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Old 09-10-2009, 03:54 PM   #16
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Perceptions are different. I have read more good then bad. I know my kids were in the club and lab and quest and any issues that might have happened were addressed, and I found the staff very accommodating and helpful. They bent over backwards to make sure my kids were happy and having a great time.
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Old 09-10-2009, 07:14 PM   #17
lance435
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After reading some of the replies to my original post, I think I should clarify a few things ...

Let's be honest ... it doesn't take much effort or skill to entertain younger kids when you have a cool playground, Disney movies playing non-stop on the TV, character appearances, and scripted activities throughout the day. In fact, most kids would probably have a blast hanging out in the club even if all of the counselors were totally incompetent or not even present.

But how many of you parents out there would feel comfortable dropping off your child at the club if it was just a play area with no adult supervision? Most kids would still have a good time, sure, but it would hard to have a good time as a parent knowing a problem might come up and no counselor would be there to handle it.

This is precisely why you can't just take someone off the street and expect them to be a quality childcare provider. Sure, just about anyone can check kids in and out of the club, queue up some movies on the TV and lead a scripted activity, but it takes genuine training and experience with children to prevent and handle problems that routinely arise such as bullying, shyness, and boredom. In my opinion, the majority of counselors employed on the Disney Wonder (at least at the time of our cruise) are simply unqualified for this.

My original post wasn't trying to imply that the kids club is so bad that your kids won't enjoy it or that anyone with kids should avoid DCL. Rather, my point is that, despite advertisements implying otherwise, the kids club is essentially an unsupervised playground where the onus is on your child to deal with any problems that arise, so parents should set their expectations accordingly.

Personally, we chose DCL (and justified its price premium) because we thought it would provide quality childcare and we were sorely disappointed. We likely won't sail with DCL again because we can get the same poor-to-mediocre childcare on just about any cruise line for a much lower price. For that reason I really have no motivation to follow up with DCL about my experience as many have suggested (although DCL did recently call to follow up, somewhat rudely, with the poor rating we gave on the comment card). If there had been only one or two problematic counselors or one specific incident, I might consider, but the problems I described are systematic and cannot be fixed by a DCL apology or superficial change to their policies so I really don't see the point.
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:54 PM   #18
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We were on the Aug 29th sailing on the Magic, as was an earlier poster. My kids (9 and 11) loved their respective clubs. The activities were very well planned for their age groups, and the councelor in my older son's group even called the kids together at one point to talk about respecting each other in the club. I definately think that this is a case where some of the individuals working may not be as good as others, and even if you have no plan on returning to DCL it would benefit others to make a complaint. I have always found Disney to take complaints seriously, and how can they fix something if they don't know about it? Just wanted to encourage you let Disney know (you may even get something for it!)
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:55 PM   #19
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I just want to tell the OP I am sorry his child experienced this on the Wonder. Our youngest child had just turned four on our first cruise. She's really tiny for age and everyone (except me) tends to baby her. Maybe, that's why she never lacked for attention in the Club. Don't know. While waiting to pick her up, we definitely witnessed some of the things you mentioned happening to other children.

On our daughter's first solo visit to the Club, she was, I think, a combination of tired and overwhelmed (no previous daycare-like experience) and after about an hour started crying and asking the counselors to get us. When we arrived, we had to wait our turn at the gate and it allowed a couple minutes to observe the room. The main activity involved all the little children and counselors sitting in a circle around a parachute. Our daughter, still sniffling, was cuddled in the lap of one of the sitting counselors. It was comforting to see that she was being consoled. If we had arrived to find her alone and in tears, or sitting alone on a bench crying her eyes out while she waited for us, it would have been a different story.

As it turned out, on the same cruise, it could have gone either way. Most of the time, we only dropped our daughter off when there was a specific activity in which she wanted to participate. Once, during an "at sea" day, we dropped her off without regard to the activity schedule just because she wanted us to. It must have been "free time" between activities. Swarms of little kids were running around, sliding, screaming, climbing, etc. We had to wait a few minutes to check her in, so we had time to watch. It was a zoo! I'm not saying this as someone who is unaccustomed to the site of hordes of little children enjoying free play. I went into the play area with her because I wasn't sure she would want join in at this point. What stands out in my mind is the memory of there being no CM supervision at the slide, and while there were CM's in the general area, to my uninformed eyes, it seemed like those CM's were avoiding the mayhem in the slide area. The play area was like someone described earlier with some kids pushing and shoving and demonstrating the chaos that results when no one supervises. One little boy was screaming in the ear of a little girl who was covering her head with her hands and crying. I couldn't NOT intervene there. Fortunately for me, no foul-mouthed parent verbally attacked me for doing so.

