Posts filed under ‘Disney Cruise Line’

A Royal Caribbean Fan’s Perspective on Disney Cruise Line

Here’s a strange confession from a Disney-focused travel agent: before going on a Disney Cruise, my family were committed fans of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.  Royal Caribbean is very highly rated in the market for older teens & college aged people for good reason – things like the ice rink, climbing wall, & flow-rider.   I even told my kids, “I know that you’re not going to like Disney Cruise Line as well as you like Royal Caribbean and I want your honest assessments but please try to be fair.”   Disney is top dog in the market for families with younger children but they haven’t always scored as well with teens and young adults.  I was really surprised when my two girls (12 & 17 at the time) said that they actually preferred the Disney cruise.  

Here’s what we liked:

  • Disney does your arrival and cast-off better than other cruise lines.   For example,  you are announced when you board.   They might say, “The Jones Family, from New Jersey, have arrived and are sailing with us for the very first time!”  Then there are several crew members in dress uniform who clap enthusiastically like you are royalty.  I assume they do this on the bigger ship too but don’t know for sure.   It’s so great.  Then they encourage everyone to go on deck when it’s time to sail away from the pier.   There’s the Disney themed sounding of the horn and confetti and Disney employees on a deck back at the terminal who wave (again) enthusiastically.   It’s like being on the maiden voyage of the Titanic…or something…anyway, it is great.   You spend a lot to go on a cruise and they make the it such a celebration…not only are you going on a cruise but people are seeing you going on a cruise.  My mother would say that all that attention will give one “the big head” but I thought it was marvelous!
  • The Disney cruise terminal in Cape Canaveral is very nice – Disney designed it from the ground up so it is just easier and more pleasant than some other ports.  Getting to teh port is a breeze too – no big city traffic or confusing streets.   For driving directions, see:
  • Disney Cruise Line tries to evoke the feel of the golden years of transatlantic cruises.  To that end, Disney’s décor is more elegant where Royal Caribbean & Carnival are more glitzy.   We thought the ship was just beautiful.
  • The staterooms are definitely larger on the Disney cruise and our family really appreciated the split bathroom.  On past cruises, my husband had to step out of the stateroom while our girls got ready for formal nights because there just wasn’t much room.   Having one space for showering and another space with a sink & toilet allowed 4 people to have privacy while sharing a bathroom.
  • The movie theatre on-board was very nice.   I don’t really go on cruises to see movies but we got to see a first run movie in a very nice setting, which the girls loved.
  • My girls felt like there were more activities that we could enjoy together, as a family.   The other cruise lines have excellent kids’ programs and excellent activities for adults but somewhat limited offerings for kids & adults together.   Disney had lots of activities geared towards multi-generational participation.
  • My youngest daughter appreciated that the activities in the children’s program actually started when scheduled.  We tend to do things as a family when on a family vacation so Michaela would check in to the kids’ program only when something was of particular interest.  The kids program on Royal Caribbean is excellent but starting & ending times for activities are approximations.   On Disney, even if one activity ends a little early, they wait until the posted time to begin the next activity.   We knew when to check her in and didn’t have to worry about her missing out on something that she wanted to. 
  • I liked the pagers they provide parents when kids are in the kids program.  Michaela could send messages like “ we need a little extra time” or “I’m ready to be picked up now”.  It made me feel more comfortable with leaving her when I knew that she could communicate with me, if she needed me.
  • My daughters – raised on a steady diet of all things Disney – loved the evening shows.   I agree that the productions and performers were better than those on Royal Caribbean but they are just SO Disney (Toy Story – The Musical, for example).   I would’ve preferred something a little less child-centered; of course, I may suffer from Disney over-exposure a bit as a Disney-focused travel agent.  We did really enjoy the “Golden Mickey’s” show.
  • The Rotation Dining (different restaurants) were fun and it was nice to have the same servers at each of the restaurants.   In fairness, I must say that the Disney food was good but not exceptional.   I felt like our head waiter was just more attentive than what we’ve experienced on other cruise lines.  Because you do rotate between restaurants, the head waiter helps you find your table or connect with your servers, as needed, when you go into a new restaurant.   When I wondered how many plates & bowls the ship needed to serve so many meals, our server got the head waiter who came over and gave me a full accounting of the dishes – it was very interesting.   On other cruise lines, I felt like I only saw the head waiter on the night when tips were distributed.  
  • Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island) is incredible and beautiful.   A highlight of the cruise, for sure!  If I ever jump ship – it’ll be a Castaway Cay.
  • The staff was excellent and the ship was clean – very Disney in that regard.
  • I do feel compelled to say that the swimming pools on the smaller ships are a bit of a disappointment, if you’re used to the larger Royal Caribbean Ships.  I haven’t been on the Disney Dream yet so I can’t give a first-hand perspective on  the bigger ships’ pools – they look incredible and are getting rave reviews.    

I’d be very happy to help you and your family or friends with a Disney cruise.   I can answer your questions and get a brochure to you.  Once you book, we’ll send the Passporter’s Guide to the Disney Cruise Line and Ports of Call to you as a thank you gift.  And you can just let me know what else you need all through the vacation planning process.  

Please let us know how we can be of service!

Thank you,


Build A Better Mouse Trip
Toll free: 877-815-6515

October 16, 2011 at 5:28 pm Leave a comment


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