Royal Caribbean Vs Disney Cruise Line
You’re looking for the perfect family cruise vacation — do you choose Royal Caribbean or Disney Cruise Line? Both cruise lines get high marks for entertaining kids and adults of all ages , with expansive kids clubs, onboard attractions, shows and activities.
While you can’t go wrong with either line, there are some differences. Disney is perhaps the more premium experience with smaller ships and slightly more fare inclusions, but its cruises are more expensive and limited to a smaller number of ships and itinerary options. Some Royal Caribbean ships carry thousands of passengers and can feel crowded and overrun with kids during peak travel periods, but with a large roster of ships and cruise destinations, you can find options that are quieter and more adult-oriented. Although you might feel nickel and dimed onboard, base fares are generally much lower than Disney, and you have much more choice of places to eat and things to do onboard.
For more on Royal Caribbean vs. Disney, read our comparison across categories below to determine which cruise line is best for you.
Choose Disney For Truly Family
While Royal Caribbean does offer special family cabins — including staterooms and suites with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms — all of Disney’s cruise ship rooms are family-friendly. Even inside cabins come equipped for families with two bathrooms , room-dividing blackout curtains and extra berths . There are even Peter Pan murals above the bunk beds for kids to look at as they drift off to sleep.
Choose Disney If You Don’t Want To Be Nickel And Dimed On Food
Family-friendly dining options are always included on Disney ships, and if you opt out of paying for food, you’ll still get to try multiple restaurants and only miss out on an adults-only date night or two. Disney does not charge for soda or room service .
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Kids Activities For Different Ages: Adventure Ocean Versus Oceaneer’s Club
This is a big area of difference that I noticed. When you compare both facilities, I will say that Disney will absolutely WOW you. From how they sanitize hands with this amazing hand-washing system for kids to how the play areas are set up with the theming, Disney wins this hands down with the wow factor with their Oceaneer’s Club. Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean is pretty underwhelming at first glance. However, they offer some significant advantages.
Royal Caribbean: Adventure Ocean for Kids Offers Programming Separated by Different Ages
Symphony of the Seas does this really well by separating the kids into specific age groups. This separation allows kids to hang out with those of their ages and get to know the staff better as well. They have separate play area and spaces.
- Aquanauts: 3 to 5 years old
- Explorers: 6 to 8 years old
- Voyagers: 9 to 11 years told
- Tweens: 12 to 14 years old
- Teens: 15 to 17 years old
Disney Dream: Oceaneer’s Club for Kids Offers Your Kids to Stay Together
Disney wows you with how amazing their space is set up, but allows kids between the ages of 3 and 12 to wander around without any divisions between the age groups. This can be overwhelming for kids under 3 years old without siblings, but also amazing for 3 year olds with siblings.
Hours for Nurseries Vary from Disney Dream to Symphony of the Seas
This is the only photo of the Royal Caribbean nursery for tots I could get:
Royal Caribbean Vs Disney Cruise: The Major Differences
Posted on – Last updated: 10/13/2022
If youve been a frequent reader here, you know that I am an avid cruiser on the Disney Cruise Line. I absolutely love their beautiful ships and fantastic service and have been happy on every single sailing Ive done. Weve reviewed all of their ships here and weve always had a positive experience.
However, this past winter break, my family sailed on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and also really loved it. Many people have asked for a Royal Caribbean vs. Disney Cruise comparison so they can choose the best option for their family.
We have loved our experience on both cruise lines, and I plan to travel on both in the future. But there are some discrete differences that are good to know, and you are likely to have a different experience on each line.
Disclosure: Ive been on cruises on both lines at no/discounted cost, and have also paid my own way on both. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links and a purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you.
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Choose Royal Caribbean For The Largest Selection Of Suite Types And Perks
While Disney ships have three types of suites, a small Royal Caribbean ship could have five, while larger vessels have more than 10 kinds of deluxe accommodations. Junior Suites are essentially giant balcony cabins, while Loft Suites offer two floors, often with multiple bathrooms, bedrooms and balconies. Family Connected Junior Suites combine three cabin types to sleep 10 people, while the Presidential Family Suite can house 14 in a humongous space, including four bedrooms and a balcony with full dining table and hot tub.
And while Disney does offer expanded amenities to suite guests, Royal Caribbean’s Royal Suite Class, a tiered perks program available on Oasis- and Quantum-class ships, adds attractive benefits like free gratuities, specialty dining, Royal Genie butlers and alcoholic beverage packages for top-end suites.
Buffet Style Complimentary Dining
Both ships offer a few options for complimentary style buffet dining when you don’t want to sit down to an elaborate dinner or need to get a bite to eat. However, Royal Caribbean offers a larger variety of places to choose from as compared to the Disney Dream. I also think the food is better on the Royal Caribbean.
