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Is a Disney Cruise worth it? Such an important question when considering any type of Disney vacation, since they aren’t exactly known for being budget travel. But this question is two-fold since cruising isn’t for everyone, so we are sharing what we think, based on our experience with Disney Cruiseline to help you decide if a Disney Cruise is for you.
The quick answer is absolutely yes, a Disney cruise is worth the cost. Read on to find out exactly why we think so.
Is A Disney Cruise Worth It?
You might be thinking that a Disney Cruise is just like any other cruise – just with the Disney branding on it so they can charge more.
But it couldn’t be further from the reality!
What you get is Disney magic at sea! From world-class dining experiences to Broadway quality theatre productions, brand new Disney movie theatre release films and fireworks at sea.
Character meet and greets with your favourite Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars characters. Deck parties and activities galore.
You’re also getting some of the best service you can imagine so that every single moment during your cruise, you feel like you are the most important person in the world.
However, a Disney vacation is always a big investment and you’ve also got to weigh up a visit to Disney World or Disneyland or a Disney Cruise, so let’s get more specific about whether a Disney cruise is worth it for your family.
What’s Included In A Disney Cruise?
One of the best reasons to choose a cruise vacation is because so much is included. This goes for practically any cruise line.
Typically you get your meals, accommodation and entertainment included in the price and that can make for a more affordable vacation... sometimes!
Here are the things included on your Disney cruise, no matter which cruise you choose:
Disney Cruise Accommodation
Disney cruise line staterooms are known for being a little larger than many cruise ship staterooms. This is great when you’re cruising with kids especially!
They have a variety of different stateroom options to choose from, at different price points.
Inside rooms with no window
Oceanview rooms with one or two portholes
Verandah rooms with your own private verandah
Concierge rooms which are large, spacious and luxurious if you want to splurge
Concierge rooms come in different sizes, with 1 or two bedrooms and suite rooms. Booking concierge also gives you other priority guest benefits such as early embankment and disembarkment.
One of the best things is that each of the Disney cruise cabins has a separate toilet and shower, with split bathrooms so you can still use one while someone is in the other. No busting for the loo when someone is in the shower!
There is no denying that the food on Disney ships is next-level! One of the stand-out features of Disney cruise dining is its rotational dining experience.
Each night you dine at one of the 3 main dining rooms on board, each offering a different menu and dining experience, themed around favourite films and characters.
Best of all, the same waitstaff also follows you to these restaurants each night and they make it their mission to get to know what you like so they can give you the best possible service.
There is no limit to what you can order.
Want 2 desserts? You can order 2 desserts. Do kids want to order off the adults’ menu? Go for it! Want your favourite dish from a different restaurant menu? That can be done too!
These meals are all included in your cruise, along with the poolside eats, all you can eat ice cream, a buffet restaurant and room service. It also includes all soft drinks, juice and water.
The only exclusion is if you dine at the premium adults-only restaurant each ship has on board or certain cafe food from the coffee shops and bars. And of course, your speciality & boozy beverages!
There are so many dining options and quick eats – you definitely won’t go hungry!
Epic Disney Cruise Entertainment
Marvel Unite show on Disney Wonder
If you love going to the theatre, you know how expensive it can be, but how incredibly worth it to see world-class performances on stage.
On a Disney cruise line, you get to see Broadway-quality performances on stage, and it’s included in the cost of your cruise!
And don’t think because this stage is in the middle of the ocean that they won’t be the same quality because they are downright incredible with special effects, beautiful stage props and backdrops and extremely talented performers who sing and dance the night away.
But the entertainment doesn’t end there.
Depending on the length of your cruise and the particular cruise ship, there are deck parties with all your favourite characters, fireworks at sea, pirate parties and you may even be lucky enough to see the Marvel Heroes Unite deck show, with stunts, fireworks and ziplines.
Activities For All Ages
There is always something fun to do on a Disney cruise. How you spend your time really depends on what you enjoy doing and who you’re cruising with.
At the most simple level, there are the pools. There are multiple pools on each Disney cruise ship to suit different ages and there’s also at least one waterslide on each ship too.
Unlike most other cruise line pools, the pools on Disney cruise ships are freshwater. They are also heated to a comfortable temperature. It’s just that extra little touch that makes the difference.
