drop them near the other children.

The counselors also fail to intervene and prevent the more rowdy children (and bullies) from knocking down the younger/smaller kids. We saw multiple cases of children getting pushed down or forced down the slide when they didn't want to go. No counselors were in sight to handle, let alone prevent, such situations. In fact, visiting parents were more likely to catch and stop these situations than the counselors.

The counselors' handling of such problems is also unacceptable. When a child got hurt or had a problem, the most common response we observed was for the counselor to say "oh, I'm sorry" and turn around and walk away. I would not be surprised to learn that DCL has settled several lawsuits out of court due to this behavior.

There is also a frightening lack of accountability and professionalism from most of the counselors as well. The prevailing attitude seems to be that it is a privilege for your child to attend the kid's club and it is the child's responsibility to notify a counselor of any problems (so don't blame the counselors for your child's lack of assertiveness!). But since there is an ever-changing stream of new counselors coming and going throughout the day and since most of them fail to adequately respond to a child's problems when the child does speak up, the children quickly learn not to trust them and keep their problems to themselves. Older children who have several years of school under their belt and are comfortable in these situations will probably do ok, but for kids 5 and under, this simply does not work.

What is sad is that children really do seem to have a lot a fun at the club when they're not being ignored or getting pushed down. If DCL simply assigned some supervisors to oversee the club and ensure all children were being watched and all counselors were actually serving a useful purpose while they were there, a lot of these problems could be solved.

However, based on the quality of counselors employed by DCL for the kid's club and the extremely limited space on the comment card dedicated to the kids club, I get the distinct impression that the kid's clubs are pretty far down the priority list for DCL so these needed changes are unlikely to occur.

What we found even more depressing though was the attitude of a lot of the parents who dumped their kids at the club. We saw several cases of parents checking in their crying children who did want to go and even more crying kids being checked out complaining that they had been pushed down or that nobody would play with them. If the parents don't care enough to demand better care from the kid's club, then DCL really has no motivation to make any changes.

For us, the quality of the kids club was the primary reason we booked DCL instead of another cruise line. Any cruise line can offer a "kid's club" that simply acts as a place for parents to dump their kids while they go get a drink, but we thought Disney offered something better than this. Unfortunately, once you remove the glossy Disney wrapping and character appearances from the Oceaneer's club, what you're left with is exactly that. Based on our experience, we will probably never cruise with DCL again. The price premium you have to pay simply isn't worth it.

I'm curious to hear from other parents who had 4 or 5 year olds attend the Oceaneer's club. Did you not observe any of these problems?
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:35 PM  
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I had a negative experience in Feb. now my child was in Oceaneers Lab and we were on his Make A Wish trip. So just saying, he has already seen a lot of trauma in his life and is lucky to be here.

So he accidentally went to the Oceaneers Club instead of the lab, just a mistake because they both start with Oceaneers. The counselors at the club were very unfriendly to him and made him cry (which he does not do easily). Then he got turned around and was wandering the ship by himself crying because the counselors at the club couldn't even be nice or help him to find the lab.

When I finally located him and got him calmed down I want up to the lab and reported the incident and no one seemed to give a care. Needless to say he didn't want to spend anymore time at the lab.

I have to say I was floored because our whole experience on the ship was absolutely pure magic and wonderful besides that incident. It makes me sad to hear about your bad experience. DCL should definitely do something.
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:44 PM  
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WOW! Can I make a suggestion? Copy your post in a letter or e-mail to DCL.

