Very disappointed withe the kid's programming

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by dmdeitz, Nov 14, 2001.

  1. dmdeitz

    dmdeitz Earning My Ears

    Nov 14, 2001
    First, we are as much Disney fanatics as most anyone out there. So we were really looking forward to the 4 night cruise on the Wonder. But as hard as it is to believe, the kid's programming (we have a 5 year old and an 8 year old) is very lame. They had 3 - 4 true activities each day lasting about an hour each. The rest of the day, we and our kids felt it was glorified babysitting - the kids got the run of the 2 rooms dedicated to the kids, but there was no structure or leadership. And as much as Disney says there's almost an entire deck for the kids, they seemed compelled to move them all over the ship for most events and meals. Between taking roll call before and after the moves and the actual moving of dozens of kids several decks for each event, there was barely any time for the few interesting programs. For example, the kids rooms are on deck 5. They have to get them up to deck 9 for meals and then back again. Why not bring the food to the kids?! And many of the programs they talk about on their website are for the 7 night cruise only. We were on the 4 night and rather than have those interesting programs, the kids had the chance to watch movies. Wow!

    I have heard that Royal Caribbean has a very good program. We didn't have any friends that went on the Disney cruise yet, but we figured they had to be the best. We learned a lesson and will be trying RC on next year's cruise. If you and your kids are looking for an intensive program that will keep your kids active and interested, our experience with the Disney program (our first cruise) shows you'll be disappointed.
  2. Michelle

    Michelle <font color=darkgreen><i>"It's like Lord of the Fl

    Apr 21, 2000
    Hi dmdeitz, and welcome to the Cruise Board. :)

    I'm sorry you were disappointed with the children's programming. You're right that there are less activities on the 4-night cruise than the 7-night; with the 7-night there are three sea days so they beef up the programming.

    My 8-year-old will be taking her 4th cruise with Disney in December and she absolutely loves the programming. The "free time" to just play with the toys, games, computers, etc. is actually just as important (and fun!) to her as the structured activities. We literally have to drag her out of the kid's clubs. :)

    They do move the kids around quite a bit to give them variety, and because of food handling and safety issues they have to feed them in the buffet (the kid's clubs don't have the proper food handling equipment).

    Overall we continue to choose Disney in large part due to the extensive kid's programming and hours that it is offered. You won't find many cruise lines with programs open from 9:00 am till midnight or 1:00 am, or that will feed kids in the program.

    To each their own, though, and good luck with your future cruises! :)
  3. fred ferdlap

    fred ferdlap Mouseketeer

    Nov 5, 2001
    I agree!
    THE DISNEY KIDS Program is terrible on the 3 day Wonder for older kids 7-12yrs old (our 2nd cruise) . My kids DD 8 and dd10 hated it. (Both times) They loved the RCL kids program and have many memories. No memories of the DCL kids program..... I't lame
    Case in point lots of FREE time, meal time, and going to and from activities. No real substance.

    Whats up with that DISNEY?

    I really like DCL but did not want this to hamper things, besides
    It is really a babysitter service. Kids this age want activities.
    the girls are getting older and don't really need to be monitored full time. We bought the Family radios and let the girls have the run of the ship. They would turn off the radios in the movies and call us when it was over. Actually we spent a lot of time with them and found they got tired by 9:30 or 10:00pm and they went to sleep in the cabin. We would go sit up on deck and if they needed something they would use the radio. We ran into the herds of kids from the clubs going to and from their activities. Most looked really tired!

    On RCL they encouraged the kids to attend and even gave prizes for attendance. It was more personal and smaller groups. DCL is a mass herd, case in point the line out of beach balnket of kids spans from deck 9 to deck 5 going to and from dinner on the stair case. Many people drop their kids off full time in the program and go off and have their own time. During the day I found I wanted to spend time with my kids. Aside from SPA time it did not seem necessary for the kids to be in the program although it appeared full!.
    6yr to 12. Toddlers are a whole different story. Movies and videos and most of them are happy with that! Mom and Dad usually need the break!.

    Bottom line the kids are the judge of this and these are their comments. I had wished they would have enjoyed the program more and given us more free time... but I was not going to force them into the program.
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  5. lookingforward

    lookingforward DIS Veteran

    Mar 23, 2001
    I don't know about Disney cruises yet. But we sailed on the RCCL Voyager last November and were very unhappy with the kids program on that ship. Because the Voyager was so large there were hundreds of kids. The Voyager's kids area is pretty to look at but very small in space. And the counselors were unmotivated and whenever I went in to check on my kids they were all seated up front talking while the kids played in the rear of the room. They did have some fun activities around the ship and the younger kids (5 to 8) really seemed to enjoy the dress-up and singing activities. But my 10 year old was bored.