If you’re not in the mood for a swim, there is daily programming onboard to make sure everyone of every age has something to enjoy.
There are trivia sessions, live music, bingo, dance parties, gameshow sessions, learn to draw, craft sessions, video games, pirate night, poolside Disney movies on the deck screen, drink tasting and mixology sessions and much more.
There’s even a full-sized cinema screening new release films – the day they are released in the cinemas!
And this doesn’t even include all the fun of the kids clubs!
Disney Cruise Kids Club
Oceaneer Club – Andy’s Room playground on Disney Wonder
The kids’ clubs are included in the cost of your cruise and they have different activities running throughout the day.
There are kids clubs suited to different age groups, from the 3-12 age group to the 11 to 14 tweens and a hangout zone for the teens too.
In these areas, you will find age-appropriate fun, such as an indoor playground and craft activities for younger kids, to gaming consoles and board games for older kids and teens.
And the kid’s clubs run until really late so mum and dad can enjoy a few of the adult activities on board, knowing the kids are having a great time!
Service To Make You Feel Like A Disney Princess (Or Prince)
There’s no doubt that the service on a Disney cruise is one of the standouts that makes you glad you chose Disney to cruise with.
Let’s put it this way, on our recent Disney Wonder cruise, there were around 2400 passengers and over 1000 cast members on board. That’s practically 1 crew member for every 2-3 guests.
It’s a crazy level of attentiveness and you do notice that difference!
When it really comes down to it, it’s impossible to fault the Disney hospitality!
Your room is serviced twice daily with a cleaning service earlier in the day and then a turndown service at night.
If you are staying in a room with 3 or more people, they will convert the bunk beds back into a couch for comfort during the day and then set up the beds again ready for the evening.
And there’s always the cute towel animals and chocolates on your bed to look forward to each night.
But if you need anything else, your room host is rarely far away to ask.
Disney’s Private Island
If you are cruising in the Bahamas or Caribbean, you will almost always get the chance to visit Castaway Cay, Disney’s own private island.
Spend the day enjoying the island facilities with lunch, drinks, and ice cream.
There are beach chairs, entertainment, kids and teen clubs, hiking trails, beach activities, yoga, a waterslide and a tram to get you around.
Even with all-inclusive vacation packages, there are almost always a few things that aren’t included in the price. Here is what isn’t included in the price of a Disney cruise:
Alcoholic beverages and speciality drinks*
Some cafe and bar speciality desserts and snacks
Popcorn & popcorn buckets
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Salon & spa treatments
Royal Court Royal Tea experience
Shopping and souvenirs
Adults-only premium restaurant (one on each of the Disney ships – Palo, Remy or Enchante)
It’s A Small World Nursery sessions for kids under 3
Shutters Photography packages
Gratuities (you can pre-pay these)
None of these things are essential to your cruising experience though!
Note: One thing that does set Disney cruises apart from other cruises is that you can BYO your own beer or wine. Up to 6 beers or 2 bottles of wine per person. And you don’t have to drink these just in your stateroom either.
What Is Not Worth It On A Disney Cruise?
This is a bit of a loaded question. What is worth it for one person may not be worth it for another person so it isn’t really something one person can answer for you.
What we will say is that alcohol is expensive, so take advantage of the BYO option to save money.
While the souvenirs on board are very nice and many are also exclusive, they are also very expensive so if you aren’t worried about exclusivity, you will find cheaper Disney merchandise off the ship.
The specialty character experiences are very expensive but for most people, if this is in your budget, they do sound like they are lovely experiences such as the full pamper treatment of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or Royal Court Tea, dining with the Disney princesses.
These are indeed splurge experiences but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth the cost for many cruisers.
The photo package is one to think about though. There is an unlimited photograph package available on board.
If you are doing a short cruise of 2-3 nights, this might not be worth it as there are not as many opportunities for photos with characters. For longer cruises, it gives you more time to line up.
We don’t enjoy lining up and do not do a lot of it. Sure, character photos are lovely, but when you’ve only got a few days to experience the cruise, we’d rather not do this in a line.
Instead of the unlimited photography package, you can also get a 10-photo package, which may be better suited to shorter cruises. We got this and it was the right amount. You can also purchase individual prints.
