If you’re considering embarking on a memorable cruise vacation, you might find yourself torn between Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean. Both cruise lines offer an array of destinations, experiences, amenities, and fun for all ages. But how do you determine which one is the right fit for your next getaway? To assist you in making the best decision, we’ve put together a detailed comparison of Disney Cruise vs Royal Caribbean Cruise, highlighting the key differences and helping you select the perfect cruise experience for your needs.

What Is a Disney Cruise?

Aerial image of the Disney Magic Cruise Ship sailing with a partly cloudy sky in the background

Disney Magic | Image © Disney

A Disney Cruise is a magical vacation experience that captivates the entire family. As a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, Disney Cruise Line expertly combines the enchantment of Disney’s world-famous entertainment with the adventure and relaxation of a cruise vacation. Onboard their uniquely designed ships, you’ll find a wealth of activities, world-class entertainment, award-winning dining options, and fun for all ages – from children’s activities to adult-only areas. There’s something for everyone when you cruise with Disney!

Sailing to popular destinations such as the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Alaska, and Europe, Disney Cruise Line offers a variety of itineraries that create unforgettable journeys. Guests can expect character meet-and-greets, Broadway-style shows, themed deck parties, and VIP access to local attractions through the Port Adventures program. With an emphasis on family-friendly entertainment and exceptional service, Disney Cruise Line ensures that every voyage fills your heart with lasting memories and a sense of wonder.

What Is a Royal Caribbean Cruise?

A nighttime view of Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas cruise ship, with multicolored lights glowing throughout the ship

Icon of the Seas | Image © Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is a leading cruise operator known for its innovative ships and exhilarating onboard experiences. From the moment you embark on one of their state-of-the-art vessels, you’ll be swept away into a world of adventure, excitement, and relaxation. Royal Caribbean’s commitment to providing an extraordinary vacation is evident in its diverse range of activities and immersive experiences, ensuring that each day is filled with unforgettable memories for every guest.

Aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise, there’s no shortage of opportunities to delight and entertain passengers of all ages. Whether you’re soaking up the sun on their beautifully designed decks, browsing the selection at duty-free shops, or savoring delectable dishes at their world-class restaurants, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Beyond the array of onboard entertainment and activities, guests can expect spacious, comfortable staterooms complete with top-notch service and mesmerizing ocean views.

Comparing Disney Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruises

When choosing between Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean for your next vacation, it’s crucial to understand the key differences between these two renowned cruise lines. We’ve prepared a comprehensive comparison of their fleets, pricing, itineraries, destinations, activities, dining, suitability for kids and adults, and overall experience to help you make an informed decision.

Fleet

Disney Cruise Line operates a smaller, more intimate fleet of five ships: Disney Magic, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Wish, and Disney Wonder. Each ship is designed with the signature Disney touch, creating a magical and immersive atmosphere for guests of all ages. On the other hand, Royal Caribbean boasts a larger and more diverse fleet of 27 ships, offering a vast range of amenities, experiences, and styles to cater to different tastes and preferences.

Pricing

Disney Cruise Line is often regarded as a more premium experience than Royal Caribbean, resulting in higher Disney Cruise costs per person. For example, we compared prices for two nearly identical cruises: an interior stateroom on a 3-night Bahamian cruise sailing from Port Canaveral on July 7, 2023, with stops at Nassau and the cruise line’s private island, Disney’s Castaway Cay. Aboard the brand new Disney Wish, the cost per person per night was around $480, while on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, the cost was about $395 per person per night.

It’s important to consider the inclusions in the price of each cruise line when comparing costs, as they add value to your vacation experience. Disney Cruise fares include a wide array of dining options, entertainment, and activities for all age groups. On the other hand, Royal Caribbean’s pricing also encompasses various amenities, including onboard activities, entertainment, and dining choices, which contribute to the overall value of their cruise offerings.

To secure the best pricing for Disney Cruises or Royal Caribbean cruises, consider using an experienced and highly-rated travel agency like The Vacationeer. They can answer questions, provide advice, help find the perfect itinerary, and ensure you get the best pricing available for either cruise line. As a Diamond-Level Disney Authorized Vacation Planner, they can offer top-notch service and competitive prices, including up to $1000 in Disney cruise onboard credit. Contact them today for more information – their expert services are free of charge!

Itineraries

Both Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean offer short and long-term trips, with cruise durations ranging from three to eleven days and occasional extended itineraries exceeding eleven days. Each cruise line provides a unique selection of routes and stops, so it’s essential to consider your desired destinations when choosing the right option for your vacation.

