DCL or Princess: Help Us Decide

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by kehonuamemano, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. cleophus12

    cleophus12 DIS Veteran

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    While cost is not the only deciding factor, it has always been one of the major deciding factors in our choice of cruise line. We cruised with DCL 10 years ago and had a wonderful time. However, since then we have cruised other lines who offer comparable itineraries at a lower cost. We have only been disappointed once and that was in the Med. We chose Costa (!) which is heavily European and we were in an English speaking minority. DD who was 13 at the time went to the Teen club and no one spoke English. All games were played in foreign languages and she never went back. So while cost was a factor in our choice of cruise line on that trip, I was very sorry I did not pay more for a cruise line we felt more comfortable with (which at that time would have been RCCL). Go with what makes you happy. We are cruising with DCL again this year and can't wait!
     
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  3. kehonuamemano

    kehonuamemano Mouseketeer

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    Very good point. I've heard that most of the passengers on Princess, even the Europe trips, are American so hopefully this won't be an issue.
     
  4. Disney Canadian

    Disney Canadian Mouseketeer

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    And all daycares and/or schools won't pick up and go to another country without you. Also, most people would have emergency contacts that could hopefully get to the child if you couldn't. On a cruise ship, it's unlikely that you would have this unless you we're traveling with a large group.

    What I posted earlier was from DCL and they advised against it, I didn't say that you couldn't.
     
  5. kehonuamemano

    kehonuamemano Mouseketeer

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    I think Disney Canadian's post more speaks to the concept of risk.
    Risk is a reality of life. Your daycare won't go to another country but if you are far away and a natural disaster strikes you may not be able to reach your child. I think as a parent I worry about everything all the time and I do my best to minimize the risk. But at some point you have to live and have faith everything is going to be ok.

    And frankly, if DCL did not think it was safe they would not allow you to leave your child on the ship.

    And if there was rioting in Greece for example when we are in port, I think it would be 1000 safer for my child to be onboard than with us on an excursion.
     
  6. Disney Canadian

    Disney Canadian Mouseketeer

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    Quote from my travel agent...

    "Disney requests that you do not leave the ship, leaving children in the kids clubs, as if there is an emergency they need to be able to have a parent/guardian available immediately."
     
  7. RedxPanda

    RedxPanda DIS Veteran

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    We are considering Princess for a southern Caribbean cruise out of FT Lauderdale. Partly because of the DCL price tag + airfare to San Juan, and partly because my family would rather cruise a more 'normal' cruise line. I have researched their cruise line quite a bit and feel it will be a good fit for our family and I like the ports they go to. I, like you, am more interested in new and exciting ports. They are a North American marketed cruise line, so English will be spoken ship wide. There will be less kids on board, but that could also be a +, because the kids get more personalized attention.

    I would go with Princess to try them out. Like you said, the savings can help pay for a new DCL cruise! Or a second Princess cruise if you like them that much. :thumbsup2
     
  8. luv2sleep

    luv2sleep DIS Veteran

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    Is that on the website? Just curious but how does the travel agent know this? I would think it have to be posted officially somewhere and not just said by a booking agent CM.
     
  9. kehonuamemano

    kehonuamemano Mouseketeer

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    Thanks a bunch! Right now we are leaning towards Princess but reserving our final decision by April 27th or if DCL prices do indeed go up before then or down (hopefully).
     
  10. disfreaks

    disfreaks Mouseketeer

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    We took our first Disney Cruise in 2007 and our kids loved it. So much so, we have done 3 others, and the med cruise in July will be our 5th. We have also sailed on Princess to Alaska when the kids were 10 and 13, and RCI when they were 16 and 13. Our Princess cruise was during the summer and there were so many kids on board, they moved their age group activities to a different location. If the kids didn't want to do the planned activity, they couldn't really stay there because there was nothing else to do. We didn't want to pay for them to go to the clubs at 9 pm, so they came back to the room with us. They didn't get to spend any time in the clubs and we were kind of disappointed by that. RCI was somewhat better, however, the kids had to share the sofa bed and they didn't fit on it very well. Both are very tall and if I got up to go to the bathroom I hit someone! ;) RCI had similar policies. You could go to the club to do the planned activitiy, but if not enough kids showed up, they cancelled it. They had beautiful kids spaces there too! (It may be different in the younger clubs, I don't have experience there.) There really wasn't the chance to just hang out in the clubs for them. I looked in to switching the med cruise to RCI to save money, but without the pull down bed, we needed 2 cabins and that didn't save us much. I could have called to see what a cabin with a pull down bed cost, but when I spoke to the family about it, they didn't want to go if we couldn't go on Disney. That is our family and every family is different. That is why there are so many different options, so you can choose what is right for you! I wish you the best and you will have fun no matter what you choose! Any cruise in my opinion is better than a week at home! Good luck with your decision...not sure I helped much, but that is my 2 cents worth! :thumbsup2
     