Credit: Shutters Photography
Photography Package: One tip is to pre-book the photography packages before you cruise at a discounted rate and cancel on your last night if you don’t get enough images to make the package worthwhile. This is such a great option!
Disney Cruises Compared To Other Cruise Lines
There are some pretty epic options for cruising these days and Disney Cruise Line isn’t the only big competitor. While these aren’t the only options, other popular cruise line companies include Royal Caribbean, Carnival and P&O.
Each of these different cruise line companies offers a great onboard experience and different destinations and inclusions.
One of the notable differences between Disney Cruise Line Vs other cruise lines is the number of ships in the fleet. Disney has a much smaller fleet which means fewer cruising destinations.
However, if you’re looking for the best cruise for families, there’s no denying that Disney does this well. With family entertainment, first-run Disney Studios movies, larger staterooms and character encounters, this is appealing for many to have that magic of Disney while sailing.
But you’re still going to get family fun on other cruise liners too, such as waterslides, kids clubs and Broadway-style shows. Royal Caribbean is also known for its onboard entertainment.
Fares can different drastically so make sure you do check what is included in each and which of those inclusions is important to your cruising experience.
These might include free unlimited kids clubs and soft drinks, such as on Disney cruises. Or specific destinations that aren’t covered by Disney.
You’ll likely get a better ‘deal’ when choosing a different cruise line, but can you really put a price on the Disney experience? Let’s try!
The True Value Of A Disney Cruise – Is It Really Overpriced?
Yes, Disney Cruise Lines have a premium price and while you can get deals and lower prices when cruising during the off-peak season, the price difference is still notable. This is also usually the biggest reason people choose not to book Disney cruises.
So let’s break it down a little to see what the value is really like.
Say you’re a family of 4 (like us) and you are considering the cost of a 3-night Disney cruise.
Our Disney Wonder Australia cruise is a great example. Included in that cruise were 3 Disney musical productions, 2 pool deck parties, 1 Marvel Superheroes Unite stunt show and two lots of fireworks. There was also unlimited food and soft drink, with 3 fine dining restaurants included.
There was also trivia and group activities for all ages, kids club that run until midnight at no extra cost, a gym, swimming pools and character meet and greets.
If you were to book 4 tickets to 4 different Disney productions, that alone would cost around $1600.
What about a 3-course meal for 4 people? Did we mention you can order as much as you like? That includes 2 desserts if you want. We had 2 desserts each! Again, that’s quite an expense if you simply went to 3 fine-dining restaurants with your family.
Again, that’s at least another $800… or more.
Unlimited gym use doesn’t come free but you get that on the cruise, along with swimming pools and water slides.
What about a vacation program for your kids or babysitting while you and your partner enjoy some adult time? Babysitting is expensive. But the kids clubs are all included on a Disney cruise.
Fireworks at sea! How do you price an experience like that since Disney cruise lines are the only cruise ships to offer this?
Dance parties with Mickey Mouse and friends. A chance to talk to your favourite Disney princess or get a hug from Spider-Man. Those experiences are pretty unique too.
So when you break it down like that, is a Disney cruise really that expensive? Not so much!
We aren’t saying that it isn’t a heck of an expense because it isn’t a cheap vacation, but that’s some significant value you’re getting.
Is A Disney Cruise Worth The Money? Our Opinion
The short answer is heck YES, a Disney cruise is worth the extra money! We loved our Disney Cruise experience and will absolutely be cruising with Disney again.
Before our first Disney cruise, Simon wasn’t really a fan of cruises. He always said he never wanted to be stuck on a cruise ship and the thought of it sounded like torture. Now, he’s the one telling everyone that it was an incredible experience and they should totally consider it. He’s not even a huge Disney fan.
Should you choose a Disney cruise over a Disney Park vacation? Perhaps not. This is a very different type of trip and a little more laidback in comparison.
All 4 of us had the best time, from incredible theatre productions and stunning firework displays, trying our hand at winning trivia and failing miserably, and the kids making so many new friends at kids club. We got hugged by Goofy and hung out with the Avengers. These are memories we will never forget so yes, a Disney cruise is worth the price.