Celebrity Reflection Fun Factory Terrible Experience for Our 3 y/o

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#1
St. Simons Island, GA
46 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
We just returned from the 3/23/2013 sailing of the Celebrity Reflection - me, DH, and DS (3 y/o). We knew before booking that Celebrity isn't "known for" being kid-friendly, but I scoured these boards for more detailed information about their "Fun Factory" (kid's area) and found very little. So I'm posting a little about our experience.

This is our third Celebrity cruise (it is/was our favorite cruise line) but our first with a child. Our 3 y/o son is very social, loves going to daycare, is happy and used to staying with sitters. So we thought the Fun Factory would be a good experience for him. It wasn't.

First, the area reserved for 3-5 year olds is tiny. No room to run around. Mostly tables at which they color and do art/craft projects - not his thing. He likes more active, physical activities. Second, he told us that another kid "pushed him down the stairs." Ok, he's 3 and I suspect it was more like somebody pushed him back or rushed by him accidentally knocking into him. He insists the "boy in the red shirt did it on purpose," but really, who knows?

When I tried to address this issue with the staff at the Fun Factory, they got very defensive and launched into a litany of excuses despite the fact that I told them I understood that he was 3 and kids were rough, etc. I just wanted to find out if it was while the bigger kids were with them or what. Anyway, I was upset that they didn't offer assurances--or even listen to me--without interrupting with defensiveness and excuses. Bad juju for this mom.

After the first time, he said he didn't want to go back. But we tried it twice more for a couple of hours at a time. On the fourth time, he cried (he _never_ cries) and they called us to come get him. So my very social kid spent almost the whole 7 days with us.

This was a Spring Break cruise, so there were 650 "kids" (under 18) on board. There was no lack of kids to socialize with him. It was the place and the staff.

My unsolicited advice - if you have small kids, go on Disney or one of the other 'family friendly' lines. The passengers on board were very gracious and tolerant of him, which was a pleasant surprise. The Fun Factory, however, was a total bust. We'll be cruising Disney next time.
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Have cruised Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival. Worked on Carnival ships a million years ago after college.
#2
Ontario
701 Posts
Joined Dec 2010
Wow, so sorry to hear. Thanks for the info. We've considered X but have such a good experience on RCI we haven`t jumped over yet!
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#3
Toronto
3,516 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by TW0589
We just returned from the 3/23/2013 sailing of the Celebrity Reflection - me, DH, and DS (3 y/o). We knew before booking that Celebrity isn't "known for" being kid-friendly, but I scoured these boards for more detailed information about their "Fun Factory" (kid's area) and found very little. So I'm posting a little about our experience.

This is our third Celebrity cruise (it is/was our favorite cruise line) but our first with a child. Our 3 y/o son is very social, loves going to daycare, is happy and used to staying with sitters. So we thought the Fun Factory would be a good experience for him. It wasn't.

First, the area reserved for 3-5 year olds is tiny. No room to run around. Mostly tables at which they color and do art/craft projects - not his thing. He likes more active, physical activities. Second, he told us that another kid "pushed him down the stairs." Ok, he's 3 and I suspect it was more like somebody pushed him back or rushed by him accidentally knocking into him. He insists the "boy in the red shirt did it on purpose," but really, who knows?

When I tried to address this issue with the staff at the Fun Factory, they got very defensive and launched into a litany of excuses despite the fact that I told them I understood that he was 3 and kids were rough, etc. I just wanted to find out if it was while the bigger kids were with them or what. Anyway, I was upset that they didn't offer assurances--or even listen to me--without interrupting with defensiveness and excuses. Bad juju for this mom.

After the first time, he said he didn't want to go back. But we tried it twice more for a couple of hours at a time. On the fourth time, he cried (he _never_ cries) and they called us to come get him. So my very social kid spent almost the whole 7 days with us.

This was a Spring Break cruise, so there were 650 "kids" (under 18) on board. There was no lack of kids to socialize with him. It was the place and the staff.