Moreover, this will determine the necessary travel documentation, such as whether you need a passport for a Disney Cruise or a Royal Caribbean cruise. Being aware of the destinations for your chosen cruise is vital to have all the required documents, including passports, visas, and vaccination certificates, depending on the locations visited. Work with The Vacationeer to ensure a seamless process from start to finish.

Destinations

Disney Cruise Line primarily focuses on popular and family-friendly destinations, including the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe. In recent years, Disney has expanded its offerings to encompass more exotic locations such as Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, Disney Cruise Line guests have access to exclusive destinations like Disney’s Lighthouse Point and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, where they can immerse themselves in a tropical paradise infused with Disney magic.

In contrast, Royal Caribbean offers a more extensive range of destinations, catering to various interests and preferences. Their itineraries cover not only the popular cruise spots but also more remote and exotic locales, such as Asia, the South Pacific, the Middle East, and South America. This diverse selection of destinations provides seasoned and adventurous cruisers with a wide array of unique experiences and opportunities to explore different cultures around the world.

Activities

Disney Cruise Line is renowned for its family-oriented activities and immersive Disney-themed experiences. Onboard, guests can enjoy character meet-and-greets, Broadway-style shows, themed deck parties, and various interactive experiences, such as themed trivia, scavenger hunts, and animation workshops. Disney Cruise Line also offers a wide range of age-appropriate activities for children, including kids’ clubs, teen lounges, and designated spaces for adults to relax and unwind. 

Train to save the world at Marvel Super Hero Academy

Train to save the world at Marvel Super Hero Academy

The activities are designed to appeal to the Disney enthusiast, creating a magical and enchanting atmosphere that leaves a lasting impression on guests of all ages.

Alternatively, Royal Caribbean is known for its extensive array of activities that cater to both thrill-seekers and those looking for more leisurely pursuits. Their ships boast state-of-the-art features, such as surf simulators, zip lines, rock-climbing walls, and ice-skating rinks, providing an adrenaline rush for the adventurous. Additionally, Royal Caribbean offers more traditional cruise activities, including poolside relaxation, spa treatments, and fitness classes. 

Guests can also enjoy various entertainment options, such as live music, Broadway-style shows, and comedy performances. With a broad selection of activities, Royal Caribbean appeals to a wider range of interests and preferences, ensuring there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Dining

Dining on both Disney and Royal Caribbean cruises is designed to cater to a variety of tastes and preferences, with options ranging from casual bites to upscale, fine dining establishments. Disney Cruise Line features a distinctive rotational dining system that lets guests enjoy multiple themed dining experiences during their voyage, including character meals that captivate younger travelers. 

Some of Disney Cruise Line’s notable restaurants include Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden, and adult-exclusive options such as Palo and Remy, which offer sophisticated dining experiences. In addition, Disney is known for its excellent food quality and presentation, ensuring that every meal is a memorable one.

On the other hand, Royal Caribbean offers an even more extensive selection of culinary choices, with an impressive array of onboard dining venues, including partnerships with celebrity chefs and specialty restaurants that serve a wide range of international cuisines. From sushi to Italian, guests can indulge in diverse culinary experiences throughout their journey. 

Royal Caribbean also provides flexible dining options, such as My Time Dining, which allows guests to choose their preferred dining time and seating arrangements, making it a convenient choice for travelers seeking variety and flexibility in their dining experience.

Best for Kids: Disney Cruise vs. Royal Caribbean Cruise

Disney Cruise Line is the undisputed leader when it comes to catering to children, offering age-specific kids’ clubs, character interactions, and entertainment that focuses on creating a magical experience for younger guests. Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab provide a vast range of activities and themed play areas featuring favorite characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars, ensuring children of all ages are engaged and entertained. Additionally, Disney Cruise Line offers kids-only events, such as themed dance parties, scavenger hunts, and interactive shows that immerse them in the world of Disney. 

While Royal Caribbean also offers kids’ clubs, family-friendly activities, and dedicated spaces for teenagers, such as the Adventure Ocean program and teen lounges, the cruise line’s offerings cater to a broader age range, and the focus is not solely on younger children. Disney’s emphasis on enchanting experiences and the familiarity of beloved characters make it the top choice for families with younger children who want to be fully immersed in the magic of Disney throughout their cruise experience. There is no doubt that Disney Cruise Line is the best cruise line for kids!

Best for Adults: Disney Cruise vs. Royal Caribbean Cruise

For adults seeking a diverse array of onboard experiences, dining options, adventurous activities, and a more extensive range of nightlife and entertainment choices, Royal Caribbean may be the more appealing option. The cruise line’s ships feature numerous bars, lounges, and clubs, providing a wide variety of atmospheres and experiences to suit different tastes. In addition, Royal Caribbean offers an impressive array of entertainment options, such as Broadway-style shows, live music, comedy clubs, and even outdoor movie nights under the stars.

