PART TWO Disney Cruise Line Debacle: Child Safety is NOT their top priority

As you all may have read my previous installment, Disney Cruise Line Debacle: The Short-lived excitement, please understand this had NOTHING to do with Disney as a whole. I believe Disney Cruise Line has decided to disregard my child’s safety, not Disney as a whole. We’re still Disney lovers, but we’re NOT Disney Cruise Line lovers. I’m actually disgusted with Disney Cruise Line, and their blatant disregard for my daughter’s safety, along with the way Guest Correspondence handled this entire situation AFTER we were off the boat.

And now, back to our story…….

DOOMSDAY

Technically, this was our “second” day on the trip, but it was our first full day on the boat, and on vacation. I had looked at the personal navigator with Little Miss. She wanted to go to Oceaneer’s Lab to make a craft, and we thought it would be a great chance for the kids to get the “club experience.” Plus, it would nice to find some new friends. We had our Character breakfast, then headed to the Oceaneer’s Lab to drop the kids off.

First, the organization was terrible. No one knew where to go, how to drop off their kids, and the counselors were a bit rude. I had been told such amazing things about this club, I put aside my concerns about their lack of organization for the drop off procedure. We dropped the kids off, being assured over, and over, the staff had everything under control, they were all highly trained, and it was actually very organized, even if it looked like chaos. The kids had already stepped into the club, and were told to wash their hands, and sort of guided to the big sinks. They ran to wash their hands, so we called out “see you in an hour.”

We returned an hour later……everyone seemed to be calm, having fun. Kids were making Flubber, which I knew Little Miss hadn’t been interested in. However, the “manager,” Kimberly, said the kids were finishing up Flubber, and we had to wait until they were done. I said my kids weren’t doing Flubber, but she just held her hand up, and insisted we waited. I figured I wouldn’t get all nasty on the first day, let’s wait for that until the second day. Of course, little did I know what was about to happen.

THE TEXT that came an hour later

If you’ve never gone on a Disney Cruise before, let me tell you about their WAVE phones. They suck. The phones are how the counselors contact parents. First they send a text, then they CLAIM they call. Well, my children requested that we come and get them after they were there for about a half an hour. We didn’t get a text a half an hour after we dropped them off. When did that text come through? Over an hour later, after we had already gotten our children from the lab. We also never received a phone call. Their explanation for that? When the kids request to be picked up, and they text the parents, and the parents don’t show up, but the kids have calmed down, and seem to be having fun, they don’t bother calling. WHAT?!!! It’s not up to them to decide to not call a parent, that’s just insanely stupid. Especially when kids are young, as my kids are!

Are you shaking your heads in disgust? I was. So not a great way to do things. Especially with those WAVE phones being such garbage on the Magic. They were retro-fitted, so of course, they won’t be as good. How about the Oceaneer’s Club & Lab have their very own system to get in touch with parents? Might be a smart idea on older boats.

However, that’s not the end of my story with my child. We all know I have two kids. Little Miss and The Boy. Well, when we were FINALLY let into the lab to pick up our kids, we had to go and find them. My husband went to look by the Flubber project, which I knew our kids had not taken part in, and I went to go look over by where they were doing the door hang craft. There they were, finishing up their craft. I knelt down, and Little Miss looked up, and saw I was there. She smiled, and then asked “Mommy, what took you so long? We asked them to call you to pick us up so long ago.” I looked at the counselor that was working with them, and asked “Who called us? We didn’t get a call.”

My husband made his way over, I told him to look at the phone, and nothing was on there. No text, no call missed, no message. I told Little Miss we never got a message, if we had we would have come immediately. She seemed okay with that, we collected their stuff, and The Boy asked again “Why’d you leave us here alone? We wanted you to stay with us? They said they would get you.” I was now PISSED. My plan was to hit up Guest Services after we saw the Princesses in the Atrium.

We took the kids over to sign them out. What a nightmare. People everywhere, parents yelling at counselors about how unorganized this was, how come it’s taking so long, and just a bunch of complaining. There were more kids than counselors, so yes, it was going to take longer, that’s not a legitimate reason to scream, yell, and throw a fit. And then I was handed the PERFECT reason to scream, and throw a fit: I wasn’t contacted when my kids asked me to be contacted. However, what I didn’t know was I had a much larger problem on our hands……

THE SAFETY ISSUE THAT NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED

Before I could even rip into them about what my kids had just told me about asking to be picked up, the scanner was beeping and not allowing my daughter’s wristband to be scanned. The counselor, Nica, who was being pulled at by kids behind us, along with them pulling things out of the machine when she printed wristbands, and just major chaos, scanned her wristband again. Still wouldn’t register.

