Wonderful is truly the best word that I can use for my
experience on board the Disney Wonder last week. The sailing was smooth, the food very good,
and the service was once again exemplary.
Disney Cruise Line has certainly earned the various accolades from
within the cruise industry that they have received. Regardless of how much I
spent on my cruise, which was a lot less than the average guest since I was on
board for educational and research purposes – the service provided not only met
my expectations, but exceeded it.
I was able to participate in an Agent Education Program, or AEP, where the host line brings travel professionals onboard in order to experience a particular ship for themselves, and then be able to better share the ship and the line with clients and potential clients, making recommendations where appropriate. Being
onboard with nearly 90 other travel advisors and agents might make one think
that we were receiving special treatment, but I can gladly say that I observed
time and time again the same or better service being provided to the full fare-paying
|Some of the many AEP participants from Cruise Planners,|
inside Diversions, one of the adult spaces on board,
following the first class session
Throughout the week, as a group, we were in seminars for 2
to 3 hours each morning. It was a great
experience to be able to meet so many fine people, who like me, enjoy putting
together remarkable vacations for their clients, helping them to create memories
to last a lifetime. And through it all,
I have made several new friends for a lifetime.
We enjoyed sharing best practices with each other, learning tips and new
ideas for sharing the magic of the Disney brand with our clients and potential
clients, and got to have some fun together as well. This AEP was put on by
the good folks at Disney Destinations, and included three great presenters, one
of which has been with Disney for 24 years.
(She certainly knows her stuff!) Following the morning seminars, we were free
to enjoy the ship (or ports of call when appropriate) until show time in the
evening. Then we had the shows, a few
informal meet & greets, and second seating dinner after that. Both were on our agendas, and we were expected
to partake of them all, though a couple of times during the week the presenters
said attendance at the shows was optional.
Though our group did have a few pairs of husband and wife,
the vast majority of the participants in this AEP were
traveling solo. All of the single
travelers had a roommate – some we knew from previous experiences – and others
who were meeting for the very first time.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I already knew my roommate, and we’d
been planning for this trip for the week or two leading up to the sailing. It was fun to further cement that friendship,
while also meeting new friends along the way.
Just as the families and friends sailing together onboard do,
we ate at the same table each night with assigned table mates, and enjoyed the
rotational dining program in each of the beautiful dining rooms on the ship. Just
because it was a special program, didn’t mean we received special treatment. (On this cruise, my favorite meal came from
Parrot Cay, unlike when I sailed on the Disney Magic with my lovely bride in
October – where my favorite meal came from Animator’s Palette). Many fun conversations and much laughter came
during our dinner conversations. Table 7
certainly had some fun times together.
|Here I am, in Cozumel, with some rain clouds in the background|
In each of our ports of call – Grand Cayman and Cozumel – a
number of the agents went off to enjoy and explore the ports together, while
others did so solo. I enjoyed both ports
on a solo basis, and then later enjoyed hearing of my various compatriot’s
tales about their experiences in both ports.
I will share more about my personal experiences in another entry yet to
The weather on our sailing was mostly superb. We did get some rain on and off throughout
the day we were in Cozumel, and our last at-sea day was windy – very windy –
not just the regular breezes you feel as sailing along either – but very windy,
which did produce a little more wave action.
Even though I didn’t, a few members of our group were feeling a bit
nauseous for the first time all week as a result of the stronger winds. The sunshine and warmth was a welcome sight
after dark grey clouds and rain in Cozumel.
|College of Disney Knowledge sling backpack, |
Disney Parks branded pedometer, small tin of DCL logo
bookclips, Graduation Certificate, 3 pins & lanyard, our
choice of one onboard photo, and the training manual
|Exclusive AEP Graduate Pin|
I will say though, that even though we didn’t receive any
special treatment throughout the week, we were given a small tchotchke at the
conclusion of each seminar, and at the end of the week treated to a nice
reception / graduation ceremony on the final afternoon of our cruise. It was a nice cocktail reception, and we each
received our completion certificate and a special pin. Here’s a photo of the few things that we
received. Other than these things just
mentioned, nothing special was done or provided. Will these things by themselves help me to
promote the Disney Cruise Line over any other line?
Absolutely not – but – the experience and
additional knowledge gained about the ship itself and the rest of the DCL fleet –
will help me to recommend DCL whenever appropriate. There is such a perception out there that
DCL is just for families, and that is certainly just not
true. When working with clients, I
always want to make sure that I am recommending the best experience for their
individual needs and desires. I want to
make sure that my clients have the best possible time and get the best value
for their hard-earned money. Many times
that will include DCL in my recommendations, but there are times
that it just won’t. Bringing home a
couple of pins, a certificate and the like won’t change that. After all – it’s their vacation at stake, not
mine. The best value and experience to
one client will not be identical to another client – so being able to match
them up with the best possible experiences is critical. And AEPs such as this one
that I just completed help those of us who sell travel to be able to speak from
experience – not just be items to select from on a nameless, faceless website. I like to treat each client with friendly,
personable and professional one-on-one service.
I don’t just view my clients as another number or sale. I appreciate each and every one, and at the
end of the day, want to know that the recommendations that I make truly are the
best for each client. So these types of familiarization trips are not only nice, but necessary.
So with that, I will bid you adieu for now, or as they say
on board… til we meet again,