Cruises are a fantastic vacation option when it comes to seeing multiple destinations but are all ocean cruise lines created equal? I have always been a big fan of Royal Caribbean as have my kids but this past November I had the opportunity to train with my agency aboard the new Disney Wish. After this training, We took our 21 year old son and 17 year old daughter aboard the Disney Dream. With their feedback and my own experiences, I want to compare these two family friendly options.
Disney Cruise line
Disney Cruise line has always come with a higher price tag. What I learned is there is a very good reason for that. Disney Cruise line includes more overall. For example, Disney Cruise line does not have a separate drink package. Sodas and all drinks (except alcoholic) are included. I will touch on some other price differences in the categories below. It’s also important to note that Disney Cruise line has higher deposits but they are fully refundable up to final payment.
Activities for Kids
When anyone thinks Disney they assume it is very kid friendly and you would be correct. Disney Cruise line offers fantastic kids clubs with amazing Disney theming such as Toy Story, Star Wars and more.
Activities for Teens
Did you know that they also offer some amazing teen clubs. My 17 year thought she was too cool to go in the teen club until I convinced her that I needed photos and she agreed to go take them for me. Hours later, she came back raving about how fun it was. The cast members were so welcoming and made her a smoothie as soon as she got there. There was a teen pool, games, video games and more to help them make new friends and stay busy.
Activities for Adults
Disney cruise for adults…absolutely! There were multiple bars, an adult only pool area, Adult only entertainment such as karaoke, bingo and silent dance parties. My 21 year old enjoyed the options but felt there was not enough to keep him busy for days.
- Enchanting Entertainment: Delight in Broadway-caliber musicals, see your favorite Disney characters in new and exciting ways and enjoy a new fireworks show at sea (fireworks on most cruises).
- Spacious Staterooms: Designed for Families: extra space and storage, sitting area, and split bath to allow more people to get ready at the same time.
- Disney’s Private Island: Relax in paradise with beach chairs, umbrellas, waterslides and a barbecue lunch (on most Bahamian and Caribbean cruises).
- Variety of Dining Options: Enjoy upscale restaurants, casual dining, poolside snacks and 24-hour room service.
- Imaginative Youth Clubs: Play in themed clubs for every age, staffed by specially trained Disney counselors.
- Nightclubs & Lounges: Discover adults-only areas that include a variety of bars and pubs.
- Pools & Recreation: Splash it up in freshwater pools and waterslides at sea.
Disney Cruise staterooms are more spacious and having a split bathroom is a game changer for families in one stateroom.
The kids pools on the ships were small. I felt like there were a lot of kids in a small area and there was little to no room to actually swim around. Think Cheerios in a bowl of milk. The kids didn’t seem to mind though.
The Broadway style Disney shows each evening were one of my favorite parts of a Disney Cruise. They were excellent and very entertaining. They even have a concession stand outside the venue so you can get popcorn, snacks and drinks(extra charge) for your time in the show.
The food was amazing! Excellent presentation. You get to dine in a different restaurant each night with a different type of food. Even the buffet was above and beyond with a lot of delicious options. We also tried the burgers and ice cream and pizza on the pool deck all of which was very good food.
Disney Cruise line does not offer drink packages for alcohol however they do offer a “drink of the day” each day that is $5. They also offer tasting classes (for an extra cost) for bourbon, wine, rum and more! There are plenty of bars so there is always somewhere to grab a drink.
The ship was in true Disney form with the level of cleanliness and high quality service.
Royal Caribbean Cruise line
Royal Caribbean is very competitive with their pricing. They offer great deals like Kids Sail free. This is fantastic for those that want to cruise for less money. It’s important to note that Royal does non-refundable deposits in most cases unless specified that you want to pay more for a refundable deposit.
Activities for Kids
Royal Caribbean offers some great kids clubs with activities to keep them very busy and entertained
Activities for teens
There is a lot to do for teens including Rock Climbing walls, Basketball, Video gaming with new friends, table top games and some ships even offer zip lining and ice skating. Flo Rider is a favorite with my teens. They can surf right on the boat!
Activities for adults
There seems to be more offered for adults because some of Royal Caribbean’s ships offer Casino’s. There are also nightclubs and bars. There is bingo and game shows among more offerings.
- Ship accommodations
- Ocean transportation
- Most meals onboard
- Some beverages onboard
- Most entertainment onboard
There are several restaurant options (even quick service) that are an extra cost.
Royal Caribbean’s staterooms are smaller than Disney’s and I would say they are the typical stateroom size as most cruise ships outside of Disney. The bathrooms are very small as well.
The pools are large and spacious
The entertainment on a Royal Caribbean cruise is fantastic. They offer things you do not expect on a cruise ship such as Aqua shows, ice skating shows, world class shows like Grease, Momma Mia and Cats.
The food in the main dining is good. There are many upgrade dining options you can pay for on a Royal ship that are better. The main dining will bring you as much of the food that you want. The buffet on this ship feels and tastes like a typical buffet
Royal Caribbean offers drink packages to guests to purchase prior to embarking. These are great IF you and your significant other are big drinkers. Purchasing this ahead of time allows you to feel like this vacation is more all inclusive. It’s nice to have the option to purchase a drink package ahead of time.
Royal Caribbean does a good job with keeping things clean. No complaints here.
SO, Here is my final opinion on who wins each Category…drum roll please.
Price: Royal Caribbean
Activities for Kids: Disney Cruise line
Activities for teens: Royal Caribbean
Activities for adults: This one is hard for me. It depends on what you enjoy on a cruise. I am going to say a tie for this one. If you are big on a Casino then you would lean towards Royal.
Inclusions: Disney Cruise line
Staterooms: Disney Cruise line
Pools: Royal Caribbean
Food: Disney Cruise line
Alcohol: Royal Caribbean just for having the option to add the drink package prior to sailing. (although Disney cruise line makes an amazing Espresso Martini among other drinks)
Cleanliness: Disney Cruise line
In conclusion, you cannot go wrong with either option. I will note that Disney Cruise line has a lot of extras such as getting to meet characters, having themed days at Sea, Mickey Bars at every meal, Pirate Night, Fireworks at Sea and so many more. And there is more that I didn’t even cover such as their private islands. No worries though because having me as your travel advisor is to YOUR advantage so I can match you to what cruise line, ship and budget fits your needs. My “kids” said they prefer Royal Caribbean Cruise line overall. This Disney loving girl leans more towards Disney Cruise line.
So now it’s your turn… Have you sailed on both? What is your opinion?