The good, the bad and the not so impressed...

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by madisonsmom, Jan 6, 2006.

  1. madisonsmom

    madisonsmom Mouseketeer

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    First I know that I will probably get some flack for not being totally enthralled with our cruise experience as I know there are ALOT of DCL fanatics out there. But everyone has diffierent experiences, expectations and ideas about what they want from their vacation. And I will back this up by saying I was born and raised in Orlando, grew up with Disney in my back yard and LOVE everything Disney. I have also been in the hospitality/restaurant industry for over 12 years and know what it means to eat at fine(5 *)restaurants and have incredible service.

    We were VERY excited to take our 12/18/05 - 4 night cruise. It was our 1 cruise ever and we knew we wanted it to be Disney incase we weren't "cruisers" at least we would find out by doing it the fun way; I mean how can anything Disney not be fun? Well, we found out we are not "cruisers" and atleast we now know. My DH and I have stayed at all-inclusive resorts(AIR) and are not strangers to paying a good dollar for a good vacation to be catered too. We would rather save our $$ for a year or 2 and go on a great vacation then on several not so exciting ones, and have no problem paying for great food and great service while we are at home. We had heard from so many friends, family, and websites/message boards how incredible cruises are, but to us they do not compare(all around) to being at a resort.

    The Cast Members were all very friendly and did a good job(well except one, a room service attendant, wish I could remember his name but he was from a slavic/east. european country, tall, short blondish hair and very rude) . I can't say that any went above and beyond what you would expect for basic good service, except for our assistant server Evandro who was excellent at keeping the kids entertained during lengthy(2hrs.+) dinners. Other than that we didn't have anyone stick out as doing a GREAT job.

    The Food was ok, nothing above a basic restaurant, seafood is better than Red Lobster(as I would expect it to be) but definitely NOT 4 or 5 star food. Maybe a 3 at best, and that is pushing it, we had 2 good nights(AP and PC) and 2 not so good nights(T and AP){Yes we had 2 nights at AP but different experiences on each night which we thought was bizarre). We did make it to Palo's for brunch, of course you have to pay extra for and that is the type of food we were expecting for at least dinner every night if not at every meal. I would recm'd that you eat there as much as possible if you want EXCELLENT food. This is the type of food that we were expecting at our regular meals since it was most comparable to the food you would get at an AIR(and it definitely would not cost extra at one). For the walk up restaurants by the pool the veggie burgers were horrible but the fries were great! We had breakfast in the room every morning and that was enjoyable, so can't comment on breakfast in the restaurants. Lunch was ok, not much variety and food was pretty bland. We ate at Parrot Cay 1st day, BBB one day and by the pool 2 days.

    We do not regret taking the cruise, our DD5 had the most incredible time with her 3 other friends that were on the boat too and we made some good memories, but we will not go on another cruise. The weather was crappy, our 1 day at CC it rained, so our only day at a beach was ruined, roll of the dice, but when you are on a cruise you are at the mercy of the schedule and don't have a second chance, per se, for another beach day. We did have one nice day at port in Nassau, we opted to stay on the boat and utilze the empty pool which was relaxing, but if we would have had access/knowledge to the upcoming weather we would have gone to a beach there instead of waiting until we went to CC. Unfotunately no weather channel on the TV in the room for the days ahead. With the crappy weather brought rough seas, so 2 of the nights we sat there and watched the curtains swaying during the shows , the shutters during dinner clinking around, and walking into walls when I hadn't had any cocktails yet, LOL!!! :goodvibes Another reason why I didn't think it was worth the $$. Guess I am just not a good gambler and would rather keep my feet on a sandy beach where if I wake up feeling like I have a hangover I atleast had the cocktails and good times to back it up and not a rocking boat that made me that way :rotfl: !! Even some experienced cruisers that travelled with us had problems with seasickness and said it was the worst they have ever had it, and they have been on over 4+ cruises. Although none of us vomitted, :eek: I definitely kept a headache and upset stomach for much of the time(except when we were docked in port of course!) Oh well, too bad we can't predict the weather when it comes to vacations, heehee!

    We were expecting it to be a little more relaxing than it turned out to be. We didn't expect the character greetings to be so time restrained and structured. On the DVD and brochures it shows them strolling around the boat, which definitely didn't happen, and when they were they were going to a destination and didn't stop to say hi, you would get a quick wave. There was alot going on, almost too much, especially in the evening. It would have been nice to have some afternoon dance parties or family karoake so the younger kids could enjoy that and the parents would have more down time in the evening after the late seating for dinner. It was rushed going from the show, to dinner and then going to dance, pirate night, etc for a little while before getting our DD in bed which was usually around 11ish because we wouldn't get out of dinner till 10 every night, our service was slow at dinner. Don't know if it had to do with our group size(14 all together), but being a server, I know I can get a group that size out in under 2 hours without them feeling rushed. Especially when there are four 5yr olds and an 18 mo old at the table. We had alot of lag time at the table where empty plates sat in front of us for quite awhile. Our only down time was in the morning and that was because we had breakfast sent to the room. Otherwise it was hard to find a "quiet" place on the boat. I was surprised at the location of the adult only pool because there were constantly kids being loud running by to goto the Goofy and Mickey pools. Not all that relaxing...only went there once because of that.