    I think that the 10 to 12 year old crowd is a hard sell. They are not old enough to really explore the ship unattended but they are too old to be happy with movies, singing and make-believe play time.
  6. LindaDVC

    LindaDVC DIS Veteran

    Aug 19, 1999
    My son sailed at ages 10 and 12.
    He was happier as a 10 yr old but enjoyed it both trips.

    He liked the free time to play on the computers and other activities! We let him decide when he wanted to be in the lab and he was there almost all the time! We made him come to a couple of dinners but he chose to stay with the kids for most meals!

    We also had to make him come with us to the islands. I felt seeing Nassau, St Thomas, and St Martin were learning experiences he shouldn't miss but given his choice he would have stayed on board. We all hated Nassau but he agrees that he was glad he saw St Thomas and St Martin.

    We were very pleased with the DCL kids program.

  7. DVC'96

    DVC'96 Mouseketeer

    May 5, 2000
    Just returned from the 11/4 Wonder and I think that weather or not your kids enjoy the programming has to do with their age and maturity level.
    My 3 yr old loved hanging around with the "big kids". The counselors made a big fuss over her and while she didn't spend alot of time there-she really liked it.
    My son, 7 was a different story. He was the oldest age they have in the club, and he normally plays with kids a little older than him, so he wasn't real happy to get his picture taked hugging Tigger. With him we were more careful to send him when there was an activity he would enjoy or if they were going to the lab were he could make Flubber or play on the computer.
    My daughter 10 liked the lab and just hanging out and playing board games with the kids she met. Some events that looked like fun, like the pool party one evening were cancelled because of the bad weather which was dissappointing, but she kept busy doing things with us or going to movies, etc.

    Not every kid is going to love the clubs, but they have a very friendly staff and took good care fo the kids.
  8. ldinCT

    ldinCT Earning My Ears

    Oct 18, 2001
    The facilities were incredible, as were the size of the space. But, from listening to my DS(8) the planned activities were not that interesting. We sailed on Royal Caribbean over the summer and while the space was quite small, they had a lot of interesting activities - pillow case coloring, "sleepovers", pirate night etc.
  9. callahanjulie10

    callahanjulie10 DIS Veteran

    Jul 30, 2000
    Unfortunatly I have to agree with the childrens programming for the 10-12s. My DD has been in the 6-8's in 99, 8-9 in 00 and in the 10-12s in 01. She loved the club but when she moved up to the lab she did not enjoy it nearly as much. It is good thing that every time we cruise my SIL's family and the twiceasnice twins have gone!

    When DD was in club they did really neat activities such as have a pajama party and decorate pillow cases that they got to take with them- Tigger and lots of characters showed up without waiting in lines- took pics with each child and the child would decorate the frame and got to take the pic and frame home- they got really cute lunch bags and sports bottles, etc. There was always something neat going on- I did let her pick and choose what activities she wanted to do- she didn't go all day and night!

    When she moved up to the lab, they had much more free time to play computers, listen to music, play with legos, etc. That is fine BUT she can do that at home. The activities that they did plan were cancelled or did not go as planned. The private pool party was in the Mickey pool where you really can't swim- I know the slide is fun but not at night when it is cool and you are wearing a bathing suit waiting for a turn! She and my DN and the twins played on their own most of the time. AND how many times can one kid make flubber!

    We are going on #4 May 25, 2002 but I have no plans for her to go to the lab unless they make some changes.
  10. J.P.

    J.P. DVC/DIS Veteran-92

    May 11, 2000
    I went on the four day cruise in April and My 10 year and 12 year old ( girl) had a blast. They never ate with us because they were too busy in the lab doing activities or playing. My kids are bugging us on when we will go on the next cruise. They also meet alot of friends that they still stay in contact with by e-mail. I thienk the activities for the kids on the DISNEY CRUISE are great. JP:bounce: :pinkbounc ;) :D :cool:
  11. dmdeitz

    dmdeitz Earning My Ears

    Nov 14, 2001
    Yes, the ships are beautiful. It's how they run the ship / kid's program that I take issue with. I'd love to know if those that said their kid's enjoyed the club and lab - would you say your kids need / want / like an intensive program or are they more independent? i.e. Put them in that well stocked, very interesting room with other kids and they are in heaven? Or do they prefer / need / want a structured environment with activities, leadership, goals, etc. I feel the cruise provides the former and my kids (and others that took issue with the program) seem to want the latter.
    I say that the cruise could do both - the desks are staffed all the time. Let the kids that want to read, watch TV, hack on the PCs and climb on the pirate ship do that. And also offer a more intensive program for those that want that! And why do I keep reading that the Magic has a better (more intensive / filled with activities) program than the Wonder? On any given day, both ships, I would think, should have the same programs?
  12. pmcue

    pmcue Earning My Ears

    Nov 5, 2001
    We were on the 7 night over thanksgiving and my 6 and 8 year old did not overly enjoy the kids area.

