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Disney Cruise Line review
Experience trademark magic above the waves — though it won't be cheap.
Escape with your family to a place designed with kids in mind. From onboard babysitting to giant water slides and Disney characters wandering the decks, you won’t find anything else like the Disney Cruise Line experience on land or sea.
If an entire boat filled with children sounds overwhelming to you, don’t worry — you’ll find plenty of adults-only areas on each ship, including lounges and nightclubs, a fitness studio, a spa, a salon and fancy restaurants. When you’re ready to rejoin the kiddos, be entertained together with a variety of theater, live music and movie screenings to choose from.
Still, you’ll pay the price for indulging in one of these family vacations. Disney Cruise Line trips come with a higher price tag than similar itineraries offered by competitors. Before diving in, arm yourself with the facts.
Amy Stoltenberg is a staff writer covering all things travel, shopping and lifestyle. After earning a BA at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked as technical designer in corporate fashion before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop's closed, you can find her wandering around Los Angeles looking for hole-in-the-wall eateries and plotting her way to all 50 states (she's currently at 28).
Read a Disney Cruise Line review
Case study: Elizabeth's experience
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We have been to all of these destinations before, and they are lovely to visit so we didn’t mind going again. However, the main reason we took this cruise was because it was a Halloween cruise and it was on Disney Cruise line — and we were traveling with some family. So we were there for the fun and festivities on the Disney ship. There were no kids with us, but Disney Cruises are actually pretty awesome even if you don’t have kids.
Disney ships are amazing. The rooms are so comfy, the service is fantastic and there are many options for dining and entertainment — all of which is top notch. Of course, we are Disney fans (and big kids at heart) so we enjoy taking Disney cruises. Not having children with us doesn’t deter us from a Disney Cruise because it’s such a great overall cruising experience — and totally relaxing. There are plenty of adult-only areas from pools, bars, shows, spas and more. And surprisingly, we find that they are much more quiet and enjoyable than other cruise lines where the adults are there to party.
About Elizabeth’s cruise
Ship sailed: Disney Wonder and Disney Fantasy (two cruises)
Disney Cruise Line departs from 13 ports in the US, Europe and Canada. Find one that’s closest to your home — or in a city that’s easily accessible through a budget airline — to cut costs traveling to and from the dock.
Barcelona, Civitavecchia, Dover, Galveston, London, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Port Canaveral, Rome, San Diego, San Juan, Vancouver
Disney Cruise Line destinations
If you crave a tropical destination, you’re in luck — Disney Cruise Line offers ample itineraries around Hawaii, the Bahamas, the Caribbean and the Mexican Riviera. It can also get you to Alaska and the Western Mediterranean. But it doesn’t often offer routes to Asia, Africa or Oceania.
Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean, Europe, Mediterranean, Mexican Riviera, Mexico, North America, Northern Europe, Repositioning, Transatlantic, Western Caribbean, Western Mediterranean
Gratuities aboard Disney Cruise Line ships
While most cruise lines charge lump sums for gratuities, Disney Cruise Line breaks it up according to each employee that renders you service.
Here’s what you can expect to pay in gratuities:
Dining room server
$4.50 per guest, per day
Dining room assistant server
$3.50 per guest, per day
Dining room head server
$1 per guest, per day
Stateroom host or hostess
$4.50 per guest, per day
A 15% gratuity is automatically added to all alcoholic beverages purchased, and spa services incur an 18% fee. But don’t worry about tipping the babysitter — it’s not expected.
You can prepay Disney Cruise Line gratuity up to three days before the start of your cruise. Otherwise, it’s automatically charged to your account after the cruise ends.
Why you should — or shouldn’t — cruise with Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line trips generally are more expensive than what you’d pay for a similar experience with a different company. That’s because you’re paying extra for “Disney-ness” — characters dressed up aboard the ship and the nods to favorite Disney stories throughout.
Still, if you or your kids are Disney fanatics, the one-of-a-kind experience might be worth the price.
Whimsical experiences designed with family in mind:
Costumed Disney characters pose for pictures
Get discounted fares for kids up to age 12, avoiding the adult prices for little sailors that come with other brands.
Automatic 15% bar, beverage, wine and deck service gratuity is lower than most cruise lines.
Complimentary room service 24/7.
Disney allows guests to bring up to two bottles of wine or champagne or up to six beers on board at the start of the cruise.
Send free messages to other passengers through the Disney Cruise Line App.
Less flexible dining options, with dinner set every night and seats assigned.
While everyone in your booking party should be seated together, your family might have to sit with people you don’t know.
Nursery care for kids up to age 3 costs $9 an hour with a two-hour minimum — though the kids club for older children is free.
Solo travelers must pay double to cover the cost of staterooms meant for two guests.
On shorter cruises, lines to meet characters can get long.
Itineraries are limited by the fact that it only has four ships, with most destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe.
We compared the cost of a three-night cruise from Miami to the Bahamas for a family of two adults and two kids under the age of 13. In our research, we chose the same dates and the lowest priced interior cabin from each cruise line.
Even though kids’ tickets on Disney Cruise Line were significantly discounted compared to the adult fare, the Disney trip cost more overall.
Total fare (including taxes and port fees)
Disney Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line
Data obtained October 2019 for cruises sailing December 11 to 14, 2020.
Families and multigenerational clans will find unending entertainment aboard a Disney Cruise. But if you’re looking for a more upscale experience or simply not a fan of the mouse, compare other cruise lines.
FAQs about Disney Cruise Line
Because Disney Cruise Line trips are primarily marketed to families, the cheapest month to sail is when demand is lowest, typically January and early February. As soon as spring break hits, rates are likely to spike. Likewise, summer tends to be more expensive.
Absolutely! Adults without kids are welcome on Disney Cruise Line ships.
The following drinks are free aboard a Disney Cruise Line ship:
You’ll have to pay for:
Smoothies in the teen-only lounge
Soda in the bars and lounges
Yes. The Disney Premier Visa lets you earn extra points and rewards with every Disney Cruise Line purchase.
Latest Disney Cruise Line deals
Disney cruises from $705 per person to the Caribbean
Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, However, it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated domestic travelers as of April 2021. International travelers need to get tested three days prior to flying out of the US and within three days after returning, even if you are fully vaccinated. It recommends that you delay travel if you’re not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.
If you’re planning a trip outside the US, bear in mind that many countries have placed restrictions on US tourists. Check the US embassy website for updates before booking international travel.
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