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How does a Royal Caribbean cruise compare to a Disney c?ruise


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Excellent question and not provocative or worthy of starting a fight at all.  

Here is a blog post from @Matt who runs this site.  He lives in the Orlando area and has children.  He doesn't work for any cruise line.


Here is a more recent podcast he did on this exact topic:


I've cruised Disney years ago when my kids were younger.  Sadly Disney prices have skyrocketed.  Royal is very family oriented and has a lot to offer kids of all ages.  There is no question that DCL provides a great cruise experience and if you have lots of money it will provide a great experience.  

At what point though is a fabulous cruise on a family oriented cruise line at a much lower price simply better value?  

Calling @Lovetocruise2002 who has sailed DCL more recently than me. 

Lastly here is another blog reader's perspective:


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I am new to cruising and I do have an upcoming Disney cruise booked. I will be honest, I am hoping to be a Disney travel agent ( just for fun) when I retire and a few agency have a requirement that you have been on a Didney Cruise. A few obvious observations:  My RCL 7 night cruise was less than a 4 night Disney cruise. This is true even when I add three deluxe drink packages, a cabana on CocoCay, and a brewery tour in Nassau. Of course, if I wanted to book a cabana on a Disney cruise it would cost me three times as much as RCL. This is not a cost I have to worry about since everyone does not have equal access to booking (like RCL) and I will never be able to book a Disney cabana. 

As a “Disney freak” I am sure I will love my Disney cruise. I honestly cannot wait for it to be complete so I can book my next RCL Cruise.

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8 minutes ago, stlpam said:

No kids traveling with us.  We are senior citizens.  I am a Disney fan since the original Mickey Mouse Club was on TV.  We are new to cruising.

Ok then...here goes...

I have done DCL 3 times now over the last 5 years.  All sailings on the Dream and Fantasy.  Every single one of those sailings were almost double (if not more) the price of the same type of stateroom on Royal Caribbean.  We love RCI.  We cruised Disney because of our kids.  They were 4 and 6 when we took our first DCL cruise, and then 7/9 when we took the second.  The last cruise on the Fantasy (in December 2017) they were 9/11 (they were bored on this one).  Every sailing on DCL, I compared to Royal.  The only things that DCL did better was variety in Kid's programming, and the shows (more suitable for young kids). 

As an adult sailing on Disney, we still had a good time but I did not find that there was good value in it.  Their customer service is excellent.  But then again, so is Royal.  The food is very similar, but you will find more variety (of places to eat) on RC ships (depending on which one you are looking at).  I feel like DCL cruisers fall into 2 categories:  the ones with young children and and die hard Disney fans.  We are neither these days so we will continue to sail Royal, as our money goes a bit further there.  Feel free to ask away.  I will try to answer whatever I can.

Also, do you want to be around children when travelling?  Because there are children everywhere on DCL.

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I don't know who is fooling the big Dis fans there is a huge price difference between the 2 lines my kids are older now 17 and 18 I wanted to take them for years on a dis cruise but found I could take 2 cruises on ROYAL for the same money plus I am NOT a child hater I have 4 but with many cruises under my belt cruise ship and 86 foot island hopper with passengers plus children of all ages from 8 to 80 it scares me to be out on a ship with what I am sure is a huge percentage of unsupervised children roaming everywhere looking for something to do we all have our own preference which type  of experience we seek and I think none is better then the other one its what suits you the most important thing is we all cruise oh please spare me that the children are well behaved and supervised mine certainly had there moments kids are kids and so did I many years ago

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If you post the same question on the Disboards forum you will probably get materially different answers.  We have sailed 5 DCL and one RCCL cruise.  We have another Disney and another Royal cruise booked for next year.  Our experience might be totally opposite of others, but I'll share none-the-less.

Our trips:

DCL Wonder (Two adults and two kids both under 12)

DCL Fantasy - twice (Two adults and one >12, one under 12)  (Second Fantasy both kids were over 12)

DCL Wonder - twice (Two Adults)

RCCL Anthem (2 Adults and one 14 year old) (this was this summer)

As our kids reached their early / mid-teen years that was our last DCL cruise with them - even though Disney does have the teen clubs, neither of our boys really cared from them.    When they were younger the <12 clubs were great.  The water roller coaster on the ship was great, but compared to a ship like the Anthem, Royal wins in this case.. 

We thought the service was pretty equal - but DCL was slighter better in some areas and RCCL was slighter better in some.  We didn't try any of the specialty restaurants on Royal, but we love Palo on Disney.  Main dining room food on both was good, but we are not foodies and pretty easy to please.

