We had finally arrived in Orlando. My family and I waited in line behind the other passengers to register and get onboard. They had probably scrimped and saved, penny by penny, as we did, to take this cruise. I had been waiting for a year for this vacation and I knew that the Disney Cruise would be fun for the entire family. As we stepped forward, I noticed that there were quite a few people waiting in the waiting area. Kids looking bored, parents visibly tired. This was not at all the fervor and excitement that I expected from people ready to take a week long cruise. I know I was excited. I was ready to go! At least until I got to the front of the entry line. It was on this cruise that I learned how Disney deals with negative situations. Why Disney’s service differentiates them from the rest of the cruise industry.
When I got to the front counter, the attendant gave us the news. It fell on us like a ton of bricks and dashed our hopes for an impending vacation. Bad weather was delaying our ship, the Disney Magic, from returning to Port Canaveral. The cruise ship was stuck at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. How long will it be stuck there, I wondered. How soon could it get back so that we could get onboard? And then I remembered the contract. That dog-gone, pesky contract. The one I signed that says if there is an act of God or some other uncontrollable circumstance, that Disney is not responsible for any losses on the part of the passengers. And I will be a monkey’s uncle if weather wasn’t one of those uncontrollable circumstances. We were sunk, and had no way to get recompense for the missed cruise. Now I know why those parents in the waiting area had that look on their faces. It was on my face now too.
The Disney attendant tried to reassure us that the wait would only be a couple of hours. The weather would probably pass through quickly and then the ship could return back to Port Canaveral. She tried to smile, but I saw right through it. That weak glimmer of hope she was trying to give us was just to pacify the masses. To keep us from rioting and tearing up the terminal like loose animals from Planet of the Apes. I knew there would be no boat. Weather doesn’t pass through that fast. But there was nothing I could do but sit in the waiting area like all of the other families. It was not looking good for any of us.
The announcement over the loud speaker said it would be a two hour wait. Time slowly droned on. I had to keep telling my kids to behave.
“Don’t run around. Stop hitting your brother!”
Time crept on, minute, by slow minute.
“Tie your shoes. Keep your jacket on. Don’t throw it around!”
Then the announcer over the loud speaker said the weather had not cleared and that it would be 4 hours, rather than 2. I groaned. As I turned over in my chair, still uncomfortable from the previous hours of sitting there, all kinds of scenarios began to run through my mind. If the cruise is cancelled, we will need to get a hotel for the night. Will all of the local ones be full? Where can we get something for the kids to eat? Will we be able to get a flight back to California tomorrow or perhaps the next day? Since we didn’t pay for the cruise insurance (darn!), we won’t be getting our money back for the cruise. Will we be able to change the dates for the return flight home? How much will those fees be?
“Don’t jump around in that chair! You, come back over here where I can see you!”
Time continued to creep on. It felt like forever. I was now thinking of how we were going to get lunch for the kids. When it happened.
The Disney attendant gathered the parents in small separate groups and told everyone that they had a new plan. It was determined that the Disney Magic was not going to be able to arrive until the next day. As such, for those families who wanted to, Disney was going to shuttle everyone over to DisneyWorld for the rest of the day. They would give each of us park hopper tickets, meal tickets for food and put us up in a 4-star hotel for the night. Lastly, they would shuttle everyone back over, first thing in the morning, to get on the cruise ship. Now that would mean, that the cruise would be 6 days, instead of 7, and we would stop at one fewer destinations, but if we were okay with this, we could spend our day at DisneyWorld rather than inside the terminal.
My husband and I took one look at each other, saw the excitement in the other’s face, and immediately agreed to go. I had never been to DisneyWorld before. Now we would be able to have two vacations in one!
The day, night and food at DisneyWorld was fantastic. But better than that, Disney had taken care of us.
Walt Disneyworld, Orlando Florida
They didn’t have to–by all rights, given that the weather had delayed the sailing, we should have been just out of money and out of luck. Any other cruise line might have put us up for the night in an inexpensive hotel.
But only Disney could turn being stranded, into 4-star hotel accommodations and a vacation day at Disneyworld. If you are going to be stranded somewhere, there is no better place in the world to be stranded than Disneyworld! It’s not just that Disney has the resources to take their guests to such a wonderful park, it’s that they were willing to, free of charge, when Mother Nature changed our vacation plans.
Disney prides itself on extraordinary service. And that’s just what they delivered. We bragged about it to all of our friends when we got back from our cruise, and we are still bragging about it now. Why is Disney the best cruise line? It’s simple, their service. If on your next cruise, you would like to experience phenomenal service, as only Disney can deliver, book your vacation at the Disney Cruise Line website.