What Celebrity Cruises Can Learn From Disney Cruise Line
A Cruise Planning Articleby Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 11-24-2016
This summer we were fortunate to take a Baltic cruise, enabling me to fulfill some long-held ambitions and visit places like Tallinn, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, and even Moscow.
We chose Celebrity Cruises purely on monetary terms, as it was a fraction of the price of the inaugural round the United Kingdom cruise that we’d hoped to take with Disney.
Inside the Moonlight Sonata, the only option for dining, outside of counter service or adult restaurants with an additional cover charge.
This Celebrity Cruise was only the second non-Disney cruise we’ve taken, and the first with Celebrity. Beforehand, I had some trepidation about how much we’d enjoy it, given how we’ve been spoiled by Disney over the years. However, we DID thoroughly enjoy it. We came away feeling there were some things Celebrity could learn from Disney, but also that Disney could learn from Disney, so over the course of two articles, I’ll be looking at each of those elements.
First, what could Celebrity learn from Disney?
I think the key thing here is the amazing customer service for which Disney is renowned. Don’t get me wrong, we encountered some very pleasant people, and some who did go above and beyond, but we never really got that camaraderie that we get on Disney cruises with their crew members, where you feel as if they’re almost your friends. Sadly, we also encountered some downright miserable staff on board our cruise, who gave us the distinct impression they didn’t want to be there, which was a real shame, and not a great first impression for us of the company. I don’t know how Disney manage it, but they seem to have an amazing on-board team, and it really shines through.
Something else I really missed from Disney is their unique way of rotating you through different dining rooms. Our ship had one major dining room, the Moonlight Sonata that was so big it took up two different decks. However, to me, although impressive at first sight, it felt impersonal, it was so big. I would have much preferred to be able to sample different places each night, and to a certain extent we did that by paying out of pocket for the various adult specialty restaurants.
This next point may be unfair, as it was our first visit to the Baltic, and perhaps this happens to every cruise line, but disembarking at the various ports didn’t seem to be that orderly. We were often presented with long lines, and although they did move relatively quickly, that’s something I’m not used to with Disney.
On the subject of ports of call, I was very surprised and a little annoyed to discover that with the shore excursions we booked with Celebrity were charged at the time we booked them, rather than Disney’s system of charging it on your on-board account. That certainly didn’t help the budget, and it’s something I wish I’d realised at an earlier stage in the planning process.
As far as our rooms went, given that we know Disney’s are very large, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of space we had in our stateroom. However, one problem we ran into was the lack of storage space. There just weren’t that many drawers, which made things difficult, as we wanted to unpack at the start of the cruise, but instead, we found ourselves living out of our suitcases for the best part of the fortnight we were away, which was frustrating to say the least. We did find some additional storage space on the final couple of days, although that was a cupboard above the bed, and hardly easy to access!
I was expecting to have issues with not having a split bathroom, but in truth, that didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. It was no different to many hotel rooms we’ve stayed in over the years in fairness.
Our ship had a charm of its own, but the look didn\'t compare to the Disney ships...
During the cruise, we spent quite a bit of time exploring the ship, and we kept failing to find the ship’s laundry room. We figured it must be hidden away very well, but eventually we had the horrible realisation that they didn’t have one! Thank goodness we had brought enough clothes for the full two weeks of our cruise, otherwise we’d have been in a few problems. Of course, they did have a cleaning service available for a price, but I’d much rather have a ship that has self-service laundry facilities on it.
Their equivalent of the Rainforest on the Disney cruise ships was called the Persian Garden, and it included hot stone chairs with lovely views out to sea, along with a steam room and sauna. While this was very nice, we did encounter some issues with both the steam room and sauna, and sadly they often weren’t working properly. Equally, for a relatively new ship (she entered service in late 2011), I would have hoped to see more in here. Given the Dream launched before the Eclipse, and that comes with showers, and hot tubs, it was a shame they didn’t have some of those facilities in here.
And of course, there’s one final thing I have to mention, and I think this applies to any non-Disney cruise ship. You just can’t beat the sleek look of the four Disney cruise ships. I take one look at them and immediately they make me think of the pictures I’ve seen of the great liners of the past, whereas I look at any other cruise ship, and they don’t evoke that feeling. Don’t get me wrong, our ship the Eclipse was still beautiful in its own way, but it just can’t compare to the Magic, Wonder, Dream or Fantasy in terms of looks. However, our ship still had a lot to offer in other ways, and in the next article, I’ll be looking at where we felt Disney could learn from Celebrity…
Updated 11-24-2016 - Article #1346
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.
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