When booking a cruise with Disney Cruise Line, you will undoubtedly come upon the Concierge Level Suites and notice a distinct difference in price. So what is the Concierge Level on Disney Cruise Line and what do you need to know before booking?
The Concierge Level promises signature Concierge services that start before you board the ship and continue throughout your vacation and beyond. Here’s our first hand experience with the Concierge Level on Disney Cruise Line.
Once you have booked a Concierge Level suite, you have access to pre-arrival Concierge services. This is huge. Starting 120 days prior to sailing, you have first access to booking all excursions, restaurant reservations, spa appointments and cabanas for Castaway Cay. To make it even less stressful, you can provide a list of things you would like to do via email to the shoreside Concierges 125 days before booking opens up and they will make the bookings for you.
In addition, you can call a specific toll free number that goes directly to a concierge who provides personalized assistance to you over the phone. I found this extremely helpful and used the dedicated concierge email address to clarify questions I had regarding carry-ons and embarkation as well as to book reservations for our group of 8 although I was the only person in a concierge suite.
When you book the Concierge Level, you are essentially promised the best service offered at sea. Our experience on Embarkation Day was a mix of both. When you arrive at the Port, there is no separate section for Concierge Level guests until you get through all of security which can take a long time. We were behind a family who had more than 5 things confiscated and were demanding their prompt return. After that, you do get to skip some substantial line ups.
Once inside, we checked in and the woman at the desk was quite upset that I hadn’t printed out some documents before arriving. After receiving a long winded speech from her, she pressed print and I signed the papers in less than 30 seconds.
To say there is a Concierge Lounge in the Port is a little of a stretch. We were welcomed into a small room with nothing to do and ended up joining the masses for a chance to meet Captain Mickey before boarding.
Boarding the Ship
One of the benefits of the Concierge Level is that you get to board the ship first and your room is ready by 12:30 pm. This meant that we boarded and were whisked away to a private reception with free cocktails and food and then were able to hit the pools immediately before anyone else was on board. The most convenient part being that because our room was ready, we didn’t have to drag our carry-on around and we were able to settle into our room.
On Board Concierge
The moment you board, you are introduced to your dedicated Concierge and their backup partner who is available when your Concierge is on break. Our Concierge Glenn was a great guy and immediately clicked with my kids. His backup partner was equally amazing.
Glenn provided tickets to us for each Princess Meet and Greet without me asking and was able to get tickets for all the other families we were traveling with who were not on the Concierge level. He also was able to scrape together two Cabanas on Castaway Cay that we had previously not been able to book online as they were sold out.
When one of the children in our party got sick, it was Glenn to the rescue making sure we could rebook the über popular Anna and Elsa meet and greet and providing ginger ale, dry crackers and popcorn.
Concierge Amenities on the Disney Wonder
Our room was nice but in pretty bad shape. The Disney Wonder is scheduled for re-imagination in 2016 and its showing its age. The wear and tear is showing on the rooms and we had a slight incident where the bathtub faucet actually fell off when the tap was turned on.
On the Disney Dream, you are given exclusive access to Concierge dedicated areas on the ship. On the Disney Wonder no such spaces exist. Instead of the promised “stylish, modern setting, where guests can relax in quiet comfort, sip a cocktail, access the Internet, watch news on a large-screen TV and enjoy complimentary food and beverages offered throughout the day”, you have a limited number of events in a coffee lounge for an hour or so a day.
Also the newer ships have an exclusive Concierge-only sun deck which due to the overcrowding on our cruise would have been huge but again wasn’t offered on the Disney Wonder.
As someone who has experienced a lot of luxury travel, I would have expected a few more perks like the ability to reserve seats by the pool or towel service neither of which were offered.
Concierge Cocktail Hours and Character Meet and Greet
Although it was nice to be offered a free cocktail once in a while, the timing of the events often didn’t make sense. On the evening of the Pirate Night in particular, Concierge level guests were invited to Deck 10 to enjoy free cocktails and canapés. The big issue being that you could not actually see the Pirate Night show from the party. A much more reasonable and expected solution would have been a small roped off portion of the top deck overlooking the party where cocktails could have been served and Concierge level guests would not miss out on the biggest party on the boat.
The Concierge level guests were also offered an exclusive meet and greet with one character. I was told that the character is usually Donald, Goofy or Pluto and no one really knows until the character arrives. This was the best part of our Concierge Level experience as Donald went from table to table and spent time with every family. He joked with the kids and was a pleasure to visit with. The Concierges made sure each family had had a lengthy visit with the duck and then he was on his way.
In Room Refreshments
One of the things that I did not realize is that you need to pay for refreshments in your room if you are not a concierge level guest. Bottled water is never free and sodas are only complimentary when you are in the restaurants or by the pool. Our Concierge asked what our preferences were in our room (water only please) and within an hour all of the soda had been removed and replaced by water. This was actually a huge perk as the tap water wasn’t fantastic and I didn’t have to run around all the time to get water for the kids.
When booking the concierge level, you are promised other in room food deliveries. Ours were a fruit basket, chocolate covered strawberries, a cheese plate and the most delicious plate of olives and nuts I have had in a while. The kids tested the strawberries which got two thumbs down for using fake chocolate but the other food deliveries were quite good.
A big part of booking the Concierge Level is having access to the Cabanas on Castaway Cay. You still need to pay for them ($600) but they sell out quickly and some are reserved for Concierge Guests. We unfortunately could not dock on Castaway Cay due to weather but were glad to be offered the option.
Is Concierge Level on Disney Cruise Line Worth the Cost?
After having thought about this for a few weeks, the answer to me is still yes. The answer if you are traveling on the newer Disney Dream would be undoubtedly yes. Having Glenn on a board changed our whole cruise. When anything happened, and things did, Glenn quickly explained the situation at hand. He always reminded me of our planned activities and Meet and Greets so we didn’t miss them. He was a pleasure to have around and I can’t imagine the cruise without his help and suggestions. Sometimes when I’m at home and something goes wrong, I still find myself looking around for Glenn.
I would advise if you are traveling in a larger group, 3 or more families, that one family book into the Concierge Level on Disney Cruise Line as all the families traveling with me were able to benefit from some the perks like booking princess meet and greets. If you are only one or two families in your party and you are sailing on the older ships, I wouldn’t bother.