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Disney Cruise president announces free texting for crew

Mickey’s Sail-a-Wave Party
Providing a happy work environment for crew is important, Here, cast members applaud a young guest at Mickey's Sail-a-Wave embarkation party PHOTO: Matt Stroshane/Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line President Jeff Vahle visits the ships regularly to connect with crew so he’s heard how meaningful it is for them to keep up with loved ones back home. Responding to that, Disney is now rolling out free texting for crew across its fleet.

Crew with iOS and Android devices will be able to send and receive unlimited text messages and use Whatsapp while on board, at no charge.

‘We recognize how important it is for our crew members to be able to stay in touch with their families and friends, and we’re proud to provide this benefit,’ Vahle said.

Enthusiastic response

When free texting was announced on Disney Magic this week, 400 crew — or more than 40% of the complement — signed up in the first 24 hours, showing the popularity of this service.

Over the next three weeks, free texting will be implemented on Disney Fantasy, Disney Dream and Disney Wonder, consecutively.

Disney is believed to be the first major cruise line to offer this service.

‘This is another way Disney continues to provide a great crew experience for our shipboard teams,’ Vahle said.

A differentiated experience for crew

The Walt Disney Co. is noted for its highly competitive employee benefits and satisfaction, and Vahle hopes the entire cruise experience is a differentiator — from the on-board leadership to the crew facilities and amenities as well as the brand and the ships themselves.

Given the demand for seagoing personnel in the fast-growing cruise industry and the fact that Disney itself will be adding three new ships in coming years, starting with Disney Wish in 2021, it’s all the more vital to ensure crew a happy work environment.

‘Our job as leaders is to help them to do their best job every day,’ Vahle told Seatrade Cruise News. He noted that 80% of employees stay or leave a job based on the leader they have.

More than 80 nationalities

Disney crew represent more than 80 nationalities. Some are very far from home when they serve on board.

Vahle enjoys his crew interactions on the ships.

‘They’re not shy,’ he said. ‘I get so many positive comments about how they love working for Disney, both what they love and what they would like to see improved.’

Internet always comes up.

That's a challenge all lines face, due to the steep cost of the technology. And Wi-Fi is a highly demanded commodity for both guests and crew.

Like some other lines, Disney currently provides crew a discounted Wi-Fi package on board and works with vendors to offer savings off the ships, as well. What ports and destinations do for crew is taken into account, Vahle added.