While Disney Cruise Line also offers adult-only areas, lounges, and entertainment, including upscale dining options and exclusive adult-only sections on their ships, Royal Caribbean provides a broader variety of options that cater to a wider range of preferences and interests. Furthermore, Royal Caribbean’s itineraries include more exotic and remote destinations, such as Asia, the Middle East, and South America, which may be more appealing to adults seeking unique and culturally enriching travel experiences. This makes Royal Caribbean the best choice for adults who want to combine the excitement of a cruise vacation with the opportunity to explore new and diverse locations.

Best For Families: Disney Cruise vs. Royal Caribbean Cruise

Selecting the ideal cruise for your family vacation involves careful consideration of various factors, including your budget, desired destination, preferred activity level, and the interests of each family member. For instance, if you’re seeking a kid-friendly experience infused with that extra touch of Disney magic, a Disney Cruise is likely your best bet. Many people consider Disney Cruise Line the top choice for families with children, thanks to its captivating character interactions, enchanting entertainment, and age-specific kids’ clubs.

Conversely, if your family is in search of a more adventurous and diverse experience with a broader range of destinations, including exotic and remote locations, a Royal Caribbean cruise might be the better option. Royal Caribbean’s extensive array of onboard activities, such as rock climbing, zip-lining, and surfing simulators, appeals to thrill-seekers and active families. Additionally, their wide variety of dining options and partnerships with celebrity chefs cater to diverse culinary preferences, ensuring that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

When choosing between Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean for your family vacation, take the time to assess the specific interests and preferences of each family member, as well as your overall vacation goals. You may want to involve your family in the decision-making process to ensure everyone’s needs and desires are taken into account. By carefully evaluating these factors and considering the unique offerings of each cruise line, you can confidently choose the perfect cruise experience that will delight your entire family and create cherished memories to last a lifetime.

Best Overall: Disney Cruise vs. Royal Caribbean Cruise

Deciding between Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean ultimately hinges on your priorities, preferences, and expectations for your vacation. Both cruise lines provide exceptional experiences for cruisers of all ages but with distinct differences in fleet size, pricing, itineraries, destinations, activities, and dining options.

If your heart is set on a family-centric experience, complete with the enchanting ambiance of Disney-themed entertainment and a strong focus on creating lasting memories, Disney Cruise Line is likely the better option. Renowned for its magical atmosphere, captivating entertainment, exclusive destinations, and family-friendly focus, Disney Cruise Line is perfect for families with younger children or die-hard Disney fans.

On the other hand, if you’re in search of a more diverse range of activities, dining options, and destinations, with choices that cater to both families and adults, Royal Caribbean may prove to be the more suitable choice. As a luxury cruise line, Royal Caribbean offers a more standard type of cruise experience while still providing a wealth of upscale amenities and activities. With a broader selection of destinations, including exotic and remote locations, Royal Caribbean can be an excellent option for well-traveled families or those looking for a more adventurous and varied cruise experience.

Final Thoughts

To choose between these two cruise lines, take into account your budget, the destinations you want to explore, the type of activities you prefer, and the overall atmosphere you desire during your vacation. Additionally, consider the age range and interests of your travel companions. It’s essential to research the itineraries, onboard activities, and accommodations offered by each cruise line, as well as read reviews from fellow travelers. It’s always wise to consult with a travel agent specializing in cruises to gather further insights and recommendations. By carefully weighing these factors, you can confidently select the cruise line that best matches your needs and preferences. This will ensure an unforgettable and enjoyable cruise adventure for everyone involved!

Why Wait? Book your Next Cruise Today!

Both cruise lines are great, but when it comes to the Disney Cruise vs Royal Caribbean Cruise debate, we lean slightly towards Disney Cruise Line due to the fantastic level of service and amenities. If you’re ready to book your Disney cruise, contact the Disney experts at The Vacationeer! Their planning services are provided at no additional cost to you, and there’s never any obligation to book. Plus, they offer up to $1000 in onboard credit as a booking bonus to be spent on extras not included in the cruise fare.

Should you be interested in exploring Royal Caribbean options, The Vacationeer would be more than happy to help you compare pricing and find the best itineraries at the lowest price. Whatever your choice may be, contact them now for a free instant price quote and start planning your dream cruise vacation today. With their assistance, you’ll be able to navigate the Disney Cruise vs Royal Caribbean Cruise decision and find the perfect match for your unforgettable getaway. They can even help you compare Disney Cruises against other cruise lines such as Norwegian, Princess, and Carnival.