    Things that we loved and enjoyed was being able to come in so much contact with the characters, which would never happen at any of the parks. The family activities, such as family karoake, dance parties, pirate night, sail away party at Goofy pool and the shows. My DD5 still talks about doing all those things and would not have that experience anywhere else, not even at WDW. So that I will always hold dear to my heart. But is it worth $3,000.00 again? For us who can only do a big trip like that every 2 to 3 years, not really. If we had a large wealth of cash to dole into at anytime, then yeah, of course! I would rather give her a new and different memory to put in her dreams at night.

    When all is said and done and with what you pay for to go on the DCL cruise PLUS what you spend on board and you are paying $3000.00 for 4 nights; I was expecting that INCREDIBLE service and food and have several people stick out and be memorable like we have had when we have paid MUCH LESS for MORE nights at all-inclusive resorts and had food and service that we still talk about(even from different and multiple trips) and now dream about because we haven't been able to find anything as good. We think you definitely get more for your money at an AIR, especially if you are a drinker, which we are and enjoy excursions and sports, which we do.

    Overall, am I glad that we went, yes. Is there a little bit of me that is disappointed? definitely. Do I regret it, no. Will I do it again? not unless someone else is paying, lol! Did I make good family memories? definitely. But I think from now on we will keep our feet on land, in the sand, placed on the ever so slightly moving earth and off of the rocky boat that leaves you feeling yucky on a vacation that we worked really hard to save up for and relied on being able to have a feel good, fun time with some RnR time too.

    Looks like next time we see the mouse it will be at WDW... Hopefully sooner than later! :earboy2:
     
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  3. jeast

    jeast DIS Veteran

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    thanks for posting! It's important to get differing opinions.
     
  4. WDWLVR

    WDWLVR <font color=green>DVC @ The Boardwalk</font><br><f

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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us. Cruising definately isn't for everyone. We enjoy it as do many others but it is good for those who haven't cruised to see the other side of the coin as well.

    I'm glad you got some wonderful memories out of it and at least you can say now that it isn't your cup of tea.
     
  5. clovely

    clovely Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for taking the time to post all of that. We're planning our first cruise in March and I have really never wanted to go on a cruise for a lot of the reasons you listed. My cousin and his wife went on a cruise recently, after having spent their honeymoon at an AIR, they hated it! They hated the rough seas and felt nickeled and dimed to death. If it was just me and dh, we would be wanting to drink and have more fun, and I really don't think a regular cruise would be fun for us at all - at least not after our last two trips to AIR's which really is the only way to vacation as far as I'm concerned!

    My kids are the perfect ages for this - 5 and 6. And, ironically as you said, someone else is paying for this one! It was my dad's Christmas gift to us. We are very excited but I for one (I hope dh) am going with an entirely different set of expectations than when dh and I went to AIRs. This will be something our kids will never forget. But the next family vacation we take, when we're doling out the cash, will be to Beaches, I'm sure.

    But I can see that while I'm planning and looking at these boards, I am getting really really excited myself. Thanks for the reality check. All the things you listed I would kinda expect on a cruise (v. AIR) but in the excitement I need to keep my own expectations in check and remember this is THEIR vacation and will be a lot different than the ones dh and I take that are just for us.
     
  6. KKB

    KKB DIS Veteran

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    We had friends go to an AIR last spring and had a rotten experience(food and weather issues)...so ya never know.

    I have many similar experiences to you. We cruised Princess last year as a couple, and found Disney to not be worth the extra 30% for adults. Certainly the only way to go for kids.

    Cruising was VERY relaxing when we took it on Princess...something about the kid factor, the Disney factor and the 26 family members, and some illness, eliminated the relaxation factor!

    Palo WAS wonderful, and the other food is average to good--to be expected when you serve hundreds virtually all at once.

    I do want to take a Disney cruise again, say in 5 years, when youngest can be independent, and WITHOUT entire family. I think it will be more relaxing!

    You may enjoy a cruise more w/o the kids...but there are a few that are not cruising buffs. I will say, though, that if this had been my first cruise, I don't think I would be all that excited about doing it again! But after our first one, I am hooked--just more as a couple for now!