My DD loved the Oceaneer's Club on the Magic (never was there on the WOnder), but that was many years ago. I have no current experience with that age group. However, I do know that DCL takes guest feedback very seriously. PLEASE don't let this drop with a frustrated post in a public forum (yes, we know there are DCL personnel lurking here, but....) Please send it where it can do some good!
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:50 PM  
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I just got off the Magic on Aug 29th and had a great experience in the club. My son is three and I spent a great deal of time in there because I mainly stayed there with him to watch him. I did check him in 3-4 times and leave him alone as well. What I observed was there was always 1 or 2 people checking in and out, there was always 1 person standing in front of the bathrooms, when the slide was open there was always 1 person at the top of the slide and 1 person at the bottom. They closed the slide/climbing area and Captains closet everytime they had an activity going on to encourage everyone to participate. If kids did not want to, they were limited to the other smaller slide area and the video and of course had the rest of the area to run around in. Many times, they split up the group to 3-4's and 5-7's. I thought this was great. They had about 4 counselors for all the 3-4's and about the same for the 5-7's. This was usually in the evening when it got much busier. I never saw a crying child not being held. Those times that I did leave my son alone, I went back to peek in on him to make sure he was alright. One time I spotted him in the captains closet doing puzzles with 2 other children and a counselor. It was really a great experience and I was really impressed with it. Maybe there is a difference because it is a longer cruise where the counselors get to really know the children, especially the ones who were in their a lot. Maybe some other posters can share their experiences on the Magic and see if that may be the difference.
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Old 09-04-2009, 02:37 PM  
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We used the Oceaneer's Club in May 2009...and my girls had a great time. They begged to go back over and over! Counselors were friendly, enthusiastic, and thoughtful...great activities that were age-appropriate for both my 4 year old and my 7 year old (in different groups). They loved it all...we visited with them on the first night to get the lay of the land. By the next morning, my dd4 was showing me how things worked.

At one point, dd4 got lost on the pool deck (on my watch....not when she was at the club). A CM found her wandering around and after they couldn't locate us quickly (because we were wandering around looking for her), the took her to the Club where they welcomed her and reassured her that we would be down to find her soon. By the time we arrived, she was off watching a movie with some other kids and a CM.

We're heading on a 2 week long trip next April and dd4 will be 5 by then. They are really looking foward to it. Dd7 will be in the lab next time.....
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Old 09-04-2009, 03:25 PM  
Join Date: Sep 2007
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we just got off the wonder yesterday maybe same cruise(?) and my 12 y.o was not impressed with the lab either. In his opinion the lab was geared to the younger children and ignoring his experience. He also complained that a counselor had an attitude and that he was kinda ignored. He wants to go back to Princess cruise, surprised the heck outta me.
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Old 09-04-2009, 03:40 PM  
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I too found the ratios disturbing. My kids didn't "love" the clubs. The older one (6 at the time) was ok, but my younger one (3) wouldn't even stay with me. She said it was too scary. She is shy, yes, but I would have appreciated it if someone would have tried with her. To be fair, I'm not sure that they didn't try. But she sure didn't have fun. I felt the counselors were surrounding the check in point as well. Don't get me wrong, we had a great cruise, but I think something else should be done with the little ones too!
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Old 09-04-2009, 04:14 PM  

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My now 10-yr old DD has been in the Lab 3 times, and was in the Club twice, the first time at age 3 1/2. My now 6-yr old DS has been in Flounders once, and the Club twice. We've done both the Wonder and the Magic.

I have had only one incident occur where I definitely sensed the CM attitude you describe, and it was at Scuttles Cove when no one could find my son. Turns out he saw me come in and round up DD, so he went to the entrace.....and the CM let him out! He was sitting on the bench at the Scuttles Cove desk, but I couldn't see him from inside. There was one CM who was really trying to help me find him, but when we finally did, NONE of them thought there was anything odd about what had happened.

Beyond this - my kids love the clubs, they beg to go, and they also have always joined in all of the activities, so perhaps that is why we've never had - or noticed - a problem. I sat in a jacuzzi late one night with a Club CM and she told us all about why she took the job, her early childhood education focus, you-name-it. I got the sense that there are many of the CMs who are really focused on their role in that capacity - and I'm sure there are some who are not.
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Old 09-04-2009, 05:28 PM  
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Sorry to hear of your bad experiences. We have only cruised the Wonder in our pre kids days, we were just on the Aug 15th Magic cruise and my 4 year old DD LOVED the club and I was really impressed with the staff in the Oceaneers Club - perhaps they need to get some of the Magic Youth Staff to train up the Wonder ones that you describe.