Let me back up a second here, and explain their “process.” When you register your child for the Oceaneer’s Club, whether you do it online before you even go to the Pier to your cruise, or you do it at the Pier, or at the club itself – all kids need to have a wristband. When we got to the Pier, I had already registered the kids, and just needed to get their wristbands. We waited online while at the Pier, it ate some of the waiting time sitting around to board the boat, and got them set up with wristbands. Safety Issue ONE: The wristband had the room number my kids were going to be staying in, as well as the Mickey Number assigned to them. RED FLAG.

My kids had these bands on. The bands are HORRIBLE. The plastic crap you’d get at a water park, with a huge, plastic piece that sticks out like a watch. Kids are suppose to wear these for the entire trip…….they are uncomfortable, clunky, and way too big for small wrists. The Boy has super sensitive skin, and the rash started almost immediately. He wasn’t in love with this, nor was I. In any event, that big, plastic nightmare houses all the information for your child. It’s how the counselors can track them once they’re in the club.

And this band, was NOT WORKING on my daughter. THREE TIMES she tried it. I picked up her wrist, looked at the band, and read the name…….and it wasn’t my daughter’s name. Nica looked at me, all the color in her face drained, and she said “what do you mean that’s not her name?” I said it again “This is NOT my daughter’s name, you have the wrong wristband on my daughter. Why was her band replaced?” I looked down at Little Miss and asked her “did you get it wet? Did you ask to have it replaced? Did it fall off?”

Little Miss answered “No Mama, someone came over to me when I was doing my door craft. She said she had to replace my wristband. She cut it off, and put this one on me.” Again, Nica looked like she was going to throw up. She quickly removed the incorrect band, mumbled “this is a big mistake” and made my daughter a new one. The incorrect bracelet was quickly moved away from us, before I could snatch it back up as proof. It was very obvious they were doing their best to “hide” what happened, in hopes if they played it off as if it was no big deal, I might not care that my daughter was put in major danger!

Meanwhile, there was another mother who was holding up her line…..guess why? Yup, her wristband wasn’t working either. Why’s that? Because my daughter was wearing her daughter’s, and my daughter wasn’t properly identified for AN HOUR while she was at that stupid club. Which also meant the other little girl didn’t even have a working wristband while she was there. However, I didn’t get the chance to chat with her, as we were basically pushed out of the lab’s little gate as quickly as they could get us through the gate!

Let me also state that I could have been anyone telling you this is my daughter. All Nica did was take my word for it. GRANTED, my daughter was calling me Mama, Mommy, and Mom. Plus, my two children look IDENTICAL, so there is no mistaking they are siblings, and my son’s wristband was right. However, there should have been a little more effort to make sure my little girl was actually MY KID. Perhaps identification from me, my husband? Maybe even my card that got me into my room, or was used to charge things to my room while on the cruise. SOMETHING???!!!! ANYTHING????!!!!

Disney Cruise Kids

No Mistaking these two are related!

Anyway, back to the wristband being totally wrong, now quickly having been removed from the little “desk” by Nica, my mind started to go WILD with various images of, well, I’ll let all the scenarios play in your mind like they did in my mind……….

And then being snapped back into reality when your daughter asks you “Why would Mickey want me to go with another family Mommy? Doesn’t he know who my family is?”

What happened after? I’ll be filling you in on the next post. You can find Disney Cruise Line Debacle: The Meeting.

By | 2015-02-19T18:59:06-04:00 September 11, 2012|Reviews, Travel|16 Comments

About the Author:

Staci loves to write, and loves to share her "take" on everything thrown her way. Movies, entertainment, food, fashion, shopping, money, travel and family. There's nothing off limits at NovemberSunflower.com, and Staci's always telling it like it is: good, bad, and all that lies in between!

16 Comments

  1. [email protected] September 12, 2012 at 1:18 am

    It’s like I tell my kids, honesty is always the best policy. Had they owned up to the mix-up, apologized, and asked how they could make it up to you, things would have went much differently.

    • November Sunflower September 12, 2012 at 8:54 am

      The real issue is that they don’t believe it’s an issue that my daughter was put at risk. It’s much more than a “mix-up,” as they have no intention of changing how they treat a situation like this. They believe having one person look at a wristband, cut it off, and replace it, is a good way to deal with a malfunctioning wristband that pops up on their computer screens. It’s not. We happen to have caught them putting our daughter, along with another child, at risk. I highly doubt it has never happened before. It’s just that I’m calling them out on it, and I want them to IMPROVE their system. Apologizing is one thing, but they tried to make it seem like it happened because we didn’t come to retrieve our children when they texted us. One, we never got the text, and they should have reached out again, but they didn’t and took it upon themselves to just let my kids stay, because they “seemed” okay. Two, there’s no excuse for being lazy with a child’s safety, regardless of whether you thought my daughter was no longer at the lab, or not.
      When it comes to child safety, there need to be much more strict procedures in place when removing a wristband that identifies a child.

