There’s no denying that a cruise is a significant expense — a Disney Cruise even more so, given that Disney Cruise Line prices tend to be higher than those of other cruise lines. But is the price justifiable? Is a Disney Cruise worth it? We think so.
Consider What’s Included in the Cost of Your Disney Cruise
It’s easy to get sticker shock when you see a several-thousand-dollar price tag for your first Disney Cruise vacation. But it’s helpful to remember what goes into determining that price. There are 5 Disney ships including Disney Magic, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Wish, and Disney Wonder. Now let’s take a look at what Disney cruise lines include.
Your Disney Cruise fare includes:
- Accommodations (stateroom/cabin suite) onboard the ship
- All-you-can-eat meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (plus unlimited snacks)
- Live entertainment (Broadway-style shows or other performances) each night
- Unlimited movie theater usage
- Pools, waterslides, and activities
- Fitness Centers
- Youth Activity Clubs
- Transportation to a different port each day (the ship starts each day in a different port)
Let’s say you wanted to take a 7-night cruise vacation. In the middle-tier travel season, that might run you around $3,400 for an oceanview stateroom with two passengers.
Now let’s price out a similar trip on land:
- Hotel accommodations: $150 to $ 200 per night x 7 nights = $1,050 to $1,400
- Dining: $50 to $100 per person per day x 7 days x 2 people = $700 to $1400 (and likely not all-you-can-eat)
- Entertainment and activities: $50 per person per day x 7 days x 2 people = $700 (more if you want to include Broadway-style live performances each day)
Those three things alone are roughly equivalent to the cost of the cruise — and you’d still need to pay for transportation between port cities (unless, of course, your hotel room can magically teleport you from St. Maarten to Nassau while you sleep)!
A cruise offers a much more convenient and streamlined all-inclusive price structure than a land vacation. Some Disney cruises stop at Disney’s private island called Castaway Cay.
Now let’s look at some of these categories in depth.
Disney Cruise Line Accommodations
Onboard the Disney ship, you’ll be staying in something called a Stateroom — perhaps you’ve heard people call this a “cabin,” though the cruise industry generally frowns upon that term as being a bit too utilitarian. Disney Cruise staterooms are generally larger than those onboard most other cruise lines, and the rooms are thoughtfully designed to make the most out of what can still, at times, be a cozy experience. You’ll find plenty of storage, usually a queen bed, a sleeper sofa, a private bathroom, and all the comforts of home on the high seas.
If you opt for an oceanview stateroom, you’ll enjoy a view from a porthole window; a verandah stateroom gets you your own private balcony.
The ship typically moves to a different port each day. There’s nothing quite like waking up, opening the drapes, and seeing what new city (or country!) awaits just outside your window.
All-You-Can-Eat Meals on Disney Cruise Ships
Cruises are for eating. Period.
Oh, you want details.
Let’s put it another way; if you go hungry on a cruise ship, there’s no one to blame but yourself. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all-you-can-eat meals. You can either belly up to the buffet or enjoy table-service dining rooms (still with unlimited portions). Can’t decide between steak and chicken for dinner? Ask for both! I’m not sure that I have ever ordered just one dessert at dinner on a cruise.
And flexible dining onboard a cruise is a great, safe way to try something that’s maybe just a little scary. So if you’ve never had escargot, try it on the ship! It won’t cost you anything extra, and if you don’t like it, they’ll happily give you another item in its place.
Disney cruises pioneered the concept of rotational dining, in which you’re scheduled for a different restaurant at dinner each night. Still, your service team travels along with you. So it won’t take long before they know that you like your steak medium-rare and to keep the pomegranate vitamin water coming! It’s like seeing friends every night.
Surprisingly, even room service is included at no additional charge (just be sure to tip!). The only thing you’ll pay extra for is specialty drinks (alcoholic beverages, fancy coffees, smoothies) and adult only restaurants and premium dining experiences.
Disney Cruise Ship Entertainment Options
Thanks to the live entertainment onboard, your Disney cruise stateroom might as well be a hotel room on Broadway. Each night, you’ll experience either a live Broadway-style musical performance of a Disney-themed show (such as Aladdin, the Little Mermaid, or Beauty & the Beast) — or some other live performance (such as a family-friendly comedian, magician, etc.).
Each show is performed twice nightly, though your dinner will likely fall during the time of one of the performances. Matinees are also occasionally offered in rare instances.
Beyond the big shows, expect live music in spots throughout the ship, giant deck parties (maybe even with fireworks!), and unlimited viewings of Marvel/Pixar/Disney movies in free cinemas onboard.
Disney Cruises Youth Activities and Kids Clubs
For kids, supervised activity clubs are tremendously popular. Kids can check themselves in and out of the kids club — on the Disney Wish, they literally slide in from one deck up — and the hours are generous enough that parents can enjoy some alone time in the nightclub district while the young kids play. Tweens and teens also have dedicated spots just for them — and everything’s included in the cost of the cruise.
Conclusion: Is a Disney Cruise Worth It?
In our view, taking a Disney Cruise is worth the expense and not only for Disney fans. When you factor in everything included — plus the high level of service provided — you’d be hard-pressed to find the same Disney cruise experience for the same price anywhere else! And booking a family vacation with a travel agent (see below) can help you stretch your dollar even further.