My unsolicited advice - if you have small kids, go on Disney or one of the other 'family friendly' lines. The passengers on board were very gracious and tolerant of him, which was a pleasant surprise. The Fun Factory, however, was a total bust. We'll be cruising Disney next time.
Sorry to hear about your experience. DS went on RCCL when he was 3 and Disney when he was 4, Princess and HAL when he was 6 and 7. We haven't been on Celebrity. Disney had the least amount of supervision of any cruise line we've been on. Even though we were on DCL for an 11 day cruise, I doubt that any of the staff even knew his name. It was a free for all. We had a similar experience at Disney's Aulani resort. So, I would not assume that because Disney has a family friendly reputation, that their child care is even as good as other cruise lines or resorts.
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#4
Clark, NJ, USA
7,322 Posts
Joined May 2004
Originally posted by boulders
Sorry to hear about your experience. DS went on RCCL when he was 3 and Disney when he was 4, Princess and HAL when he was 6 and 7. We haven't been on Celebrity. Disney had the least amount of supervision of any cruise line we've been on. Even though we were on DCL for an 11 day cruise, I doubt that any of the staff even knew his name. It was a free for all. We had a similar experience at Disney's Aulani resort. So, I would not assume that because Disney has a family friendly reputation, that their child care is even as good as other cruise lines or resorts.
DGS much preferred RCCL to Disney - as did his parents.
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Geri
#5
central florida
125 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
Don't think because it's Disney it will all be good. We took a 5 day cruise with them and our dd hated the kids area. It wasn't the kids- the activities were BORING to her. They rely very heavily on animation and electronics to keep them busy (she was 7) and she was into more physical and imaginative play at that time. We thought we would have alone time but she ended up spending all but 3 hours with us.


We are now going on Princess to Alaska and Celebrity thru Panama Canal and she is now 15. She knows she will probably not have anyone to hang with because of the timing on our cruises, she's ok with that and is perfectly able to amuse herself now.
#6
boston
292 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Sorry your son did not have a good experience in the Fun Factory. It's too bad your concerns were not addressed. I would be upset, too.

However, I do want to share the fact that we had a wonderful experience in the Fun Factory on the Eclipse when our son was 4. He is a high activity boy who loves to run around. It's true that the Fun Factory doesn't have a lot of active play space. But, we made sure our son got his activity in the family pool and at the beaches on shore days. As a result, a few hours in the Fun Factory every day were really successful.

The Fun Factory was not overcrowded, and our son got lots of individual attention. Our son does not do well in overstimulating environments (like Disney), so this is one of the reasons we picked Celebrity. The Fun Factory was exactly what we were looking for. I would recommend Celebrity for families who enjoy a quieter overall experience and child care that is not chaotic and overstimulating.

Another thing. The Fun Factory is usually at the front of the ship where there's more motion. Any chance you child was just feeling "off" due to the motion and didn't want to go for that reason but couldn't actually express it in words?



.
#7
3,722 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
DD is now 17YO, but we do often travel with family who have younger kids. NCL and RCCI's kids programs get thumbs way up. X has also been a hit with the kids. Princess got mixed reviews -- some thought it was too much "sit down" time. As others have noted, Disney was not a hit with my DD when she was 7YO -- she found the kids club to be a free-for-all.
#8
Phoenix, AZ
2,698 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
I'm sorry that the OP had a bad experience, but I do feel the need to speak up in general for the Celebrity kids program. We did 3 Celebrity cruises using the Fun Factory and had great experiences each time. For our 4th X cruise last month, my youngest had just turned 12 and "graduated" from the Fun Factory. She is very shy and it was much harder for her to be in a teen program on our Spring Break cruise. I found myself wishing she was still in the Fun Factory.

I don't mean to discount in any way the negative experience by the OP. But by the same token I just want to say that our experiences were very positive.
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#9
Texas
10,851 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
I am so sorry that your little one had a terrible experience. I like to think of this as the exception rather than the rule.

We have sailed with X and they were wonderful with our little ones.

We have also sailed on board Princess and the little ones (3 and 4) at the time did not want to leave.

We are fixing to sail on board Disney. We will come back and report our experience.
#10
Atlanta, GA
1,075 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
Sorry about your experience. I would be upset if they didn't listen too. DD didn't love her X experience either, although it was better than the experience you had. Don't think Disney is a sure thing though. DD wasn't much more impressed. I was, she wasn't. The kid's club she truly LOVES is Camp Carnival. She is mixed about the other lines.
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#11
Apopka, FL
1,356 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Thank you for sharing your experience. We love sailing Celebrity, but I won't do it with my kids. My youngest is autistic, and we need to make sure he has a good time too, so when we travel with the kids we usually do RC instead. My dh wanted to give Celebrity a try with the kids just once, but I wasn't comfortable with doing it, and your post has solidified it for me.
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#12
Port Orange, FL
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Joined Mar 2003
I'll also agree with the comment that DCL is a free for all. It's crazy in there, kids everywhere, and though there were supposed to be planned activities, we never saw anything organized when we were dropping off or picking up. With the wristbands each child had to wear, they knew exactly what room she was in, but I had to find her myself. They wouldn't let her leave without the "code word" and a parents pass card, but it still was a bit strange to have adults wander through, IMO. This was my DD's 6th cruise, and she was 6 yo, and no stranger to on board kids programs. On RCI we have to bribe her to leave, and she would willingly give up pool time to go to camp. Not so on DCL...she would go, but ask to leave early, and never ask to stay when we picked her up.