The Disney Dream’s Complimentary Buffet Style Options:
- Cabanas: This is a large buffet that is similar to the Royal Caribbean’s Windjammer buffet.
- Flo’s Cafe: They offer burger, chicken, pizza, salad, and sandwiches. This is similar to Royal Caribbean’s Sorrento’s Pizza and Dog House. My husband thought that the options at Flo’s cafe was way better .
Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas Complimentary Buffet Style Option:
- Windjammer: This is a large buffet that is similar to Cabanas on Disney.
- El Loco Fresh: Mexican buffet that is delicious, reminds me of a watered down Chipotle.
- Sorrento’s Pizza:Delicious pizza pretty much any time you want it.
- Cafe Promenade: They have sandwiches, cookies, coffee, and tea.
- Park Cafe: Sandwiches, salads, and coffees.
- Solarium Bistro: Sit down area that not a lot of people know about since it is in the “adult only” section that people don’t realize they can bring kids to the food area.
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An Introduction To Disney Cruise Line Ships
As noted above, Disney Cruise Line is a relatively small player in the cruise world even smaller than it might at first appear.
Not only does Disney have far fewer ships than the big cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian that dominate the cruise business, but Disneys ships also arent as big as the biggest ships operated by those brands, and they dont carry as many passengers.
That makes Disney Cruise Line an even smaller brand, relative to the big lines, on a passenger capacity basis.
For instance, cruise giant Royal Caribbean has about five times more ships than Disney. But on a passenger capacity basis, based on double occupancy, Royal Caribbean is about 10 times larger than Disney Cruise Line.
That said, Disneys cruising division is getting bigger, fast. After going a decade without adding a new vessel, Disney Cruise Line is in the midst of building three more ships. The first of the new vessels, Disney Wish, just began sailing this summer, and two sister ships are due to begin operating in 2024 and 2025, respectively. The new ships, which collectively are known as the Triton class, are nearly doubling the lines size when measured by passenger capacity.
The Triton class is one of the three classes of ships in the Disney Cruise Line fleet. Disneys two oldest vessels, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, make up its Magic class. Disneys two next two vessels, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, make up its Dream class.
Size: 144,000 tons.
Booking Process On Disney Dream Versus Symphony Of The Seas On Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship
For Disney, I used a travel agent who was absolutely amazing. Initially, I did my research online and shared with my travel agent. There wasnt really a savings doing it on your own. However, what I gained was someone that could book all the activities on board as soon as they were open. This was important because if you wanted to book one of the makeovers into a princess or a pirate on a Disney cruise ship, you want to make sure you book the times where you can do the Princess Greeting event that was adjacent to your makeover time and the Pirate Night to coincide with the Pirate makeover.
For Royal Caribbean, I initially did it on my own by calling them. Booking a room with four kids couldnt be done online easily because of the way that they had it set up on the websites . There were different prices based on the number of people in the cabins. So, I had to do combinations of 3 in one and 3 in another, 2 in one and 4 in another, 1 in one and 5 in another for determining the best price. It was kind of ridiculous because you really couldnt compare based on the occupancy. I ended up booking through Royal Caribbean after hours on the phone and finally ended up transferring to an agent. After price shopping, I found that there was an agency offering better onboard credits and more dollar savings. However, the customer service was subpar. I wouldnt recommend booking through the travel agent and going through Royal Caribbean.
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First Time Alaska Cruise: Disney Or Norwegian Or Royal Carib
After reading all the reviews we are ALL THE MORE confused on which cruise to take Disney OR Norwegian OR Royal Caribbean We are interested in a 7 day round trip cruise and all the three do have one for the dates we are looking.
Where we are confused is on the list of activities to keep both us and our kids engaged during the cruise. While most of the ports are almost similar , and this being our first cruise and also first time to Alaska we thought we should take all the inputs.
Disney has had the best reviews on almost all the forums but comes at a price that is almost twice of the others.. so the question is Are Norwegian and Royal Caribbean THAT diferent?
I see a LOT of experienced guests here and am hoping that your inputs will help us decide.
Many Thanks in Advance Hope we get to choose the right option!!
You need to first get your geography sorted out. Disney sails a round trip from Vancouver, while NCL and RCI sail round trips from Seattle. Vancouver cruises are superior to those from Seattle, and the detailed explanation of that is contained in the Top Question to the right of screen, on a computer not mobile device, for Planning an Alaskan cruise.
We have friends who took the Disney cruise. They said the kids enjoyed it, but since its kid focused, the parents came back more tired than they expected as always on the go.