    Kris
     
  7. madisonsmom

    madisonsmom Mouseketeer

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    Yes, we definitely wanted it to be a true family vacation and the focus was mainly on what our DD5 wanted to do since our regular everday lives are work-filled {and focused on what the adults need to do} and not able to have as much family time(with DH, DD and me) together as we would want. For this it was great, because we could do all the things that DD5 wanted and really enjoy it through her eyes and wonder~no pun intended, lol~ She didn't want to be in the kids club as much as we thought she would which didn't leave much RnR for us adults.

    Maybe if DD5 was older, or we had more cruises under our belt and didn't feel like we needed to go see a show, or make it to an event that was going on, then it would have been more relaxing and enjoyable; which is what I was expecting a little more of.

    Thanks for the supportive replies, that is what is great about the DIS! :flower3:
     
  8. Muushka

    Muushka <font color=red>I usually feel like I just stepped

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    I appreciate your honesty with your cruise experience. I hope this thread stays nice and friendly!

    I agree with your assessment 100%. We have done 2 DCL cruises (in fact we could have waved at one another on Dec 22 because we boarded that day).

    The first cruise (weather/sea conditions) was very much like yours. I remember thinking that we paid all this money to be tortured?? And ours was a 7 day! I did NOT want to do another cruise for fear that we would have a repeat disaster. But I kept coming to the boards and reading about how great the cruises were and I just wanted to 'conquer' the cruise fear that I (actually we, husband also) had.

    So this past year I noticed that the Wonder was doing a 4 day that included the weekend (unusual). We own DVC and points are so high on the weekend and we did NOT want to do another 7 day and a 3-day seemed so short (and no brunch at Palo!). So we went ahead and booked it.

    I have to tell you, I was so nervous about the cruise. But I also have to tell you that we had an awesome cruise. I am soooooo glad we did it. I can finally say "I didn't want to get off the ship"!!!

    Unfortunately I suffered (and still to an extent) the vertigo that some experience after getting off a cruise. Last cruise (the 7 day 30 foot wave one) I had vertigo for 3 weeks following the cruise. I am just now (13 or so days after the cruise) beginning to get my "land legs". It is for that reason that we probably won't be cruisers (unless I can find some cure for this!).

    I just wanted to let you know that yes, there is a chance of a good cruise after a 'bad cruise'!
     
  9. lmok

    lmok DIS Veteran

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    Ok, i feel dumb for asking but what is Air"s ? :confused3

    Lisa
    :earsgirl: ::MinnieMo ::MinnieMo
     
  10. eblack0409

    eblack0409 DIS Veteran

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    It is definately true that cruising isn't for everyone...I am a cruiser.....DH has never been on a cruise and I am taking him next year for Valentine's Day on a Disney Cruise....I figure, if he doesn't like the cruise, at least he'll be surrounded by Disney....I am also giving him 2 days at the parks when we get off the ship, that way if he doesn't like the cruise, at least he will have 2 days at the parks.....and I know he'll LOVE that!
     
  11. madisonsmom

    madisonsmom Mouseketeer

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    Imok....All-Inclusive Resorts...where you pay one price and EVERYTHING is included, all food, tips, drinks, activities(such as golf, scuba diving, snorkeling, sunset cruise, etc), and some excursions.

    Muushka...That is encouraging because that is how we felt too about paying all this $$ to be left feeling so yucky. Luckily it didn't take us quite as long to start feeling better, but it did take us about 2 days. Our DD5 got didn't get sick till we got back on land. She never complained on the boat, but after we were on land for about 30 minutes she let it all go! :crazy2: Think she was still moving but the ground wasn't, lol!

    Maybe after some time goes by we might change our minds, but this is our intial thoughts after coming off of the boat.
     
  12. lmok

    lmok DIS Veteran

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    Wow, I guess we were lucky enough not to get sick. The first time we went it was in August and then we are going again in June. I think I like this AIR idea though. Maybe on the cruise it depends when you go? I will be checking into the AIR!!! :cool1:

    Lisa
    :earsgirl: ::MinnieMo ::MinnieMo
     
  13. miatamel

    miatamel DIS Veteran

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    Can some of you that posted about wonderful experiences at AIR tell me where they were? I would love to do one because I hate worrying about wear to eat 3x a day on vacation (and I DO NOT want to cook on vacation!) so I love the thought of an AIR. That is why I did a Disney cruise in November and we LOVED it but DH wanted something a bit more relaxing next time. I looked up different places before booking DCL last year but I never really could find a place I was sure about that would suit us and two children, 2 & 4. Anyway, I would love to know where it was y'all enjoyed so much, if you don't mind, so I can check them out!
     
