I’m a Disney fan - I’ll bet you already had a pretty good idea about that. What I mean is, I believe in the Disney brand and with few exceptions, am pleased with Disney products I purchase. This includes Disney vacations. We love vacationing at Walt Disney World – it’s the perfect place for us and has been the source of so many unforgettable experiences and happy memories. Why mess with this excellent vacation formula? What made us take that first Disney Cruise? Well, first and foremost, a Disney cruise is still a Disney vacation. When we cruised for the first time, our children had reached the (*cough* difficult *cough*) age where they wanted to explore more of the world, see new and different things. Devastated, we tried to be accommodating (within reason) and combined a trip to Walt Disney World with a Disney Cruise – best of both worlds and still Disney!!!
Turns out this was a perfect plan! Raymond was anti-cruise and admitted later (after he had a wonderful time) that he’d been practically dreading the cruise portion of our vacation. What we thought would be one cruise turned into many – we’ve seen amazing, fantastic parts of the world – and still got to vacation in the Disney Bubble! My mission today is to give you a kind of comparison between Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line – in case you’ve been curious about how they stack up. To keep from gushing on all day about a couple of my favorite topics, I’ll limit todays discussion to 10 key areas.
Walt Disney World Versus Disney Cruise Line
1. Service – Ah, those famous and fabulous Cast Members! I’d say it’s a tie with the edge going to Disney Cruise Line. With rotational dining on the cruise, you get to experience different restaurants. The best part of switching dining experiences is that your assigned servers go with you – they’re the same servers you have every evening of your trip. Should you choose to dine in one of the signature, adults-only restaurants, you’ll have different servers, but they are absolutely top notch – hands down the best service we’ve had anywhere. The stateroom hosts/hostesses are fantastic (better than Mousekeeping at the resorts, for sure).
2. Price - I’m not a travel agent and I’ve not price-compared all the different resort types (value, moderate, & deluxe) with each cabin type and the prices during all seasons for Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line, but I’m confident – a Disney cruise can be comparably priced to a Walt Disney World stay. The cruise may actually be even more economical (depending on length and itinerary) when you consider food. All you care to eat, 24 hours a day (room service included) is hard to beat! Food at Walt Disney World (unless you take advantage of a free-dining promotion) is expensive! Park tickets are another big expense – We have found that while we can spend as much on shore excursions, we usually don’t have to.
3. Rides and Attractions - Walt Disney World is the clear winner in this category, however, don’t think for a minute that there aren’t a wide variety of amazing experiences available on a Disney cruise. You may not be going to Disney parks, but there are plenty of excursions that are very adventurous (either through Disney Cruise Line or on your own). Zip-lining in Alaska? We loved it! Touring Barcelona on a Segway? VERY fun! Biking, hiking, snorkeling, a stingray adventure? All available on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay (visited on most itineraries sailing from Port Canaveral). There are too many experiences to name here, but rest assured, you will not be bored on a Disney cruise.
4. Entertainment - We know there are awesome live shows and 3D movies to enjoy at each Walt Disney World park. On a Disney cruise, you can enjoy first run movies onboard the ship along with extremely well-done, Broadway quality entertainment every evening of your cruise. We LOVE the shows on Disney Cruise Line! The ships’ entertainment areas designed for children (kids’ clubs) are extraordinary! So much to see and do – just in a different way than at Walt Disney World.
5. Characters - The character meet-and-greets are plentiful at Walt Disney World and also on a Disney cruise! Because they’re confined to a ship and not spread out among 4 parks, the characters on Disney Cruise Line are, to me, more accessible than at Walt Disney World. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto – and a plethora of princesses along with many more characters are fairly easy to meet. For spontaneous, unexpected character interaction, Disney Cruise Line is the winner. Nothing makes returning to the ship at the end of an action-packed day more special than being welcomed back by your favorite Disney characters.
6. Food - I can find plenty of delicious foods to enjoy on either type of vacation. However, there are many more dining choices at Walt Disney World. Because of this, I feel like Disney Cruise Line makes an extra effort to please every type of person and their meal preferences (and special dietary needs). For example, if you don’t like one entrée – order another. If you don’t like any of the desserts on the menu, order a bowl of ice cream or a Mickey Premium ice cream bar. If you don’t feel like eating in the dining room, order room service. We like getting up early and walking on deck for a look around before stopping at one of the counter service eateries and taking our selections back to our cabin to enjoy. We also love the convenience of making our room service selections at night and having our breakfast delivered right to our cabin first thing in the morning – all included in the cruise fare.
7. Resort / Cruise Ship Amenities - Unlike different amenities available for different resort types, all guests on Disney Cruise Line enjoy the same perks. Access to the spa and salon, pools, exercise room, restaurants, pools, hot tubs, pubs, lounges, shops, theaters – equal access for all passengers. Yes, the spa and salon treatments are extra, but worth the splurge if your cruise itinerary includes an at-sea day. The ships’ exercise rooms are excellent (with awesome views) - we’ve even attended spin class!
8. Accommodations – Both types of vacations offer a variety of room/cabin choices to suit every family size and budget. I feel the need to mention that Disney Cruise Line’s cabins are among the largest in the cruise industry. The cabin spaces is used creatively with convertible couches and beds that drop down from the ceiling.
9. Location - If you choose a cruise out of Port Canaveral, you’re not far from Walt Disney World. It’s easy to combine a Walt Disney World stay with a cruise. If you want to see other parts of the world, you may need to fly to departure ports outside of Florida – airfare can add a significant amount to your vacation expenses. Walt Disney World never moves, so it’s easy to have a good idea about the time and expense it takes to get there.
10. Experience - This is the hardest one of all. The experiences are certainly different, but with many of the same special Disney elements. With so much to enjoy on each type of vacation – I can’t pick a favorite. We alternate visits to Walt Disney World with a Disney cruise as often as we can. This summer we visited WDW for a week and next summer we’ll be cruising with Disney in Norway. Every Disney vacation is special, exciting, and tons of fun. I’d call this one a tie.
Call your favorite travel agent or check out Disney Cruise Line vacations here.