I am deeply saddened to even be writing this because I LOVE Disney. However, I recently experienced a complete disregard for customer service from Disney Cruise Line that took me completely by surprise. I am hoping that my story may prevent a fellow Disney-cruiser’s disappointment in the future…
My family, my parents, and a family friend were booked on an 8-night western Caribbean cruise on the Disney Magic sailing from Galveston, TX in February. Disney Cruise Line sent an email entitled “itinerary change notification”; however, after contacting Disney Cruise Line, they actually cancelled my 8-night cruise and are now offering two 4-night cruises to Cozumel.
Disney offered the following:
1. Rebook the cruise and receive a $250 on-board credit.
2. Cancel my cruise.
The issues with the options provided by Disney are:
1. We are travelling for a birthday celebration (date is not flexible) so we DO NOT want to cancel the cruise! Plus, the kids are crazy excited to go!!
2. In order to travel the same dates with a similar itinerary, we would have to book on a Disney Fantasy out of Port Canaveral (a shorter 7-night western Caribbean cruise). Leaving from Port Canaveral requires transportation to Florida = more expensive cruise! We were originally planning on driving to Galveston.
3. I had to re-book the new cruise 4 months later than my original booking date. The same room type (oceanview) we had on the Disney Magic with an adjoining room (for grandma and grandpa) is not available. We have to move to a more expensive room category if we want to keep adjoining rooms. This is the crux of the issue. I need an adjoining room because I want grandma and grandpa to be able to spend quality time with their grandkids! That is why we are traveling with them! If I had booked the Fantasy originally, I could have booked an adjoining room in a less expensive room category.
4. The $250 on-board credit does not make up for the new air travel expense or the more expensive stateroom price.
I sent my concerns to Disney Cruise Line, and they really don’t seem to care. I asked Disney for the ability to book a Disney cruise during our selected travel dates with a similar itinerary out of another domestic port for the same price as I paid for the Disney Magic including transportation to the alternative port. They said no to all requests… “no” to the same price, “no” to covering air travel expense, and even “no” to increasing the on-board credit. Their response actually does not seem very Disney-like at all and shows a complete disregard for customer service! I could not believe it and actually still do not believe it.
What irritates me is that this issue was caused by the business decision Disney Cruise Line made to cancel my trip (I was booked, and we were excited to go on our trip out of Galveston); yet, it is my family that has to pay for the change Disney Cruise Line is implementing!!! I would assume that Disney Cruise Line would at minimum offer us the same stateroom type at the same price. The goodwill this would have created would have been immeasurable and this dispute could have been over (and would have cost Disney, who reported its largest quarterly earnings in its history in August 2012, less than $400)! I cannot get a less expensive stateroom because I am booking four months later… did I mention it is because Disney cancelled my original booking??? What is even crazier is that I am a first time Disney cruiser, and I was bringing two other families with me… and they still don’t care.
Sadly, what I have learned through my ordeal is that the Disney Cruise Line is a separate business unit that operates differently from the amusement parks and stores. I held the Disney brand to too high of a standard. The Disney amusement parks and stores seem to focus on customer satisfaction and creating memorable experiences. However, Disney Cruise Line, at least behind the scenes, does not seem to worry about either of these. Disney Cruise Line CAN do something to solve the problem they created, but is choosing NOT to do so. At the same time, I continue to receive emails from Disney to visit Walt Disney World Resort, purchase the Muppet Christmas Carol, download Disney’s Halloween app, buy advanced tickets to the Lion King musical, etc.
This is what I have learned about Disney Cruise Line:
1. Don’t bother sending letters to both Robert Iger (Chariman and CEO) and Tom Staggs (Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts) for assistance. The letters go back to the same displacement group that will just call you back to say “no”.
2. Disney Cruise Line will not work with you to find a mutually beneficial solution to your specific problem. I guess they don’t have to… they are Disney! If you cancel, some other parent trying to create happy memories for the kids will take your place.
3. Don’t get caught up in the “magic” of Disney (like I have been for so many years) when booking your cruise with Disney Cruise Line, you will just set yourself up for disappointment… my experience has NOT been magical.
I hope that you never find yourself in my situation, but if you do… I hope that what I learned can help to make your experience much less frustrating!!!
Ironically, I have a friend who had an issue over the holiday with Royal Caribbean out of Galveston. Someone in her party cancelled a few days before her departure date which resulted in a “policy” issue. To make a long story short… She was afraid she was going to have to cancel her cruise. However, Royal Caribbean called her the next day with a solution to her (customer-caused) problem. She sailed as scheduled. Disney caused my issue and could not do anything about it… go figure!