  11. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

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    OP--Since you mentioned Aulani, I thought I'd put my 2 cents in (I'm also an owner).

    With the $4000 you'd save w/Princess, you can go to Aulani. It's expensive, but renting DVC points would save you a ton and for $4000 that's like at least 5 nights in a 2 bedroom just before Christmas time. Heck, you could rent a studio for 6 nights for like $1500 or so.

    We also did this debate (but it was NCL Epic v. DCL Med) and DCL won out since the price difference was small, about $500. If it had been $4000, I would have chosen the non-DCL option.

    Having now planned out our Med excursions, the reality is we're only on the ship to eat/sleep and the 2 sea days (1 of which I'll be doing laundry/packing/cleaning). If my daughter were a sophisticated 7/8 YO like yours, I would definitely pick the cheaper line since she is old enough to understand why Mickey isn't showing up for pictures. Right now my DD is only 4 and she would not really understand why we're on a different ship.

    Good luck w/your decision! And if you choose Princess, have fun: (1) with your new experience; and (2) on your future Aulani trip pixiedust: See how that's a win/win? Lol.
     
  12. ilovetexas

    ilovetexas DIS Veteran

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    I wish I had seen this sooner, I believe you have to make your decision by tomorrow. I haven't sailed Princess but I would choose them for several reasons:

    1. Price. $4k is a lot of money and will pay for all your shore excursions and incidentals.
    2. You aren't going to be on the ship that much, anyway.
    3. You said your daughter didn't like the kids clubs on Fantasy much. My two cents, give her a different option. I'm on Cruise Critic a lot and while I haven't read anything specific to Princess that I recall, a LOT of people indicate their kids prefer kids clubs on HAL and Celebrity because there aren't many kids there and they get more attention and get to do better "stuff".
    4. Itinerary. Better on Princess by a mile!

    Here is some reading material for you:

    http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=2

    Also, if you still have some time, go to Cruise Critic and sign in. Ask a very specific question on the Princess board as you did here. See what types of responses you get. I saw someone do it on the Celebrity board recently and people jumped on it and gave them a lot of answers. Good luck! :)
     
  13. kehonuamemano

    kehonuamemano Mouseketeer

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    Great information! The kids club stuff seems to dependent on the age of the kids, the sailing, and the number of kids on that sailing. We would hope that a July cruise on Princess would have a fair amount of kids in her age group, our daughter is 6. But I think it's a risk.
    I hope you whole family has an awesome time on your July Disney cruise!
     
  14. kehonuamemano

    kehonuamemano Mouseketeer

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    Thank you for sharing your story. We did decide to book the Princess cruise, and moved our DCL cruise with OBD and balance to Cali Coast/Alaska B2B in 2014. We will keep checking DCL from now until April 27th, our cancelation date for Princess, to see if they release a discount that we qualify for.
    If not, it sounds like we are going to Princess. :scared:
     
  15. luv2sleep

    luv2sleep DIS Veteran

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    Have a great trip! Can you come back here and give us a detailed review of the activities there are outside of the clubs for families, what you thought of the pools, and the kids clubs? I don't usually tread trip reports. They are usually too long when I'm only interested in finding out about this one thing (pretty much the only thing I care about ...I'm not that concerned about things that have to do with adult stuff, food, or me, etc.)). Thanks! :)
     
  16. kehonuamemano

    kehonuamemano Mouseketeer

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    No problem. If we do end up on Princess I will definitely come back and let you know how it went.
     