We really like the smaller DCL Ships (i.e. the Wonder).  My wife and I think the late night Adult entertainment is very good on Disney, better than Anthem.  Although in fairness, I have read that Anthem is a pretty poor representation of the overall Royal experience for this item.

I'm always amazed about the kid comments on Disney - it might just be because we are cruising at standard school vacation times, but both ships have lots of kids.  We found that is was actually easier to get chairs and space in the adults-only area on Disney then it was on Royal.  This might be because everyone on Disney has kids so the few "kid-less" cruises have space.  I thought the shows were better on Disney, but again this is subjective.  For instance, CATS was a long-running Broadway hit that many people love, my wife and I left that show at intermission.  So just be warned that opens about show quality is subjective.  Although we did think the singing voices were better quality on Disney regardless of the tune.

We liked Castaway Cay better then Royal's island in Haiti.

Our teen son loved the Anthem - tons of stuff on ship to do.  So we are doing the Symphony next summer for him and my wife and I are back on the Wonder for Thanksgiving 2019.

Cost is a very real and very valid consideration.  We are willing to pay for the Disney experience when it is just the two of us, but it is a materially better value and better teenager experience on Royal.



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@Illini_Fan is absolutely correct in that depending where you post this, you will get a variety of answers, especially among the Disney fans. I truly think that what it comes down to is that you have to know what type of cruiser you are, what is important to you, and what is of value to you. Those who love DCL are obviously not going to mind spending the extra money on it. Similarly, those who enjoy cruising suites will not see that as a waste whereas others will. Again, it comes down personal preference.

And @Illini_Fan, I have to add, Anthem is a bit different than some of the other Royal ships.  I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with that ship as well. However, I do think that with the newest additions to Mariner, Independence, and soon Navigator of the Seas, DCL has some serious competition. We were parked right next to the Dream in Nassau two weeks ago while on Mariner and my kids even commented that the Aqua Duck looked "not as cool" as the water slides on board Mariner. And if I had to guess, I think that if your kids liked Anthem, they will love Symphony! Oh and welcome to the message boards.

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A valid point has been made and something to consider when looking at Royal versus DCL.  Royal has been at this a long time but that also means the Royal fleet has greater variance including older and smaller ships versus mega sized, newer and high tech ships.  

You need to put a little more effort into researching each Royal ship to make sure you understand the ship you may book.  Not all Royal ships have Broadway caliber entertainment.  Not all Royal ships have water slides, ice skating, flowriders  or zip lines.  The newer Royal ships have the latest bells and whistles while the older ships which have been kept fresh and modernized don't have all that fancy new stuff.  

For a couple in their 60s a flowrider, ice skating, water slides or a zip line may not be a big deal or maybe it is.  Royal's smallest ship is almost 5 times smaller than their biggest ship.  Disney more or less has two sizes of ship versus Royal's seven classes of ships.  

Just make sure you spend a little bit of time researching the ship.

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In short, I feel the DCL and RC cruise experiences are very similar. Each line does some aspects of the cruise better, but the price gap between DCL and RC is so absurdly large that it is hard to justify spending double or triple the cost of RC for essentially the Disney brand.

My advice is visit the Disney theme parks for that Disney fix, and cruise with RC.

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In my experience, preferred the Disney cruise experience a tiny bit but paid a whole lot more for it.

Royals ships (newer bigger ones in particular) certainly offer a lot more activities/options, I consistently felt the "quality" and service for me were slightly better with Disney though not enough to justify the extra cost.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Disney has great kids programs, but for adults there is not much to do. My wife and I aren’t hard to entertain and we became bored very quickly. Our daughter (who is a die hard Disney fan) went with us  and said that she kept forgetting it was a Disney Cruise because it didn’t have the same magic that you felt when you walked into a Disney Park. No casino on Disney was a huge negative for us also.

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First off, I am a big fan of Disney as is my family of six. We have sailed DCL twice (Wonder '15, Magic '17) and have a seven night Western Mediterranean cruise booked on the Magic for next June. Honestly, this will probably be our last DCL cruise for a while because the cost was even more exorbitant than usual for two staterooms (oceanview verandah, interior staterooms on Deck Five). If we decide to return to Europe for a Greece/Eastern Europe itinerary, I'm going to try to convince them to try Royal Caribbean ? 

As a solo adult cruiser, I do miss the amenities offered by Royal Caribbean (e.g. rock climbing, zip line, laser tag), water- and ice-based entertainment, speciality restaurants, adult programming, superior Internet, and studio staterooms. And, having more ships in their fleet, Royal can offer more itineraries world-wide!

Although DCL is a premium cruise line, I still honestly think that the cruise-inclusive food and customer service are about the same. DCL's only advantage is that their website is very user-friendly; the less I have to say about royalcaribbean.com the better LOL.

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