I’m a big fan of Disney Cruise Line. I am most decidedly NOT a fan of the Disney Cruise Line website. Even as an experienced user, I’m often frustrated when trying to navigate the site. I know the information is there, they just make it so darn hard to find it.
Here are some of the things I think the DCL website could do to improve the end user experience.
1. Allow you to search for any cruise within a range of dates.
The DCL home screen has a “cruise search” tool with three pull-down menus: Date, Destination, and Departure Port. To search for a cruise, you are forced to make selections for all three parameters. I’d love to be able to see all the cruises available using just one or two of the parameters.
For example, after our very active Adventures by Disney trip to Peru last Christmas, my family unanimously decided to be as lazy as possible during Christmas 2015, which means lounging on the deck of a cruise ship with umbrella drink in hand. Since the point of the trip is sitting and sleeping, we honestly don’t care where the ship is going. And since we’ll have to fly to get to any DCL voyage, it doesn’t matter much to us which port we sail from. I want to input the dates of my kids’ holiday break and see what all our options are in one swoop, but this is not possible. Instead, I have to run multiple searches, choosing the month desired AND a destination AND a departure port. I really don’t care if we sail out of Miami or Port Canaveral or if we go to the Bahamas or the Caribbean, but DCL forces me to make those choices. It takes too many steps just to figure out which sailings occur in December.
2. Eliminate empty set searches from the home page.
Looking again at that home page search box – if I select, for example, December 2015 as my travel date, all of Disney Cruise Line’s destinations remain in the second pull-down menu. I can select December 2015 and then select Alaska as my destination, which then changes my date selection back to “Choose a Date.” I happen to know that there are no DCL cruises to Alaska in December (because brrrrr), but if I were unfamiliar with the site or with cruising in general, I’d be very confused about what I was doing wrong.
The problem continues if you select a valid combination of date and destination. You can select, for example, May 2015 as your date, and California Coast as your destination, but you’ll still have Barcelona as one of your departure port options. Why?
If there will be nothing that meets your search criteria, then those search criteria should not be selectable. Disney, please eliminate Alaska as a destination option on the home page if the guest selects a winter travel date, along with all the other null set choice combinations.
Note: the DCL site does “gray out” null set selections on later pages, but not on the home page, where most new users start their search.
3. Sort port adventures by mobility criteria.
The DCL ships themselves are largely accessible to those with mobility issues, such as wheelchair or ECV users. However, depending on the port, a majority of the port adventures (excursions) may not be wheelchair or ECV accessible. DCL does allow you to sort by age or activity type, but there is no place to select something like “wheelchair accessible” when looking for excursions. Even selecting your activity type as “mild” does not necessarily help. For example, in Nassau, the Seaworld Explorer Semi-submarine excursion is listed as a mild activity, but wheelchairs and scooters are prohibited. It would be nice if wheelchair users didn’t have to click through every port adventure just to see which few are available to them.
4. Sort port adventures by price.
From a marketing perspective, I understand why Disney doesn’t allow guests to sort port adventure options by price. It makes sense that they want to get you, and your kids, fixated on the super spectacular dog sled and helicopter adventure before you realize that it could cost your family thousands of dollars for just a few hours. But many families are on a budget and need to carefully allocate their excursion spending. A sort-by-price feature would allow budget-conscious guests to more easily identify activities within their fixed price range.
5. Give more information and booking options to parties of more than four.
Back to that holiday 2015 trip I’ve been planning … One of the options we were considering was the December 26 sailing on the Fantasy. When checking availability, I entered my party size as 5, the number of people in my family. For a party of five, the DCL website shows that there is no availability on this sailing; it doesn’t even appear in my search results. Had I been new at using the site, or new to cruise planning in general, I likely would have given up at this point.
However, when I configured my search as a party of two and a party of three, many options appeared for that December 26 voyage. The DCL site sees that all my kids are all older teens; I was asked to enter their ages. Many families with teens are comfortable putting them in a nearby cabin. So, why doesn’t it offer a quote for two staterooms for my family? They at least should have given me a pop-up window saying that all larger 5+ person cabins were booked, but that we could be a accommodated in two cabins. A new user would have then known to try again.
These are just a few of my frustrations with the DCL website. The cruises themselves are so friendly, it’s really a shame that the website isn’t equally as welcoming. Do you have frustrations with the DCL website? Are there functions you wish it had? Are there things you think it does particularly well? Let us know in the comments below.