On that first cruise, our daughter enjoyed the memorable time she spent in the Club, but it wasn't without incident. She didn't escape the naturally uncouth behavior that preschoolers and kindergarteners subject each other too. She told us about being pushed down and how the kids wouldn't take turns in line and other such things. I don't expect the CM's to prevent all incidents, but because I saw first hand that adequate supervision was an issue at times, I can't help feeling that DCL can be doing better by our younger children.
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Old 09-10-2009, 09:14 PM   #20
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I concur lance435, I have no desire to complain to DCL and be patronized with a lukewarm apology. Have you done any research into alternative cruise lines with programs for kids? Would you mind sharing? We are ready to begin planning our 2010 summer cruise : )
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Old 09-11-2009, 11:26 AM   #21
lance435
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjbucks1 View Post
I definately think that this is a case where some of the individuals working may not be as good as others, and even if you have no plan on returning to DCL it would benefit others to make a complaint. I have always found Disney to take complaints seriously, and how can they fix something if they don't know about it? Just wanted to encourage you let Disney know (you may even get something for it!)
Like I stated above, this is not a problem of DCL being unaware of one or two problematic counselors or a particular incident that happened. The problem lies in DCL's employment practices, the way they have chosen to structure the kids club, and the amount of resources (or lack thereof) they have chosen to dedicate to quality childcare.

DCL has made a conscious decision to make things the way they are and they are well aware of the consequences of these decisions. And to be honest, based on some of the responses to this thread and what we observed from many of the parents on our cruise, most people don't really care about these shortcomings, so DCL has no motivation to improve.

When I filled out the comment card at the end of the cruise, I made it obvious that everything other than the childcare was great and that the childcare soured our overall experience and we are very unlikely to book DCL in the future as a result. Obviously this was enough to trigger a mandatory follow up phone call, but I wouldn't expect any meaningful changes from DCL until massive numbers of parents lodge similar complaints. In the end, DCL only cares how people vote with their wallets.
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Old 09-17-2009, 10:20 PM   #22
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We observed and experienced these very same issues on our Wonder cruise back in Jan 09 - the OP's description was so similiar to our experience it could have been written by me!! My DD (at the time almost 4) and I are not new to childcare settings, and I understand how things can go awry anywhere children are, but I absolutely agree that the OC is NOT appropriate for 4 and unders.

I guess I was wrongly assuming that Disney would do all things concerning children with care and concern. We were rather astounded at the lack of interest the CMs had in the kids - there were several times that we saw kids crying alone, way too many kids for the number of staff present, and very little attention paid to whether you had the right child when you left! One girl walked up and was bleeding from having cut herself and the CM at the desk only asked "do you need a band-aid?" to a 5yo!! He never even looked at the cut. As a mom and a physician I was appalled.

After the third brief visit there (we only took her when we thought she would enjoy the activity scheduled), we felt it was too unsafe for her. I would venture to say that the majority of the CMs that work there have no special qualifications for childcare, and appeared to us to be no more than disinterested babysitters.

I'm sure our experience was just reflective of the staff present when we were on the ship, but i would recommend that parents hang out and observe a bit before they leave the real little ones there.
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Old 09-17-2009, 11:38 PM   #23
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We used the club on our cruise last year. DD was 5yrs old at the time. The club is just a glorified daycare centre. It is not worth the extra money you pay to go on Disney. In fact RCCL has a much better kids club and their counselors actualy care.
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Old 09-20-2009, 01:42 PM   #24
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I'm wondering if the CM's are better on one ship than the other?
It seems like there are more complaints about the Wonder than the Magic. Perhaps that is because on the Wonder children are there for less days and therefore some of the CM's have more of an "I don't care" attitude as they know they be able to connect with the children. We went on our 1st Disney cruise this past May on the Magic and while my kids did like the clubs(ages 10 and 6) they were not overly thrilled with them and I think were a little let down. My 2 y.o. only went to Flounders once and was quite upset there so we ended up spending some on on one time with him while the other 2 were in the clubs, which was really nice! Now my kids did not spend a ton of time in the clubs as we spent alot of time together as a family on the pool deck and at the shows at night. That being said I did notice that some of the CM's seem to really love their job's while others seemed pretty nonchalant and almost "zombie-like".
I have my degree in Early Childhood Education/Early Intervention and do definately agree that Disney needs to take a fresh look at their kids clubs. They need to perhaps add more staff or at the least keep the staff who are there updated through child development training. Most of all they need to make sure that the CM's who are caring for the children love their job and want to be doing that job! They also need to make sure to take cruisers comments seriously! Word of mouth gets around as we all know!
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:43 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lance435 View Post
My original post wasn't trying to imply that the kids club is so bad that your kids won't enjoy it or that anyone with kids should avoid DCL. Rather, my point is that, despite advertisements implying otherwise, the kids club is essentially an unsupervised playground where the onus is on your child to deal with any problems that arise, so parents should set their expectations accordingly.
While I don't necessarily agree with your points about the Kids Club personnel being "unqualified" (they seem more over-worked and exasperated than incompetent), I do agree that DCL has a "one size fits all" mentality regarding the kids clubs. They don't have any options for kids (like mine) who just don't enjoy large, noisy group activities. Quiet, introspective kids (especially kids who have never been in day care) will feel intimidated and over-whelmed by the large group size and the noise levels.