  17. kehonuamemano

    kehonuamemano Mouseketeer

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    The trip Itinerary:

    Thursday 11-Jul Venice, Italy 11:59AM
    Friday 12-Jul Venice, Italy 12:00AM 06:00PM
    Saturday 13-Jul At Sea
    Sunday 14-Jul Dubrovnik, Croatia 07:00AM 05:00PM
    Monday 15-Jul Corfu, Greece 08:00AM 06:00PM
    Tuesday 16-Jul Katakolon, Greece 07:00AM 04:00PM
    Wednesday 17-Jul Piraeus, Greece 06:00AM 05:45PM
    Thursday 18-Jul Mykonos, Greece 01:00AM 06:00PM
    Friday 19-Jul Kusadasi, Turkey 08:00AM 05:00PM
    Saturday 20-Jul Santorini, Greece 07:00AM 06:00PM
    Sunday 21-Jul At Sea
    Monday 22-Jul Naples, Italy 07:00AM 06:00PM
    Tuesday 23-Jul Civitavecchia, Italy 04:00AM

    Unfortunately, due to a delay leaving Boston we missed our connection to Venice. It was quite a pain in the bottom I mean adventure, but I will try and keep this review to just the Princess Cruise experience.

    Although it was no fault of the cruise line, they were not very helpful or accessible when our flight was delayed. After 11pm they connect you to someone who is in Australia. And even though we purchased our tickets through Princess we had to work directly with the airline. Delta was able to move us over to Air Italia leaving JFK airport the next day and we were able to make it to the ship on the 12th. I don’t know first-hand how this compares to Disney but I’ve heard Disney has better customer service when it comes to delays and cancelations of flights.

    After this inauspicious beginning, we arrived in Venice a day late. We took a taxi to the cruise port as suggested by our travel agent. It was around 30 Euros with tips and we were there in about a half an hour. We didn’t expect a welcome committee given that we were a day late, however we waited a good 30 minutes before we the gate employees figured out whom to call to let us on the ship. We certainly weren’t the only family that were delayed so it was a bit odd that they seemed put out that we were arriving a day late.

    We were finally let on the ship and vaguely directed to our room. The room was considerable smaller; we were prepared for this, however we weren’t prepared for the fact that our room was a two twin beds only configuration. This was a buzz kill given it was our wedding anniversary. Our choice to go with Princess wasn’t looking so great at this moment. Jet lagged, travel worn, and irritated with each other we decided that I would explore Venice and my husband and daughter would hit the pool. It was nearly 100 degrees in Venice that day.

    I won’t go into detail with the ports or the port itinerary other than the rest of the trip went as expected re: port adventures. It was on par with Disney as far as organization, meeting spots, tour guides, etc. The only issue was the port adventures desk was not available as often as Disney. When we wanted to add a port adventure or cancel a day we weren’t feeling so great, it was difficult to access the Port Adventures desk. They were open when we weren’t on the ship.

    Princess vs. Disney

    Food: Ruby Princess
    Food is more readily available on the Ruby Princess and is of a higher quality than what is served on the Disney Magic. The International Café on Deck 5 is open 24hrs and serves sandwiches, desserts, and salads 24 hours a day. We choose traditional dining which meant we had the same serving team every night in the same restaurant. While we missed the rotational dining on Disney, but the nightly dinner on the Ruby Princess varied each night and every meal was pretty good. During the day we relied heavily on the buffet on Princess, Horizon Court. I rarely ever eat at Topsider’s on the Disney Magic because I’ve eaten several truly yucky items. Although, I do think Cabanas on the Disney Fantasy is a marked improvement and Horizon Court on the Ruby Princess is on par or better than the buffet on Disney Fantasy.

    Family Activities: Disney Magic
    It’s possible we were completely missing the boat here, pun intended but I don’t honestly believe there was one family activity on the Princess Cruise. There were tons of kids on our cruise, I asked the cruise staff and they said there were over 170 kids in the 3-9 ranges alone on the ship. I guess that’s a lot for non-Disney cruises. Princess had many activities such as karaoke, game night, bingo etc. but it was mainly for older kids 17 and up.

