Manley Creative Team

Customer Service Lessons from a Disney Cruise

July 20, 2022

“I highly recommend a Disney Cruise” -Jim Manley, to every single person he talks to.

I love traveling, but cruises are not at the top of my list. However, 4 years ago I was convinced by Mrs. Manley to take our youngest son on a Disney Cruise. This year, she didn’t have to talk me into going on our second excursion. In fact, I initiated the conversation. Why? Because the customer service experience is a master class of how to hold and coddle a client like a newborn baby, so they never ever consider going anywhere else. And I study their methods as if I was a student in Disney University.

It’s simply remarkable what they pull off. None of us are really into Disney…except for Star Wars, of course. But that’s not why we’re on the ship. The crazy good customer service begins with the booking experience and then snowballs into ludicrous attention to detail every step after that. The process is systematic, consistent and almost hypnotic. As a business owner, while I’m sailing across the sea, I can’t help but to take notes, compare/contrast to what my company does and try to find holes in their customer experience excellence (I kind of found one).

No company is perfect and I’m sure Disney Cruises have its internal and external challenges. For instance, I don’t know anything about their employee work/life balance, pay, benefits, etc. That being said, here are 5 things they nail. And 1 thing I hope they change.


If you can get a booking rep on the phone, it is magical. Across the board, they have the same demeanor. They’re not in a hurry. They are extremely knowledgeable about all of the ships, all of the ports, all of the..everything. In short, they make you feel like you’re their only customer.


The first thing they do is ask about the family. This isn’t a cookie-cutter call for them. It’s textbook service geared toward ensuring an individualized journey based on my family’s specific wants, needs and desired outcomes.


When a client chooses to spend their money with you, make it well-known that they’ve made the correct decision. The clear, concise communication via email, texts and app BEFORE embarkment is comforting. I feel connected and cared for in this process. I’ve just spent a lot of dough and they’re making me feel good about it.


Once onboard, that feeling of being cradled like an infant is amplified to ridiculous levels. It begins with knowing exactly what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen. This allows me, the client, to discard any thoughts of risk, stress or tension. From there, it’s a steady stream of waiters, room service folks, kid’s club workers, bartenders, pool attendants, guest services, people in white uniforms who look like they might be in charge of driving the ship asking you how you’re doing…and genuinely wanting an answer. By the 2nd day, most of them know your name. It just gets better and more impressive from there.


Even though they had thought of everything, they decided to think of one more thing. Word got around that my 7-year-old boy is a Star Wars fan. With a wave of a magic wand, an awesome Star Wars backpack wondrously appeared in our room…free of charge.


Guest services on the ship are wide open to feedback. There’s also a thorough customer survey that’s sent out electronically. But I prefer to give feedback in person. And this is where I was able to unload about the perceived imperfection mentioned above. I let them know that when we arrived on the ship, my foldable travel guitar was confiscated and held until we disembarked. Imagine a smoker being told he or she couldn’t bring their cigarettes onboard. I know it sounds a little silly, but this is the soul-crushing feeling I had when they informed me that “it’s in the rules” (in the paperwork they sent several times). I didn’t read that part. And that’s my fault. But still, it’s a rule that needs to be changed or altered. I offered some solutions and I felt like they cared and listened intently. Maybe a Star Wars guitar will magically appear in my room the next time we sail with them.  

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