Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Disney Cruise to Nowhere Trip Report.. the Good the Bad and the Ugly

We are back from our weekend safe and sound.

This was our 5th cruise (2nd on Disney) so we knew what to expect. (or so we thought).

The boat had just come off an almost 2 week Panama Canal crossing and it seemed that some (not all) of the crew was a little tired and worn out. The big shows (Toy Story etc) were not being performed and we did not do dining rotation and Animators Palette (where we ate) did not do the usual turn from black and white to color. Jeff was pretty sure they gave the head chefs the 2 days off because overall the food was nowhere near the Disney quality we were used to.

The Good:

Our cabin was fantastic. We had a 1 bedroom suite and it was very roomy for the 5 of us. Every time we left the cabin and came back our concierge had brought us a tray of food. (pastries.... cheese and crackers etc).

The kids club was as wonderful and fun as the kids remembered. Jeffrey and Katherine spent 3 hours there Friday night and the entire day (minus dinner) on Saturday. Lots of fun stuff to do and neither felt bored or like the activities were for younger kids. They tried to get us to put Katherine in the Edge (for kids 11-13) and we insisted she stay with the younger kids (and her brother) because socially she would not be prepared to be with the older kids (since she is only in the 4th grade) AND I did not want her to have "check herself out" privileges. They were very accommodating and the staff was terrific.

We ate at Parrot Cay for lunch on Saturday and it was one of the best meals we had. The short ribs were SO wonderful and there were plenty of desserts to chose from.

We caught Tron on Saturday morning and really enjoyed the experience. This was my first 3D movie.

For us, getting on and off the ship was a breeze. We got to the port at 2 PM (Alex had finals so we had to wait until he was done at 12:20 to head to Long Beach) and when we got there the port personal were all very helpful. We got to go straight to the concierge line and bypass the huge line on the other side.

While disembarking we were the second group to be called and from walking off the ship to getting to our car it took approximately 20 minutes (if that).

I got Alex a haircut with our onboard credit and it only cost $29 with tip! We called Saturday afternoon and got an appointment for an hour later. The barber was very nice and did a great job.

The Bad:

Since this cruise was so short and therefore much less expensive than normal, the people who showed up were not your average cruisers. (Read: People who have never cruised before, will probably never cruise again, do not particularly like Disney one way or another, and have no idea whatsoever how to conduct oneself on a cruise such as this). Usually when you take a cruise the passengers have paid quite a bit more for a longer cruise and they tend be a bit more mellow and laid back. During the castaway party one might have thought we were on a Carnival cruise. (Been there done that..won't go back!)

The food that we ended up with at the restaurant was not very good. 1st night Jeff ordered Swordfish and it was extremely tough. Alex and I had the steak and it was overdone and dry. The 2nd night the Lobster bisque really was terrible tasting and even the desserts weren't worth staying for. We were pretty disappointed.

While we having lunch at Parrot Cay, one of the managers stopped by to ask us how our food was and Jeff mentioned how poor we found the food the night before.  We did tell him how much we were enjoying the meal we were currently having. The man about fell over himself apologizing. He was saying that the one thing Disney strives for is consistency. He went and talked to someone and came back and said that the head waiter at our restaurant would come by that evening at dinner and check on us personally. He took our cabin number and said if we needed anything to come and find him.

Unfortunately we never heard from anyone again. But the manager at Parrot Cay was definitely what we remember being good about Disney.. We really felt that he cared about our experience.

The food service hours were odd and inconvenient. You either had to eat in the restaurant or get hot dogs etc from Pluto's Dog House. Last Disney cruise we could have eaten in the buffet for dinner. And after 9:30 PM you could have pizza and ice cream or nothing. I had eaten hours before at early seating and wanted to snack (I was after all on a cruise!) and there simply didn't feel like there were the choices I would have liked.

Each night there were problems with the soft serve ice cream machine. 1st night it was soup and 2nd night it simply wasn't working. We came back 2 hours later and it was sort of working..but still soupy. And when I decided OK, no ice cream I'll get some hot chocolate, there were no packets at the drink station and I could not find anyone who knew what to do or wanted to help me. This was a big surprise since usually at Disney the crew members go out of their way. Again, I think the staff was burnt out from the long cruise they had just come off of. So after no ice cream and no hot chocolate I was pretty bent out of shape. Even on our less than satisfying Carnival cruise there had been a buffet open until midnight.

The Ugly

Breakfast Saturday morning. We went to Tritons and were seated pretty early. Everyone was being offered pastries and the kids waited in anticipation for the tray to be brought to our table. Every table around us were getting donuts or bear claws or cinnamon rolls etc. I finally asked someone and she nodded and moved on but we didn't see her again until we were leaving.

Breakfast came and still no pastries. The food was pretty bad overall.. VERY dry pancakes and waffles and the waitress only spooned some syrup on our food and never came back to give us more.

Breakfast was over and finally our waitress showed up with the pastry tray and presented it to the kids. What was on it? 4 rolls and 3 pieces of bread. All 3 kids had their mouth open in disbelief.

I asked the waitress if we could get some donuts and do you know what she said? Oh I'm sorry.... We're out.

OUT????? Breakfast had only been going for an hour and there was a still a 2nd seating to come. The waitress looked pained and said MAYBE she could have someone check at another restaurant to see if there were any left, if we wanted to wait.