  2. nicolthepickle September 12, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Hey, I’ve read your last three posts, and I can see why it’s a huge deal. But they’re your children! YOURS!
    Just don’t leave your kids anywhere anymore. No daycare, no school, no sleepovers with not-so-close friends.

    • November Sunflower September 12, 2012 at 10:32 am

      Oh yes, that’s the perfect solution. Thank you. I’ll be sure to share that with all the other parents of the world. It should solve everything for all of us. (Yeah, not happening. My kids aren’t going to live in a bubble, thanks.)

    • CFam September 12, 2012 at 11:48 am

      Are you actually saying your children should not be sent to school and daycare? I’m sorry but I will not allow my children to be sheltered from the real world because I worry about them. While I understand that this is a big deal to the parents in the end the girl was fine. And to say you should never allow your children to go to a school or daycare is completely close minded. There are stronger requirements and restrictions in those palaces today then when I was a child.

      • November Sunflower September 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm

        I’m not, but I guess Nicole feels that way. I’m lucky both my daughter, and the other little girl came out of this without major harm.
        Although, my daughter did have a hard time the rest of the trip being away from me if I left to do something alone, while she was with her Daddy. But she rebounded! Like a champ.

    • Meagan Paullin September 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      Wow Nicole – No school? No daycare? Quit your job, homeschool your kids, never let them play in the yard unless you’re a foot away… No riding bikes with friends, no playdates unless you’re there. Maybe not even at grandma’s house – she might not be trustworthy!

      Heck – why not just lock ’em up? Put your daughter in a tower, with a fire breathing dragon to keep her safe!

      Seriously? Get real lady.

      Here’s real life: We do our absolute best as mother’s to teach our children about safety – don’t talk or go with strangers. If someone touches/talks/acts in a way that makes you feel weird, tell me right away. If you get into a bad situation, here are some ideas to get safe…. We teach them these skills, to help them grow up smart enough to help protect themselves when we’re not around. Because – CRAZY PARENTING ALERT HERE! – we can’t, and shouldn’t, overprotect them their whole life. If we did, they’d never grow up into happy, healthy, productive adults.

      But while we don’t keep them snuggled in a carrier on our chest until they’re 18, we DO step in and protect them when we see an opportunity to do so. Her kids SHOULD have been safe at a place like this. Yes, there’s always a risk when your child is being taken care of by someone other than yourself – but no one would guess that there would be a totally preventable risk like this one. So what she’s doing is trying to help Disney Cruise learn from this, see what a major mistake it was, realize what a horrible situation it COULD have been, and change their procedures so that nothing bad happens to someone else’s child.

      She’s protecting her own kids, and trying to help protect everyone else’s too.

      Why? Because she is one bad-ass momma, that’s why :)

      • November Sunflower September 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

        I think you said it better than I have said it in four blog posts. In one comment you have also alleviated my guilt for having trusted Disney Cruise Line with my babies. You’re damn right I should have been able to trust them!
        I’m proud to be a bad-ass momma!
        And having you, an amazing bad-ass momma state that I’m one, too, makes me feel even better.

        Let’s get it together Disney Cruise Line. Our kids deserve to be safe, secure, and unharmed while in your care.

  3. Kristin September 14, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Look, the bottom line is it IS a mix-up. Not a big deal when they give me the wrong veggie at a restaurant or the wrong food at the drive-thru.

    But, in my opinion, there is NO ROOM for mix-ups when we are talking about young children who might even have special needs, disabilities, allergies, whatever. There is no room for error when you’re dealing with young children, PERIOD.

    If this happened at my kids’ day care, it would be their last day at day care. You didn’t overreact…and their behavior indicates they knew they screwed up royally and had to avoid a major PR problem, hence the getting rid of the “evidence.”

    What a nightmare.

    • November Sunflower September 14, 2012 at 8:11 am

      Total nightmare, very true. And you’re right, it’s not like they got my sandwich order wrong. Just a complete and utter screw up, that is being made even worse with how they are treating it. Thanks for understanding and throwing your support into the ring!