    The first night my 6 year old was dying to go, but the next day he seemd bored with it. My 8 year old (who loves these types of programs) said she was bored.

    It got better the last couple of nights, as they made friends. A couple of observations.

    1 - A lot of families have other family and freinds with them, so if you are traveling alone, it may be difficult for your child to make a friend. I think Disney should start out the activities with something to get the kids talking.
    2 - They hated the moving around, as they would have them sit for 15 minutes as they did role call. We started trying to time it so we would get there before they lined em up and giving them the option to come with us.
    3 - I was very un-impressed with the consulers. My kids were probably in the programs for at least 12 hours over the time and I am not sure they every knew the name of a consuler or if the consulers knew who they were. Usually in a program like this the kids idolize the consulers.
    4 - lastly, the activities need to be more focused and age appropriate.
  13. dmdeitz

    dmdeitz Earning My Ears

    Nov 14, 2001
    It's nice to read that I'm not expecting too much. Look at the navigators (people post them on the web if you didn't keep them like I did). They leave 15 - 30 minutes to move the kids around! On a ship that was designed from the ground up for kids!? The lab / club are on the 5th deck. And the food is on the 9th?! Up and down 2 times a day just for that! Hopefully the 3rd ship (someone said Michael Eisner said he'd like a fleet of 10!) they'll move the club / lab closer or make provisions for feeding the kids on the 5th deck? And with an entire deck for kids, why move the kids to the lounge on the 3rd deck, then back up again?! Do the math (we started to) - they spend 30% taking roll call, being moved and then roll call again to make sure they didn't loose anyone. What a waste. Hmmm, I just wrote a letter to Matt Ouimet (the president of the cruise line) and George Parker, a manager in guest relations. Post it here?
  14. dmdeitz

    dmdeitz Earning My Ears

    Nov 14, 2001
    Mr. Ouimet & Mr. Parker :

    Things always seem to come in waves - we were starting to put our experience with the cruise of November 4th behind us as the questions from friends asking 'how was the trip' have abated, being that we're back home just about a month now and we had already posted notes on message boards:


    here and


    But then Monday I got the letter from Mr. Parker acknowledging our complaints with the kids program, but not saying ours was an unusual trip or that Disney feels anything was really wrong with the program. And today I got an email saying Mr. Ouimet will be in a chat room tonight. I felt a need to write.

    I am a Disney shareholder as an investment, my kids are shareholders for the novelty of the stock certificate hanging in their rooms and for the love of the whole Disney experience and, overall, we like to think (and our friends all know) that we are a good example of how the word 'fan' is a derivative of the word FANATIC, when it concerns anything Disney. So it's really upsetting to have to warn others about your Cruise line on the web and to friends. And It's very frustrating to want to take a cruise again next November but have to look elsewhere. Very good friends said that the kids' program was the highlight of their Royal Caribbean cruise recently. I cite that feeling when I tell friends and family that the kids' program was the LOW point of OUR cruise. And of course, that is met with disbelief - how can that be?! Not Disney! Sad but true.

    I keep feeling that by pointing out that something that we feel is broke, you will fix it. But both my wife and I, speaking to the kid's program manager on the boat, the activities director in Celebration and in Mr. Parker's letter are met with apologies, but a defense that the system is not broke. I know - on those message boards where I posted my notes, you'll find people that are as much fans of the kids program as we are disaffected. You can't cater to everyone all the time? I met someone on the ship - the grandmother of a 3 generation family on the cruise. Her Key to the World was gold... ours was (plain) blue and said she had been on 22 cruises and this was the worst. Some of the things she took issue with were the quality of the food (while we felt it was the best we've had in a long time, even on land) and not being escorted to their stateroom (we wouldn't have wanted that - we knew to head right to the buffet! And the rooms weren't ready anyway). So can you cater to everyone? Maybe yes, for the kids program? I think - if you want glorified babysitting most of the day, the desks in the lab and club are always staffed - let those kids that want to just hang out, do that. And those that want a more intense / stimulating program can still have that!? And with smaller groups taking part in the participation activities, it'll be kids that really want to be in there. I think the level of attentiveness, motivation and enjoyment of the kids in both programs will be greater. And with less kids in the more intensive program, there will be less lost time taking roll call and moving them around the ship. Which is another issue we had - how much time is lost taking roll call, reminding the kids about the rules - no check in / out during transitions, then the actual move up and down 4 decks!? So much for a ship that was designed with kids in mind, with (almost) an entire deck dedicated to kids, I think the marketing materials say!