I would like the Kids Clubs to have a separate "quiet area", for kids who just want to color or play Legos. The area next to the "Flubber lab" could be sealed off further, and re-designed as a Quiet Room for quiet free play... it shouldn't require more than one DCL staffer to be present.

Our son is 7 now, and on our last cruise we didnt even use the kids club at all. When he needed "down time" we'd just head back to our room, and he would watch cartoons on TV... while mom and me would take turns going to the spa, or drink some wine together on our verandah. It worked out nice for everyone.

Just because the cruise ship has a "kids club" doesn't mean you have to use it!
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Old 09-22-2009, 11:34 AM   #26
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Hi everyone.
I had read this thread today. I saw the title a while ago. Somehow, today I was inspired to read this. It is interesting the different views of the same place. This was my experience 2 years ago when my son was 3.5. I didn't think the place was unsafe. But I wasn't totally sold on the place. My son was used to part time preschool/daycare. He just didn't like the place. He was worried that I wouldn't pick him up. It was a new place and a new experience. In hind site, I just think he was too small to enjoy it. And the other part that I didn't care for was the "fun" slide that was only open during certain hours. My son is active so looking at the slide was torture. He didn't want to watch movies, or do art. He wanted to move his body. Once again, I needed to take him there during certain activities. He only spent a total of 4-5 hours there. I was OK with that. I wanted him with me anyhow.

Since it has been 2 years, I have had time to really think about it. And honestly, I have made the decision to take him on a cruise when he is older. And not count of the kids clubs (of any cruise line) to entertain him. If I want that, they he can stay at grandmas.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 10-02-2009, 01:29 PM   #27
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We just came off of the Wonder (Oct 1) and I must say that I'm sorry the OP had such a bad experience.
Our 3 1/2 yr old dd and 2 yr old grandson *loved* both OC and Flounders.

My dd is very outgoing and personable, however when presented with a new situation or group of people she tends to be very shy and reserved.

The grandson *hates* going to daycare, and we assumed he'd be problematic at Flounders, and thought we'd at least get a partial Palo experience. Surprisingly, he wanted to go back every day!!!!

DD liked the club so much that she didn't want to go to pre-school today because her club was sooooooooo much better.

Almost all of the castmembers we spoke with had a Master's degree or better, so I would think that it may be more a staffing issue rather than a knowlege based one. Plus as parents we have to understand the limitations of our children. My two grown kids never went to preschool, and both were painfully shy unless they *really* knew the people they were with, so I rarely had non-family babysitters and would never have even tried to bring them to something so big as a club...it would have been way too much for them to handle.

Hopefully Disney will do something to help resolve the issue for you and your family.
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Old 10-16-2009, 07:19 PM   #28
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Our kids absolutely LOVED Oceaneers Club. They were 3yr girl and 5yr Boy. They wanted to spend the entire cruise there and would object when we went to collect them!
The counsellors were fantastic and would greet them by name every time including when they were just freely wandering around the ship.

We had no complaints. Does your child usually enjoy Kids Club settings? They are not for everyone.
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Old 10-19-2009, 10:21 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bundles View Post
Our kids absolutely LOVED Oceaneers Club. They were 3yr girl and 5yr Boy. They wanted to spend the entire cruise there and would object when we went to collect them!
The counsellors were fantastic and would greet them by name every time including when they were just freely wandering around the ship.

We had no complaints. Does your child usually enjoy Kids Club settings? They are not for everyone.
Can someone asnwer this question? I m sure its been asked a million times. If you child is 90% potty trained but sometimes needs help, but we were only planning on leaving them in the club for like 3-4 hours max. Will they allow them to do it or at least try? He just turned 3, 2 weeks ago and loves kids of all ages, not shy at all, tries to talk to every kid he sees. We sail on Nov 1st. and I know he would have a blast in the club.
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Old 10-19-2009, 10:47 AM   #30
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Can someone asnwer this question? I m sure its been asked a million times. If you child is 90% potty trained but sometimes needs help, but we were only planning on leaving them in the club for like 3-4 hours max. Will they allow them to do it or at least try? He just turned 3, 2 weeks ago and loves kids of all ages, not shy at all, tries to talk to every kid he sees. We sail on Nov 1st. and I know he would have a blast in the club.
The CMs cannot help the kids in the bathroom at all in the O Club. The kids have to be completely PTd and able deal with the bathroom completely on their own. You could make sure that he goes when you drop him off and then check on him to have him try again every hour or so. Pullups are not allowed during the day either.
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