    Kid Activities: Disney Magic
    It goes without saying that Disney caters to kids and they really know how to bring the magic in everything making it an unbelievable time for the kids. With that being said, my daughter swears she preferred the club on the Princess mainly I think because they have an outdoor space. Or it’s possible she felt more one on one attention. She is 7, she doesn’t go into detail.

    For us adults, the hours of operation for the clubs were problematic because they were closed for lunch, dinner, and closed at 10pm. On port days you have to let them know a day in advance if you will be off the ship and it was limited to around 25 kids. We hadn’t planned on leaving her at all while on the ship but it was extremely hot while in Naples and my daughter wanted to return to the ship about 15 minutes away into our exploration. My husband went back to the ship with her and I explored Naples alone.

    The Ruby Princess has 3 pools; one for adults only located in the sanctuary and the other 2 starts off at 5 feet 1 inch and goes up to 7 feet and a few inches. This is great for the teens and the adults; however for parent with small children no so much. My daughter was 6 at the time and while she has taken swimming lessons and is not afraid to jump in the deep end of the pool, one of us had to be in the pool at all times. We are helicopter parents so we are always near and she is always in sight when in any pool but it was a bit inconvenient to be wet for several hours every day.

    Adult Activities: Ruby Princess
    The nightly show was really for adults, or children near adult age. Casino, bingo, art, games at the pool-all adult. We went to Beatles night with our daughter but other than that we spent most of the evening hours in the pool before getting ready for our Late Dining. If we were traveling sans child we would have had a blast. No chance of doing much when the kids club closes at 10pm.

    Service: Disney Magic
    The service on the Ruby Princess is similar to Disney Magic. Dining staffs were really amazing and very thorough when it came to my gluten allergy. The stateroom attendant was cordial and thorough. The difference was the professionalism of the staff. We are not the Lord and Countess of Grantham but it was interesting to note that that staff of the ship eat at dining areas at the same times as guests. This probably makes sense for efficiency but the staff on our cruise tended to coral in large groups, take up several tables, and talk pretty loudly. We also witnessed PDA from several staff couples in uniform, gossip on the deck, and grossly male staff clearly ogling and pointing at 14-year-old girls. Having only traveled on Disney, this was all a shock.

    The Ship: Ruby Princess
    Ruby Princess is a newer ship, having been built in 2008 to Disney Magic’s 1998. The Internet service is noticeable faster than on the Disney Magic, easier to login and they have better packages of time available. The library was a true library with great books to check out for the cruise. The art for sale was nicer, with recognizable artists and even some Disney items. The movie under the stars outdoors theatre was a nice treat at the end of the night. It’s designed to keep the wind out and they provided warm blankets and warm cookies and milk during the show, along with popcorn and pizza. The gym is larger with more cardio machines available and Spin classes available on sea days.

    The Itinerary: Ruby Princess
    Compared to DCL’s Mediterranean itinerary, we definitely feel like we had a chance to see a larger more varied areas of Eastern Europe.

    The Verdict:

    We will stick with Disney for the next couple of years. We don’t regret choosing Princess over Disney for this particularly trip and are willing to consider another Princess cruise when DD is a little older (God help the man that ogles our DD in front of my Army DH) or for the right itinerary. However, we would definitely upgrade to a higher category room, which may negate some of the cost savings that influenced our decision to go to Princess in the first place.
     
  18. Wish I lived in Fl

    Wish I lived in Fl DIS Veteran

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    What a stressful start to a vacation!

    Thank you for the comparison of the cruise lines.

    I have my first non Disney cruise in March for our 30th anniversary. I tried so hard to make a Disney cruise work financially but had to give up and so we are travelling Celebrity Silhouette instead.

    For 2015 I have a Disney Fantasy cruise booked but depending on how the Celebrity cruise goes I may cancel DCL and choose a different cruise line.
     
  19. lovedisneycruise

    lovedisneycruise Earning My Ears

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    "Service: Disney Magic
    The service on the Ruby Princess is similar to Disney Magic. Dining staffs were really amazing and very thorough when it came to my gluten allergy. The stateroom attendant was cordial and thorough. The difference was the professionalism of the staff. We are not the Lord and Countess of Grantham but it was interesting to note that that staff of the ship eat at dining areas at the same times as guests. This probably makes sense for efficiency but the staff on our cruise tended to coral in large groups, take up several tables, and talk pretty loudly. We also witnessed PDA from several staff couples in uniform, gossip on the deck, and grossly male staff clearly ogling and pointing at 14-year-old girls. Having only traveled on Disney, this was all a shock."