    Our trip, as nice as the ship was, as friendly, overall, as the castmembers were, will be remembered mostly for how the last night typified the entire cruise - my kids (and us) were so displeased with the kids program that they didn't want to go in there again (and I couldn't blame them). So do we keep our reservation at Palo? Do we take the kids with us (we were told we can't)? In the end, while my wife and I ate dinner at Palo, we set our 5 & 8 year olds loose on the ship. They wander the ship with a Quartermasters card, room key and a ham radio to call us if they needed us / got into trouble. A magical Disney experience?! I don't think so. It's experiences like ours that, along with the rocky economy, will drive the number of guest on Disney ships even lower than the 2,048 (73%) on our trip. ANd we all lose
  15. fred ferdlap

    fred ferdlap Mouseketeer

    Nov 5, 2001
    As posted before our kids did not like the kids program. 11/1/2001
    I just did not go as dmdeitz and try to change the program... but not a bad idea. The program is Broken and the judge and jury are the kids which don't want to return night after night.

    To me it's a cattle call of kids. Now keep in mind that RCL charges for kids after a certain hour. like 10pm and it's about $4-5 an hour. So there is motivation for them to keep your kids in the program. Who do you think get's that money!! (The counselors)
    On RCL,we would show up at 10pm to pick up the kids and they refused to leave. We paid the money and had fun knowing the kids were having fun!! On DCL the kids were mad we were not there earlier!!
    The staff is not MOTIVATED Thus we suffer.

    Mr. Ouimet & Mr. Parker : Go on RCL and see what I mean. the rest of the boat is uncomparible to DCL but how has DCL failed in the area of a kids program. It trivial!

    Last year on the Wonder 12/00 our younger DD was in the room where they plop kids in from of videos! she was 6 and the staff paged you for the littlest thing. I'll put money on it. Less kids less hassle. NO MOTIVATION to do better. It only takes one staff member!
    We love DCL and plan to go 10/02. LEt's fix the kids program.

    RCL 10/00
    DCL 12/00, 11/01
  16. ChiTownZee

    ChiTownZee "You have no idea what I'm capable of."

    Jul 31, 2000
    I have been reading this thread as an observer because we haven't cruised yet so I don't have any first hand experience with the clubs. My question is, and this is probably rhetorical, if the stance is taken that the kids programming is BROKEN, and HAS to be fixed, what happens to all the children who enjoy the program the way it is now. I know there are more than a few children that adore the program as it stands. So if it changes, won't THEY think it's broken then? I think and endless cycle would be started, with never having everybody happy.
    Like I said, I haven't gone yet, but from what I read, and knowing my child, I think that she WILL like the clubs as they are. I'm sure there is a chance she won't like it or there are problems, but my daughter has always been very social, and also has never been a child that needed to have entertainment provided for her 24 hours a day, so I think the mix of her personality will mix well with DCL.
    I'm sorry for those that have children that didn't enjoy the programming. I know I would be frustrated as it's one of the draws to DCL for us.
  17. ckr

    ckr I'm Back! And Cruising Magic 1/19/2008!!!

    Mar 27, 2000
    The program is NOT broken for LOTS and LOTS of kids. (ChiTownZee) But maybe there IS a personality type that it does not do well for. (dmdietz)

    That said, do I think it needs to be 'fixed'? Not in the same sense that dmdietz thinks.

    Are some counselors better than others? Yes -- they are human. Do I wish they were more attentive and knew my DDs names and were idolized by them? Yes, but that's very unrealistic unless I had planned on leaving my kids in the clubs the entire cruise. The kids are free to be checked in/out as you, the parent/family, decide based on ALL the activities on the ship.

    I was actually pleased with the coordination of the activities so that we did not have to always struggle between doing a family activity outside of the club and DDs wanting to stay in the club. (This is just an ancedotal observance, but someone may want to compare some of the Navigators to see if they really do seem to be coordinated....)

    I don't know if dual activities for the different personalities would work, though. My DD8 loved the club and enjoyed both the structured activities AND the free time. We found it to be a great balance.

    One thing to remember, and it may be magnified to those that come to the ship from a visit to WDW: The cruise is an entirely different atmosphere. Much more laid back. The pace is "Island Time" and not every moment SHOULD be structured, IMO. I think the free time is valuable/necessary in the kids clubs just like it is for the adults.