I felt the level of interaction was good and the friendship and relationship that my daughter enjoyed with the counsellers far exceded my expectations - I cried on the Friday night when she was saying goodbye!

I would definitely write your post into a letter to DCL - they need to know that there was a problem and that they failed to meet your expectations. If you don't alert them to the problem things carry on as they are.

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Old 09-05-2009, 01:32 AM  
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I've now heard too many stories. Unglued does not cover my reaction if something like that happened to my kid. I'm NOT signing up for any childrens services.
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Old 09-05-2009, 01:20 PM  
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Originally Posted by kcashner View Post
WOW! Can I make a suggestion? Copy your post in a letter or e-mail to DCL.

My DD loved the Oceaneer's Club on the Magic (never was there on the WOnder), but that was many years ago. I have no current experience with that age group. However, I do know that DCL takes guest feedback very seriously. PLEASE don't let this drop with a frustrated post in a public forum (yes, we know there are DCL personnel lurking here, but....) Please send it where it can do some good!
I totally agree with kcashners recommendation - complain and complain loudly and often to DCL. If you get just "form letter" and it doesn't address your concerns - do not stop.

The one thing that I have learned is that as long as you keep complaining - Disney, in general, will eventually step up. It may not happen in a week or a month, but keep at them.

I have had a SERIOUS dispute going with DVC for almost 5 months - it just got resolved last week. Do not let up on them.

Unacceptable behavior is just that - unacceptable.
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Old 09-05-2009, 08:20 PM  
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Wow, I am very suprised to hear these stories! We have been on 3 cruises, 2 with the kids and they loved loved loved the clubs and the cruise staff. They were all great with my kids.

I agree with pp that you should right to DCL. Also, if you have issues on the ship you should go to the CD, it is his job to supervise the cruise staff, including the counselors.

Seriously, take names and complain. DCL doesn't take complaints lightly and these people will be talked too and removed if needed!
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Old 09-08-2009, 11:23 PM  
Earning My Ears
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 10

I have posted about our not so great experience on the 8/27 Wonder with regard to the food and service, but this post touches upon something very crucial to all of us planning a Disney cruise. Most of us do so b/c we feel this cruise line among all others is best suited to address the wants and needs of our children. When Disney falls short in that department, that's when I know I am definitely booking elsewhere. My children were miserable at both Flounder's and the OC. I couldn't dare leave my 3 year old alone in that place and switcher her back to Flounder's. The advisor's were dim and barely alert. They hardly acknowledge the kids and the place was amuck with kids running around in circles w/o supervision. No way was I going to let her go near Scuttles Cove under their watch.

Disney's lax attitude toward physical pushing and bullying is confounding. My 3 year old was pushed down to the ground in front of my eyes and I was then bullied by the kid's parent who claimed he didn't see anything happen. The CM's did nothing b/c they "do not get involved with he said, she said situations" !!!! I was shocked, there are cameras everywhere on that ship it wouldn't have been difficult to see my little girl hit the floor and then proceed to cry herself to sleep. Not to mention the other parents who saw and heard everything from her fall, right down to the humongous man who was cursing at me and intimidating me in defense of his rotten kid. I seriously doubt this behavior would be tolerated in the parks.

I complained on the ship and spoke with their customer service once on land, but they had silly stock answers that were of no consolation. What more can I do?
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:16 PM  
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That is really too bad to hear of a few less than pleasureable experiences. We were on the Magic in October 2009 and had no issues. The CM's were great, we never felt once unwelcomed and we went lots. We found they took wonderful care of all the children.
Our little ones, were 4 and 6, would wake up and ask to go to"their clubs". Sometimes they split, other times they both stayed in the same spot.
We are looking forward to going back next year.
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Old 09-10-2009, 02:42 PM  
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Geez! First the bad reports on the this I'm sorry some of you had such a bad experience, I hope we don't have any problems with the kids clubs when we go. I thought a Disney Cruise was supposed to be a childs dream come true?
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dcl, kids club, oceaneers club

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