We passed.

Then as we were getting up and leaving what should walk past us?  A full tray of donuts and pastries.
And then the lady we first asked came by and asked if we got our pastries. No we said, our waitress told us they didn't have anymore. She looked confused but went on her way. Didn't offer us and explanation.

We ended up going up to the Beach Blanket Buffet and getting donuts and MUCH better food up there. (The food at our 1st breakfast was so inedible that we hardly ate any of it).

So overall it was hit or miss. It wont turn us off from cruising Disney again, because we took a 7 day years ago and we loved it. It just wasn't the best experience this time.

So time for some pictures:

Here's the first picture I took from the parking lot

Heading to the check-in

We bypassed all these lines and were 2nd in line at the concierge check-in.

Having arrived in our cabin, what to the older boys do?
Immediately pull out Ipods and phones..... 

(Alex pre haircut)

This was the first of 2 fruit baskets  we got.
Unfortunately we could not bring the fruit back with us (customs regulations) so we only ate part of it.

And we got this tote full of stuff:
(and DANG if I didnt leave the the rice crispie treats next to the TV when we packed up and left)

A few cabin shots:
The living room with Katherine at the table

Kids bathroom

TV area in the living room:

Our bathroom:

Some of the artwork pieces throughout the cabin

The view off our balcony before we left port:

An old Navy ship docked near us:

At the emergency drill:
We were in "I" and when I read it on the door I thought it said "1" so when we got down to deck 4 and I told Jeff to look for section "1" I was greeted with quite a scowl when he realized that everything was in letters not numbers. Fortunately Miss Brilliance (me) saved the day figuring out my mistake! It was also marked on our room key but I thought that was just a line, not an "I". Yep... Miss Brilliance..that's me!

At the Castaway Party:

The dancing fountains at the dock:

You can still some snow on the far mountains in the background. This is where most of the So Cal ski resorts are located. We were having a high pressure system stuck over the city for a few days, thus the high temps and not so great air quality.

Pulling away from the dock, the Disney staff waves goodbye

Heading out:

This is kind of blurry, but I still like the shot:

Mickey Bar for dessert:

One of our towel animals plus chocolate:

Mural in Tritons:

Alex before his haircut
(Sarah said he looked like a long lost member of the Beatles)

 During the haircut:

The ceiling of the spa... I just LOVED this:

On the ceiling above the barber chairs:

My goofballs during dinner:

We sat right next to one of the TVs.. kids loved that:

Alex (sporting his new haircut) watching the TV

And a couple of shots from our day at Disneyland on Sunday:

Waiting for Autopia

Mr Toads ride vehicle:

Jeffrey LOVES to drive
I think I may have avoided whiplash this time as he kept the car relatively straight

Alex is a very good driver.
He mentioned he would like to try his hand at real car one of these days.
Whats that son? I didn't quite get that....
Tell me later..maybe next year.

California Palm trees

The Matterhorn

Outside of Big Thunder:

In front of the Bugs Bathroom:

Here you can see the Tower of Terror through the Buglands canopy of plants.
Jeff and Alex were there while I took the younger 2 of a few rides.

Riding Heimlich's Chew Chew Train

Love the watermelon... it squirts sweet smelling liquid out of the top

Here comes the box cookies.. also smells SO good

And their favorite in Bugsland... Tuck and Rolls Buggies. They go all of 2 miles an hour.

We cut the day early around 3 because we were all exhausted.
Overall it was a fun weekend especially for the kids.
I cant wait until I afford to do a longer cruise hopefully not too long in the future!


islandgirl4ever2 said...

Hi Melora,

Just read your post about the trip and love all your pics... Weird about the service and all the bad food experiences.. You'd think that anytime people are paying money for services - esp. when it's Disney - you get good service and good meals- What a shame and I think I'd be pretty po'd ... I've never done a cruise before myself, and you certainly sound experienced in this area... but did you think of writing a letter or something regarding this experience.. maybe take the info from your blogpost... because I'm pretty sure that the head people are interested in feedback, good or bad, so they know what is happening and can make necessary changes...
I really liked the way you wrote about the positive and negative... So, I'm sure they would love to hear about all that, as well...
Anyhow, in spite of all that-- I'm SURE you had a great time and your kids are SOOOO adorable!!!!

Take care and looking forward to hearing about your next adventures.. It really makes me want to come visit Cali. again just to go to Disney... Even though we have Euro Disney in Paris, it's just NOT the same as Cali!!!
Take care,

Allie said...

Hi Melora,
Love the trip post and the pictures! Too bad about the food on the ship! I've never been on the cruise yet it is one of those thing on my "bucket list" so one day I will. I agree with Leesa that if I were paying I'd be Po'd too!

thanks for sharing! We enjoyed Disneyland this past august though Bugsland was sooo busy so we didn't stick around in there long!

I'm glad you had a nice time other than the food and that the kids had a blast too! I'm sure it was a much needed break from reality if even for a short time!

Take care

Anonymous said...

Hello Melora,

Thank you for sharing your "A Little Slice of Life". I've been to Disney Orlando many times, but was thinking of doing a quickie Disney Cruise to Nowhere in NY. Thanks for sharing all your comments. You did a very good job. Your pictures are excellent and tell a lot. Yes, he did look like a Beatle! Enjoy your travels! Elise S. from Long Island.