    If your kids don't like an activity (or lack of a structured activity), the parents should take them out of the club and do something else. We did this with our 3yr old DD who did not like the STRUCTURED activities. She liked the free time much better. And we arranged our Palos/adult activities around her schedule.

    (What I'm about to say is NOT an attack on you personally, dmdietz, or anyone else here, but rather a warning for future cruisers so they will not be disappointed. Please don't be offended. I can't think of a warm/fuzzy way to say this.....)
    Disney does not market "Child-free vacations". They market "Family vacations". While you may find that your child LOVES the kids programs and you are left with LOTS of adult time, do not EXPECT that. EXPECT a family vacation where you will not be accosted by masses of drunken "adults", you will not be barred from enjoying a majority of the ship due to casinos/bars, and you will not be unable to share a dance with your kids. When we were on Carnival and the kids did not want to go to the kids club, we were left with virtually NOTHING to do. No family bingo, no Studio Seas, no family pool (the 6" deep turtle pool was the only one not overrun with hormones!), no family board game tournament, etc. With Disney, there are LOTS of alternatives to the clubs.

    Disney is a great Family vacation, IMO, during which you may luck out and get some great adult time. We knew DD3 would be better in the free time, so we checked out the Club schedule and did our Palo ressies for during one of those times. We might have been mistaken and had to cancel our ressies, but it still would be a great FAMILY vacation. JMHO.
  18. callahanjulie10

    callahanjulie10 DIS Veteran

    Jul 30, 2000
    I don't know if the whole program is broken but I do know that the 10-12 year old program is. My DD enjoyed the 5-8 program the best. I let her pick and choose her own activities and when those were over I would go to the club and pick her up- sometimes she was ready to leave and sometimes she was not. Some days it seemed like she stayed almost the entire day and some days she only went for an houtr or two. I did not force her to go and it was the most wonderful feeling I had felt since I gave birth to her! Seriously- I was a stay at home mom until she started school and for the first time I felt secure that when she was in the club that I did not have to worry about her not having a good time or getting sick, etc. I was totally relaxed for the first time in seven years. I knew and she knew that if she was ready to leave or she was sick, tired, etc all she had to do was beep me and I would be there in a flash. She NEVER beeped me the whole cruise!
    The next year we went and she was in the 8-9 program in the LAB. She did not care for the lab as much as she liked the club. We still did the pick your own activities but she was not excited to go hence I was not nearly as relaxed. My DNephew went on this cruise and she had him to play with so things were ok.
    We went on our 3rd cruise this past Labor Day week and she moved to the 10-12 program. This program was a JOKE. Everyday they stormed the lab which in lay terms means that there are no structured activities going on you just come in and listen tomusic, play the computers, etc. She does not enjoy doing these things at home and I can tell you she refused to go! On the second night she found an activity that she thought she would enjoy so I took her up to area that the activity was supposed to take place in and they had cancelled it so the kids guessed it- Storm the lab AGAIN.
    I also sent an e-mail and complained but never got a response. I did however receive a survey asking how my last trip went and I did send it back. I really hope that DCL changes this program.
  19. Tiiiigergirl

    Tiiiigergirl <font color=red>Had to be rolled out of the restau

    Mar 14, 2000
    Just thought I would throw my 2 cents in. My son has cruised twice utilizing both the lab and the club. Both times he loved it. We literally had to drag him out to go on excursions and eat dinner with us. Every evening we would ask him if he wanted to attend the show with us (and we really tried to sell it) or if he wanted to go back to the kids club. He has never attended a show on board with us and we offered every single night. He loves the kids program and we would not be in favor of changing it.
  20. legs22

    legs22 Look for me on the singles thread on the Community

    Aug 20, 2001
    I think DCL offers a great "family oriented" vacation.
    My DD4 LOVED the club!
  21. Scarlet

    Scarlet Earning My Ears

    Sep 30, 1999

    While I appreciate your comments on the children's programs onboard DCL ( we will be taking our 1st cruise in January), I
    have to say that it was upsetting to read of two children ages
    5 & 8 turned loose on the ship while you dined at Palo.....????

    Surely your concern over your children's enjoyment of the cruise must have lapsed during your "adult only" dinner on the last night??? A family vacation is a family vacation........I think I would have chosen one of the family dining rooms for my "farewell dinner" and maybe forged some good memories of the last night on board..........

    I hate to sound judgemental, but 2 children so young should be supervised, especially on a cruise ship.... JMHO

    BWV '99

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