    Thanks so much for your review! I am a newbie to this forum, having recently joined Cruise Critic too. I have only sailed Disney, and your comments above convince me it's right for me. I would be disgusted if I witnessed this on a cruise, and I would definitely email and share this with Princess.

    All 3 Disney cruises I have been on crewmembers have shown nothing but respect to us and each other. Disney definitely trains them right!
     
  20. kehonuamemano

    kehonuamemano Mouseketeer

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    The cost was the biggest factor for us. We booked another DCL vacation for less than the price difference of this trip! And it's being paid off with mostly Disney points. We sail on the magic
    in October on the southern caribe. Itinerary.
     
  21. JCinMN

    JCinMN Mouseketeer

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    I just saw this thread and didn't realize your decision was made last year. If I would have seen it in time, I would have heartily recommended Princess over DCL for the trips you were considering.

    I'm platinum on Princess and have done a Barcelona/Venice 12 day Med cruise (before I had a child) and a 7 day Alaksa cruise also on Princess, with a 5 year old child. As the Med is so port intensive, to me the ports are the most important thing, not the ship. That being said, I find the Princess ships a nice mix of nice without being over the top glitzy/gaudy. My DD LOVED the kids club on Princess (not as much on our HAL cruise). The club room are no where near as 'cool' as on a Disney ship (from the pics- our first sailing is coming up soon), but there is much more individual attention when the kids are in the club. My DD came home with tons of craft projects after each session, received a nice stuffed animal and a t-shirt, all with no extra charges (in addition to pirate 'gear', face paint and treasure one night). I know she will be impressed with the lab/club on the Fantasy, but I'm worried she will miss all she was able to do on Princess. [She enjoyed the HAL club on our New England/Canada trip, but not nearly as much as Princess, and she didn't receive a quarter of the loot she received on Princess.]

    We are the type who would always take our child with us on excursions, so needing a club that can watch a child the entire day while we are off the ship is not something we look for in a cruise, so we just care about the club availability on sea days and after dinner. Six of us missed the ship in Naples on a private excursion (long story) and I couldn't imagine that happening if I'd (or any of us had) left a child behind on board.

    Thanks for your comparison update. It was definitely helpful for me and I can't wait to see how DCL compares to my Princess experience.

    For others reading this, who may be considering a similar situation, please know that in all my cruises on Princess, I have never seen improper 'canoodling' among staff members, nor anyone but officers eating in the public dining rooms and Horizon Court (buffet) areas. The best service I've received has been on Princess ships. We'll see shortly how Disney compares. :-) I believe Princess has a great buffet (as you mentioned) that is open early to late. On other lines, I've had times I wanted a snack and had no options but room service. Not so on Princess.

    Hopefully you figured out that the twin beds can be easily converted into a 'king' upon your request. Just ask the room steward. They try to have it correct if you note your preference in your reservation, but will fix it immediately if it is wrong and you let them know. I find the Princess beds most comfortable (as a twin or a king) and it is nice to have the option to have either configuration, vs the single queen bed arrangement on Disney. I've cruised with friends before and sharing the main bed would have been problematic.

    I've always found the Princess cabins to be well laid out with plenty of storage and with a dorm size refrigerator in the room. I've been in the smallest inside room, had balcony cabins and a mini-suite. The Disney square footage of a balcony room seemed pretty comparable to the Princess balcony room, but it may depend upon the ship. The downside of Princess cabins is they do not have a nice curtain separating the sleeping area for the 3rd+ person(s) as Disney does.

    I'm guessing you'll still find Princess more affordable than Disney even if you upgrade your room. Plus, the itineraries on Princess will be much more varied as far as ports, which is a big reason why we cruise (to see new places).

    Anyway, glad you had a good trip after a bumpy start. Sailing in and out of Venice is a once in a lifetime event which may disappear soon, so I'm glad you were able to experience it.

    Can't wait to hear about the excursions you took, especially from your daughter's perspective, as mine is close in age.

    Thanks for the update!
     

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