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Disney Dream Cruise Review
January 3-8, 2012

by JHM

From January 3 through January 8, 2012 my extended family of nineteen kids and grandkids cruised to the Bahamas on the Disney Dream in five adjoining cabins to celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary. We love to cruise and have sailed: Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess, and the Disney Magic about ten years ago with our family that was about half the current size. In just about every aspect I’d rate the Dream to be the bottom of the performance list. Bigger is not always better.

The boarding process was a little confusing. Since some of the grandkids were not in their parents staterooms, we got conflicting directions form the agents who were checking us in. One said the group had to be checked in as a family unit another agent argued that we must be checked in according to each stateroom. We felt like we were in a penalty box while they argued to figure our who was right

We had to wait until 4:00 PM to enter our stateroom. Everything was going well and the staterooms looked great, but we did notice an odor in the bathroom. Maintenance people arrived the next day to treat the problem without us notifying anyone, but the odor (a faint sewer gas smell) never went away. I guess this is a common problem on the Dream and learned from other posted comments that closing the stopper on the bathroom sink helped.

Our real problems started on the way to late seating dinner on the second day. As we got off the elevator we had to walk around a vomit mess in the hall. Then my six year old grand son suddenly also became ill and vomited.

By the end of the cruise nine of us contracted a painful stomach virus while on the ship due in part I believe to the negligent service we received aboard the ship. Approximately 36 hours after boarding the ship; my five year old granddaughter woke from her sleep with severe stomach pains. She vomited several times and was unable to make it to the bathroom from her top bunk in time and vomited in the cabin. Maintenance was called to clean and deodorize their stateroom. A short time later, a gentleman came with a towel and a squirt bottle of deodorizer. The carpet was not properly cleaned and the vomit on the curtain separating the bed from the children’s quarters was never cleaned or deodorized. The rest of the trip they slept with the balcony door open (a security hazard) because the room smelled terrible. The next morning, we notified the room hostess that the stateroom needed cleaning and that our granddaughter was sick. A crew member advised us that we should not report the sickness to the medical facility because my granddaughter would be quarantined and that would ‘ruin’ our vacation. However, we disregarded the advice and took her to the medical facility. She was quarantined and sent back to our cabin where we were assured that guest services would take care of all of her needs.

They were very helpful during her quarantined period, although the room was never fully cleaned or deodorized. On Friday, my son and his ten year old daughter came down with the same symptoms. Again, the room was soiled and left unclean. We made requests that the carpet be steam cleaned and deodorized; this never happened. We requested vomit bags or containers for the children; we were told none were available.

On Saturday, my daughter-in law took her two sons to Castaway Cay. On the way back to the Tram, the youngest one became sick and vomited in the bushes next to the Tram. The Tram operator observed the obvious illness and ignored us. We had no choice but to get onto the Tram and expose other passengers to the illness. Then, we had to stand in line to re-enter the ship while both boys were barely able to stand and were vomiting. At no time, did any Disney Dream employee offer to help. We were never separated from other passengers or escorted to the medical facility; which would have demonstrated prudence, compassion, and responsibility on behalf of the Dream and its crew.

Upon returning to the stateroom we found that my sick son and granddaughter had spent the day in very unsanitary conditions: vomit was left on the bathroom floor preventing use of the lavatory, vomit soiled towels were left on the floor of the cabin for the duration of the day, bedding was soiled and unchanged, and the odor was nearly unbearable. The room was not cleaned until guest services were called again. The room hostess rushed to get the room cleaned up at 5:30 that evening.

We called the medical facility and explained that my son, two granddaughters, and two grandsons were extremely ill. They were experiencing violent episodes of vomiting and were very weak. We requested that medical help be sent to our stateroom, but our request was denied and we were instructed that the only way we could receive medical care was if we walked to the medical facility. We were in staterooms located on the 10th deck aft. The medical facility is first deck forward. This meant that we had no choice but to once again expose other passengers as we traveled down the elevators and through the ship at a time when many passengers were heading out for dinner.

At the medical facility, all four were given medical care and placed on quarantine. They returned to their cabins just before dinner. At dinner we asked the server to please send their meals and beverages to the stateroom. An hour and a half later the grandkids had fallen asleep without dinner, as the meals had never been delivered. No one from guest services called to check-in on my family as they had done when the youngest granddaughter was sick and no fluids or other necessary items were brought to our stateroom.

The following morning as we were preparing to disembark, my daughter-in-law became very ill. She attempted to leave the ship, but only made it as far as the lobby where she nearly passed out. I dialed 911 on the phone by the elevator and a medic arrived and escorted her via a wheel chair to the medical facility. She was repeatedly told that the ship could not be cleared until she left. She was given medications to prevent vomiting and transported in a wheel chair to the Disney shuttle that took us to the airport. The medic that treated her urged that seek an Urgent Care facility where they could administer IV fluids. I am doubtful that the Disney shuttle driver would have obliged such a request. Another daughter-in-law and grandson became ill as they got off the ship and spent the trip to the airport in the shuttle bathroom.

I was completely and repeatedly shocked at the negligence we witnessed on the ship. We were not given and did not have access to proper cleaning supplies, bags or containers for vomit. We were not separated and/or escorted for medical help when it was obvious that we were in need. We were advised to not report the illness by a Disney Crew member. We were not only forced off the ship during a period of time when we were all 'under quarantine', but we were also placed on a Disney shuttle where many more people were exposed to the illness and then dropped off at the airport! It has also become apparent that proper medical records were not kept. In a response to my on-line complaint to Disney Customer Service detailing this experience, they responded that they only have record of five family members treated at the Dream’s medical facility. I have receipts for the six who actually received medical care.

It is understandable that no illness is completely preventable. However, it was through the lack of proper sanitation and the negligence of service that we received aboard the ship that the spread of the illness affected 9 out of the 19 family members on this cruise.

What are most disturbing were the Disney Customer Service responses to my letters. They refused to acknowledge or agree to follow-up with any investigation or corrective action to any of the issues I raised.

I contacted the CDC and found that through the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program an Inspection Report of the Disney Dream was issued two weeks before our cruise on 12/18/2011. I reviewed the 26 reported issues that the CDC noted in their audit report and 22 of these seem to relate to the problems we experienced. There are 4 deficiencies in reporting (one is in Medical), there are 6 sanitation issues, 8 food preparation issues, 3 deficiencies dealing with water purity and 1 issue on Outbreak Prevention. Many, if not all of these deficiencies, could have contributed to the Medical-Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) that nine of my family experienced on this cruise.

I am sorry to say we will not be sailing on the Dream again any time soon.


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