All that aside, DCL was a nice cruise, I've been on the Wonder w/o kids and the Dream was the cruise mentioned above. On the whole it was a great vacation, their private island can't be beat...as much as we love RCI overall, I will give the nod to DCL for Castaway Cay. DH and my older kids choose RCI, if asked the younger DD will tell you DCL was fun, but she likes Oasis best, lol. I will still cruise DCL, but not with my family...my annual girlfriend getaway weekend is always WDW or a 3 night on DCL. Surprisingly enough, they do make a great adults cruise.
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#13
Calgary, AB
53 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
This just goes to show that everyone experiences cruises differently. My oldest boy (admittedly he has Aspergers and enjoys electronics) still raves to his brothers about the DCl cruise we took him on 4 years ago.

When we went on the Freedom last year with all three boys, my wife and I were not impressed with the clubs and none of our boys have expressed an interest to go back on Royal Caribbean.

At this point I don't know if I would do a line other than DCL with small kids.
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#15
near Philly
2,468 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
I think the experiences on a ship or line can be so varied week to week.
We've done Disney a few times and for the most part the kids enjoyed it. The only bad experience was last time when my older son went to the teen room to make flubber and was super disappointed because the adult in charge didn't run the activity well. So it was wasted time & no flubber

On the other hand my younger son had a great time.

We had a bad experience on one RCL ship but good on another. So you really never know. And that was only really bad because 1 boy made fun of my son & he refused to go back.

IMO it boils down to the staff and the general attitude of the kids.

I think sometimes Spring Break is hard because there are so many kids and its hard to deal with that when they're usually low number.

I also think its a matter of balance with the clubs. The kids are out of their element to start with so sometimes being dropped off can be traumatic. I kind of compare it to that first week of pre-K or Kindergarten. That can throw kids off where a normally happy social kid might not be because they're out of their element.
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#16
Florida
2,904 Posts
Joined Apr 2013
I agree. I am not sure you can judge a program when it is filled to capacity. We are purposely sailing off-season with our 4 y/o son on a smaller ship, so that he does get a bit more attention and is not overwelmed. Last year, we took him to WDW, and put him in the Neverland Club twice, and he loved it. I asked the lady in there how many kids they could accomodate - she told me that they were approved for 99 kids. I was SHOCKED! I asked how many they were planning to have that night, she told me between 12-16 (they had 12 reservations, and usually have a few walk-ins/last minutes). I am sure that if they were filled to capacity, my son's experience would have been dramatically different.
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#17
71 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
Ha! That is funny. My Aspie loved the DCL kids club as well. My (NT) 3 yr old didn't really enjoy it much. There was very limited supervision and few actual programs to keep them busy. I mean, they had them, but only one or two hour long progams a day that we really could take advantage of. I was sort of disappointed by the Kids Club experience after hearing all of the DCL raves.
#18
brazil
4,198 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Sorry the OP had a negative experience . I would agree that the Spring Break timef frame may have had some relation and the staff may have been overwhelmed. As a teacher , I know sometimes that feeling ...itcwasn't cool that they didn't listen to your concerns.

We have always been very impressed by the Fun Factory ( we have sailed on 4 Celebrity ships). Very good staff and lots of one on one attention. The only bad kid's club experience we have had was on the Carnival Dream. I am sure lots depends on the season , how many kids , etc.
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#19
Henrico, VA
782 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Sorry you had a negative experience on X. We haven't cruised with our kids yet, but our first family cruise will be on Disney. But I think it depends on the child and the ship at that time. On our RCL Freedom cruise (it was a wedding cruise for my cousin and extended family was on it), one of the kids in our group absolutely hated the kids club, her mom ended up having to bail on the adult activities to be with her daughter. The girl was 8 I think at that time.
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Mandy

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#20
5 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
We just returned from a 7 nt. Alaska cruise on the Infinity. This was cruise #31 for my DH and me, but the first for our son, his wife, and their 4 yr. old son. We were expecting to help out a lot with childcare, but also to make use of the Fun Factory facilities. An incident the first day made short work of that! We signed our grandson in, and left, only to be called back in a panic by our son an hour later. Our grandson had asked to go to the bathroom, so one of the workers took him, closed the door on him and left him alone. Predictably, he 'pooped his pants,' because he couldn't get up on the adult sized toilet by himself, and nobody had shown him the footstool (on the other side of the bathroom!). He also had no idea how to open the door,plus the floor was wet and slippery. By the time we were called, it was too late and we had a real mess to clean up. We asked the workers why he was left in there alone, and were told it is Celebrity policy. They are NOT allowed to assist or accompany any child into the bathroom, even if they know the kid needs help. It would have been really nice if they'd told us this on our initial tour of the place! I had earlier observed a worker open the bathroom door for another (sobbing) child, who obviously couldn't figure out how to open the door either! IMHO, their policies are not suitable for 3-4 year olds.