  14. clovely

    clovely Mouseketeer

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    Dh and I have done Sandals twice - Nassau, Bahamas and Whitehouse, Jamaica. Both trips were amazing! We love Sandals and would love to go to all of them. We're planning to take the kids to Beaches too.
     
  15. Tarabra

    Tarabra DIS Veteran

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    Sorry to hear about your experience. I really do hope you give it another chance. The cooler weather and rough seas really can be a downer. We've done 5 DCL, usually go in Apr. or May, and 1 RCCL. The RCCL was in Jan. and what a bummer with rough seas and not being able to be out on the deck in the sunshine. It really makes a difference. The weather is always amazing when we go, and the rates have usually dropped after spring break. You probably did feel rushed on the 4 day trying to get everything accomplished. The 7 days are so relaxing. As far as dinner is concerned. Yea, we usually don't get out until 10:15 w/ the late seating, but I guess we just utilized the time to get to know our tablemates and hear of their cruising experiences. This year, we will have an 18 month old w/ us, so I'm sure our tune will change as her patience level does. As far as the food, I guess I never really expected 5 star food. A lot of it is an aquired taste, but I like to try different things. And as someone mentioned, I think they do a pretty good job of serving all those people. I know someone who went and was disappointed by the food too because they are just meat and potatoes people. So, to me, the food is better than most, to others, it's not so good. Not really a big deciding factor in our decision to cruise. Breakfast is my favorite part of the day. Not just the eating, but the total amazement of going to bed and waking up in a gorgeous tropical place. The best is St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Too bad you didn't experience sitting out on the deck enjoying it. Maybe you had a verandah. We've never gotten room service, so I don't know how that compares, but I love to try everything they have and wouldn't miss breakfast for the world.

    So, don't give up hope on the DCL. We've done 5 without kids, I'm NOT a Disney Fanatic, and I wouldn't trade my experience for the world.
     
  16. pppiglet

    pppiglet DIS Cast Member<br><font color=deeppink>Don't like

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    Your trip report is great. You told the truth about your experience. Although we had a great time on our first DCL cruise, it wasn't all I thought it was going to be after spending a year reading all about it on this board. I guess I hyped myself out about it because everyone was saying such great things about the service and such and when we got to go finally I was kinda let down a bit. But.....we did book another on board and we know what to expect for next time. I won't be let down. The verandah was great and was one of the highlights for us. Meeting the other Disers was also the best so I highly recommend the meets board! So I really appreciate when people tell their honest opinions.
     
  17. madisonsmom

    madisonsmom Mouseketeer

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    We went to Couples Resort in Jamaica twice. They are an adults only resort. We are checking into Beaches(which is owned by Sandals) and FDR Resorts which is also in Jamaica. Both are all-inclusive, and I have heard good things about them both. Trip advisor is a good place to get some varying opinions on it. I think one of those 2 family resorts will be our next pick, unless something new opens up in the next year or so. Good Luck on the search...there are lots of options out there.

    Also, over on the Budget Board there is a thread about various family AIR located in different places in the carribean, might be a good place to hear about others experiences too.
     
  18. vacationaddict

    vacationaddict Earning My Ears

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    Madisonsmom- What AIRs have you done before??
     
  19. vacationaddict

    vacationaddict Earning My Ears

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    oops someone asked at the same time!
     
  20. madisonsmom

    madisonsmom Mouseketeer

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    Thanks Tarabra for the encouragement! I definitely love food, not a picky eater, unlike DH who is definitely a meat and potatoes guy. I guess just from seeing so many things on this board about how wonderful the food is and the service is we had higher expectations than maybe we should have. But I guess it has to be kept in perspective because what one person may consider incredible food another may definitely not. Being someone in the restaurant industry and working for fine restaurants I appreciate great food. And having eaten at some of the restaurant at WDW I was expecting better food and service. But all in all, we didn't starve then service was fine(not great) just not worth the money in my opinion.

    Definitely wish we would have had the verandah to enjoy, but we were in a cat.9 with a beautiful view from an incredible window and ate breakfast in the room while gazing out at the water. Definitely a good way to wake up! The fresh salt air would have been even better :sunny:
     
  21. tinkerbellmagic

    tinkerbellmagic don't hate me because I loved the castle cake

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    Thanks for your honest report. I love DCL, but I have to agree with you about the food.

    On our 2003 cruise, out of seven dinners, one dinner was excellent, five dinners were very good, and one dinner was not very good.

    I was expecting much of the same for our 2005 cruise, but was surprised when out of seven dinners, one of the dinners was excellent and six of them were not very good. But I should add that my teenage daughter had all the vegetarian and meatless pasta selections and enjoyed all of them.

    Topsiders food has been described on this board as marginal, which I think is pretty accurate. The desserts are pretty good throughout the ship... no complaints there. :teeth:

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