  4. Jodi September 14, 2012 at 10:46 am

    hi! I just wanted to say a few words about my DCL experience. My children are 7 and 4. Our youngest has Autism. He is not highly functioning. The DCL staff were so amazing! They made our stay wonderful. They accomidated him in the Oceaneer club even though he technically broke all the rules by not being potty trained and being non-verbal. Our wave phones worked flawlessly. We frequently checked in on our kids in the club because of my son’s needs and found them happy, safe and well attended. I picked up my wave phone multiple times to check on my son and was always answered immediately. The play was well organized. The staff was friendly and understanding that it was my FIRST TIME leaving my son with any sort of care center of any kind. I was worried my constant contact would bother them but they were fabulous about it. For the first time I felt like the mother of just another kid and not a kid with issues. I think them putting the wrong bracelet on your child was a huge problem but I do not think it was typical of the DCL. At least not in my experience. I also have friends that cruise with them often and all of them have had wonderful experiences with Disney. Even the waiters handled my sons food issues with ease. They remembered how he only eats certain things and I didn’t even have to ask. The room service people too! They would put extra pepperoni on his pizza just like he likes it. I actually cried when we got to the ship at first becuase he started to melt down. The disney crew took my entire family on the ship first so that I wouldn’t be stressed out. I can’t say enough about what a wonderful experience it was for my family. Just wanted to give you a good story because I do think your experience was maybe an off moment in an otherwise well run company.

    • November Sunflower September 14, 2012 at 11:26 am

      It’s lovely that you had an amazing experience. It’s lovely that many people have had amazing experiences. However, my story needs to be told, and I didn’t go into the variety of other issues that arose for other parents during our cruise, as it is not my place to tell their stories.
      My story is one that people need to know about, because not everything is as fabulous as your visit was with the DCL. Plenty of my own family members have had amazing experiences, hence the reason for my children requesting to go to the club/lab. However, this event that took place is VERY SERIOUS, and though I appreciate your story, I’m hoping you understand my story is not the only one like this. However, it seems that the more I tell people about this happening, the more people are sharing their “not fabulous” experiences, and being ignored by Disney, just like I am being ignored.
      This also has nothing to do with the waiters we had, they were actually the best part of our entire experience when interacting with staff. They did all those wonderful things for us as well, however, in this instance, it is a bit more important to showcase how Disney not only put my daughter, as well as another little girl, at risk, but have chosen to treat it like it’s nothing.

      • Jodi September 14, 2012 at 11:57 am

        No company is perfect and I am actually very surprised that they didn’t react to your situation in a way that made you feel better about things. I am wondering what you would like them to do at this point? Do you have some ideas for how they could better improve safety? I guess I am asking because I think at this point all they can do is say they are sorry that it happened. Maybe they have done an internal review of this situation? I appreciate a cautionary tale as a parent because I would want to know if this had ever happened to anyone, but I am not sure exactly what can be done to make this better for you. I would think the person that made the error could be fired, but I can’t think of anything else? I read up on our ship a lot before boarding. I had googled my brains out. I actually had to obtain special permission for my son’s bracelet to be on a belt loop because he has sensory issues. The crew was VERY hesistant and the ships manager had to be brought down. They also had me speak to a different manager every time we left him in the lab because it was so against policy to not have the bracelet on his wrist. I guess my point is I think you had a bad crew on this ship. I do not think this is typical. I could be wrong and I think you have every right to be concerned. I would hope they are making every effort to make sure this never happens again.

        • November Sunflower September 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm

          I have not discounted your story of how amazing your trip was for you, and your child. Calling mine a cautionary tale is a bit insulting to my daughter, as well as my entire family. This is much more than a “cautionary tale.”
          What happened to MY child is something that could happen to ANY child on a Disney Cruise with the procedures they have set in place. I will continue to share this breach of security. It is most certainly not a “tale.”
          If you had to handle the anxiety, and nightmares my daughter had after this, you might re-consider calling it a “tale.”
          And yes, we have MULTIPLE ideas on how they can improve the way they handle things in their club, and lab. SIMPLE things that should be done, and if I have my say, WILL be done.

  5. Kristi @Disney Insider Tips September 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    We had problems on our first cruise aboard the Disney Dream in January. Our kids (6 & 9) were left in Oceaneer lab and asked for us to be called (it was too crazy/ packed). We went to get them as soon as we got the text. When we arrived, our kids were in tears because the text got to us 20 minutes after it was sent. Needless to say, we NEVER leave our kids there now. Out of all the cast members, I feel like the Oceaneer lab & club are the most in need of more training.

    • November Sunflower September 14, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      I have to tell you, they had this problem on our cruise with MANY families. I cannot tell you how many kids were in tears, and their parents so upset, because the texts were either never sent, or the texts came over an hour later. And yes, the club and lab are in serious need of training. I could not agree with you more! Thanks so much for bringing this up, I appreciate it tremendously.

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