Which One Should You Choose For Your Family Vacation
The type of cruise that you choose for your family vacation will ultimately depend on your budget, desired destination, and preferred activity level. If you are looking for a kid-friendly experience with a bit of extra magic, a Disney Cruise is probably the best option. A Royal Caribbean cruise might be a better choice if youre looking for a more adventurous escape to an exotic corner of the globe.
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Destination And Port Options
Part of cruising is being able to wake up and be at another port. At the time of this writing, Disney only has 4 ships with three more in the making. Royal Caribbean has 26 ships with at least one more being built . A larger fleet means more ports that it can visit. Disney generally makes the same itinerary year after year, maybe transferring different ships to completing different itineraries. Royal Caribbean has ships upon ships, so they have more ports they can visit at any given time you want to vacation. So if destinations are important to you, this should be a tick mark for Royal Caribbean in general. The Symphony of the Seas generally does the Bahamas route as does the Disney Dream.
Disney Cruise Line Vs Royal Caribbean In Alaska
July 31, 2019 by Disney Cruise Mom
Today I am excited to share with you a guest blogger who recently sailed to Alaska on Royal Caribbean! I met Jody and her family on our Fantasy cruise last fall where we kept running into each other over and over. First, it was on our flight to Orlando . Then, we officially met standing in line for a bathroom on a tiny island the day that we stopped in Tortola when we were eating lunch at the same restaurant. After that we ran into them several more times, and finally we were seated near each other on the flight home after the cruise and had lots of time to talk during the LONG wait at baggage claim.
Jody is just as big of a DCL fan as me , but she is also a travel agent with much more knowledge of the other cruise lines than me. So, when I found out that she was cruising on RCCL to Alaska, I couldnt wait to hear her thoughts about how it compared to DCL. She was kind enough to write a very detailed report of how the two cruise lines compare on pretty much every subject. Here are Jodys thoughts:
As veteran Disney cruisers, we decided to cheat this time and sail on Royal Caribbean to Alaska. This was an extended family vacation with older cousins and a handful of adults, so the published activity options onboard Royal Caribbean were attractive to our larger group more so than Disney and characters. As a travel agent, this was also my chance to take notes and, well, compare the two cruise lines.
Endicott Arm/Dawes Glacier
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Compare: Msc Vs Carnival Cruise Line
Because cruise bookings have a lot of moving parts, it can be confusing to choose a sailing thats right for you, especially when youre comparing apples to oranges. If youre looking for a breakdown of Carnival vs. MSC cruises, we can help. Below weve compiled information on food, cabins, price and more for these two lines.
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Is Childcare Free On A Disney Cruise
On Disney cruises, kids clubs are free of charge for children aged three and over. Disney ships also have the Its a Small World nursery which offers childcare for under threes. The cost for this is $4.50 per half hour for the first child and $4.00 per half hour for any other children in your family.
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Tweens And Teens Area For 11 To 17 Year Olds
We like Anthems Living Room Area more than the Adventure Ocean but once again Disneys Edge and Vibe are just too good, especially with Vibes huge indoor/outdoor uber-chic club. If you are a teen or tween on Anthem of the Seas that would rather read a book than shoot hoops The Living Room may be your fav hang out spot on the ship. We tried to imagine what a teenage girl would do aboard Anthem if she didnt enjoy the sporty stuff. The Living Room is pretty much it. If you have cruised this ship with a teenage girl, I would be curious to hear your comments leave them below.
Best Overall: Celebrity Cruises Review
Celebrity Cruises wins our top spot for the best overall cruise line and best cruise line for couples. What sets them apart? There are a lot of reasons why theyve been voted Best Premium Cruise Line by Travel Weeklys Readers Choice Awards for eight years in a row.
Celebritys ships are among the most stylish compared to all other major cruise lines. Consumers rave about their specialty restaurants and level of service Celebrity has more crew members per passenger than other major lines. And they offer a wider variety of onboard activities . You may pay a bit more for your initial cruise package, but Celebrity doesnt charge an arm and a leg for extras on board.
Onboard activity highlights: adult-only pools, indoor pools, spa, basketball, mini golf, arcade, trivia contests, casino, upscale live musicals, comedy shows, glass blowing classes, dance contests, interactive Top Chef Quickfire Challenges , presentations by naturalists and experts about the history and culture of your ports of call and much more.
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Our First Royal Caribbean Cruise
Our Royal Caribbean cruise was a 7-night sailing aboard the Harmony of the Seas. The Harmony of the Seas is an Oasis class ship, and one of the biggest ships in the world! We sailed out of Port Canaveral to the Eastern Caribbean. Our cruise sailed to St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbeans famous private island.