We’ve heard this time and time again: “For the price of a Disney Cruise, I could have gone on 3 other cruises on XXXX cruise line”
In this article; we’re going to explore the pros and cons of sailing the seas with Disney.
First; Christine, our two kids and myself have sailed with Disney three times. A three day Castaway Cay sailing on the Dream, a five day on the Wonder where we had a suite and a three day “New Years Eve” Cruise on the Magic.
By far, hands down- our cruise on the Wonder was the best. Why? Concierge Service. We’ve sailed other cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, NCL) and had “concierge” level service, but Disney truely stepped up and provided real service.
We all know that most cruise lines offer an evening show- typically between seatings in the main dining room. However Disney’s shows are broadway caliber- the Golden Mickeys, Once Upon a Dream, and Beauty and the Beast.
Often the shows we’ve seen on other cruise lines, though they are good, aren’t quite up to the standard of “broadway.” Royal Caribbean and NCL’s larger ships have far better quality shows than their smaller ships.
If you’ve ever seen a show, you know there is a difference between that and, say you’re middle school aged child’s theatrical event- it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Same thing goes between Disney’s shows versus other cruise line shows.
Kids are EVERYWHERE!
Think of a cruise ship that holds around 4000 people; at about half of that being children. It’s a lot of kids- mostly well behaved (mostly).
The kids clubs on a Disney Cruise are the best in the industry. In the space that usually is for the casino on other cruise lines, Disney has created massive immersive areas for the kids to play.
The clubs are fantastic… it gives mom and dad a bit of alone time, and gives the kids a bit of time to play and have their own time too.
Royal, NCL, Celebrity, Carnival— pretty much all of the “family” cruise lines have some form of a kids club.
We went on a cruise to Alaska a few years ago on the Celebrity Solstice. Our kids actually LOVED that kids club over Disney’s. Why? Less kids! More attention with the camp counselors.
Pools, Slides, Adult Areas
Most ships have pools. Disney’s Dream and Fantasy offer water slides that wrap around the ship. Disney Wonder and Magic have unique slides as well, along with small water play areas for the little ones.
Ships from other cruise lines also offer water slides. Some better the others- but on all, the lines can be long and after going on the slides 5-10 times, the kiddos will get bored and move on.
All inclusive- is it really “inclusive?”
On most cruise lines, food is inclusive of your passanger fare. Some (NCL, Royal, Carnival) offer drink packages for water, soda and adult beverages. Disney provides soda inclusive in their fare. You’ll save around $10-15 per person per day by not having to purchase a soda drink package.
Every cruise line charges extra for special activities— the Bibididi Bobididy Boutique on Disney, go-karts on NCL, speciality restaurants on Royal- the list goes on and on.
Wi-Fi is rarely included – and if it’s a “free perk” as many cruise lines give as part of their promotion, it’s severely limited in usage.
Pretty much every cruiseline that you would want to take you’re kids on has their own private island. Disney has “Castaway Cay”, Royal has “CocoCay”, NCL has “Great Stirrup” and Carnival has “Half Moon Cay”.
Each island typically offers a nice sandy beach, cabanas, snorkeling, a buffet lunch, drink service, etc.
If you’re a runner- Castaway Cay offers a family friendly 5K early in the morning once you dock.
Both Royal and NCL’s islands are currently undergoing massive redevelopment offering water slides, zip lines and more.
Disney’s Castaway Cay has their “Tram” (think a similar tram to what they cart you around in their parking lots at WDW)… so you get a “ride” from the ship to the beach.
Disney believe it or not isn’t the most expensive cruise line. SevenSeas, Regent, Oceanic are much more expensive than Disney. While it’s not as inexpensive as, say, Carnival, it is still somewhat economical when you compare to other Disney related vacations (the average Disney World vacation hovers around $10,000 for 7-days with 4 people).
Yes, it is true you could spend about half to a third of the cost by going on another cruise lines’ older ships for the same duration cruise.
However, when you start to compare Disney against NCL, Royal and even Carnival’s newest ships— the price starts to even out.
The NCL Bliss and Royal Oasis class ships are the latest and greatest. When compared to Disney’s Dream and Fantasy, pricing is somewhat comparable.
Finding discounts on Disney is tough. Remember your economics class from high school – supply and demand? Disney has four ships— versus many other cruise lines who have tens of ships each. With such limited supply and such high demand, finding last minute deals are not common and also justifies why Disney charges just a bit more than other cruise lines.
So what’s the answer?
It’s ultimately a personal choice. Personally, my wife and I feel that we’ve “been there done that” with Disney cruises. Our kids are a little older now, and their idea of what a cruise should be has evolved too.
We think it’s sort of like going to Disney World. You should to it at least once- and if budget permits more in the future, make a decision from there on about whether to explore other ships from Disney or explore new cruise lines.