Thinking about a cruise for your honeymoon or next vacation? Royal Caribbean and Disney are two of the most popular cruise lines around, and although they share some similarities, there are some characteristics that set them apart.
If you’re trying to decide between a Royal Caribbean or Disney cruise, it will depend on the kind of experience you’re looking for. In this article, we’ll compare Royal Caribbean vs. Disney cruises to help you choose which one is best for you.
Royal Caribbean vs. Disney Cruise Overview
Royal Caribbean is known for their massive cruise ships and variety of exciting activities. With some of the largest cruise ships around, there’s plenty of deck space for passengers who want to simply lay back and enjoy the sun, while thrill-seekers will have no shortage of adrenaline-pumping entertainment like waterslides and rock-climbing walls.
There’s something for everyone on a Royal Caribbean cruise, from family-friendly dining, activity, and entertainment options to plenty of upscale restaurants, bars, and nightclubs for young couples and singles.
Royal Caribbean has ports all around the world, but its most popular destinations are in the Caribbean and Alaska. Cruise lengths range from 2 nights to a 274-night ultimate world cruise. They have a fleet size of 24 ships, and their smallest ship can accommodate 2000 people while the largest ship can hold 5700 passengers and crew.
In contrast, Disney’s fleet consists of only 5 ships. The smallest ship, the Magic, can hold 2713 passengers. The Wish, Disney’s newest and largest ship, made its debut in 2022 and can hold 4000 passengers. Voyages are typically between 2 and 14 nights long, depending on the destination.
Disney’s private island in The Bahamas, Castaway Cay, is an oasis reserved exclusively for Disney passengers sailing in the Caribbean. It features family-friendly beaches as well as an area for adults, a snorkeling lagoon, shopping, boat rentals, eateries, and much more.
Disney has itineraries in the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean, Canada, and Mexico. In 2023 Disney announced limited-time sailing from Australia and New Zealand starting in October, and 2025 will see Disney’s 7th ship make its homeport in Singapore.
Royal Caribbean vs. Disney Cruise Dining
Royal Caribbean and Disney cruises both offer a range of dining experiences, from grab-n-go nooks to fine dining. In terms of choice, Royal Caribbean trumps Disney cruises. In addition to Royal Caribbean’s 3 complimentary dining options, you can find dozens of specialty restaurants throughout the ship.
Royal Caribbean’s largest ship, Symphony of the Sea, boasts a whopping 20 eateries. You can choose from 3 dining plans on your cruise, including the ability to try somewhere new every night with an unlimited dining option.
The signature food options onboard Disney cruises are pretty standard throughout their entire fleet. There are 3 restaurants on board plus snack and meal stands scattered around the deck.
Most of it is included, but items like alcohol, specialty coffees, and adult-only dining areas come at an additional charge.
Disney uses a unique rotational dining system to ensure that each passenger gets a chance to try all three of their themed restaurants. Passengers are assigned a table number and set schedule when they check in and rotate to different restaurants each night. Servers rotate with the tables, so you’ll get to know your tablemates and your server will get to know your preferences as the cruise carries on.
Royal Caribbean vs. Disney Cruise Cabins
Royal Caribbean’s cabins and suites are known for being some of the most luxurious in the cruise world. They have cabins for all kinds of budgets and even their smallest staterooms don’t skimp on the indulgence. The most coveted accommodation is the balcony cabin. The 180- square-foot space features a king bed or two twin beds, a sofa, and a workspace.
Suites on Royal Caribbean ships are attractive, and there’s a wide range of categories to choose from. The Royal Loft Suites are two decks high and feature a massive sitting area and floor-to-ceiling windows. Family Suites are colorful and sunny and have cool features like giant games and Lego walls.
There are 4 categories of Disney staterooms and 10 different types of staterooms within those categories to choose from. Most of the cabins aboard Disney cruises are designed with families or groups in mind.
Disney staterooms are noticeably larger than Royal Caribbean’s staterooms and those of other cruise lines like Norwegian. Disney rooms also have lots of extra storage spaces built right into the room, and extra large bathrooms with partitions to make getting the kids ready much easier.
Couples will be most comfortable in a Verandah stateroom that comes with a view of the ocean and a small balcony that’s large enough for a couple of chairs. For families traveling with kids, the Concierge Stateroom has enough space for 6 or 7 passengers and features a separate bedroom with a private balcony plus a lounge area with a minibar.
Royal Caribbean vs. Disney Cruise Activities and Entertainment
Royal Caribbean is known for offering some of the most varied and exciting activities on board any cruise ship. Extreme sports enthusiasts will love Royal Caribbean’s surf and skydiving simulators, rock climbing walls, zip lines, bumper cars, towering waterslides, and ice skating rinks. Evening entertainment options include live bands, Broadway productions, family-friendly performances, dance lessons, trivia nights, and a nightclub.
While Royal Caribbean has plenty of kid-friendly entertainment options, they obviously can’t hold a candle to a Disney cruise. Everything on board a Disney cruise ship is designed with kids in mind. Kids will get a chance to meet their favorite characters at Disney’s signature sail-away dance party, hosted on the first night of every Disney cruise.
Throughout the trip they’ll be able to catch live productions of original Disney shows; watch a firework show light up the night sky; take part in lots of fun daily activities in the Kids, Tween, and Teen Clubs; and zip down waterslides into refreshing swimming pools. Older kids will love Goofy’s Sports Deck, found on 4 of Disney’s ships, which has mini-golf, a basketball court, obstacle courses, and virtual sports simulators.
There’s also plenty for adults to do onboard Disney cruises. There’s a fitness center, spa, and salon on each ship, and the Wide World of Sports Deck is always open for a game of basketball. During the evening, go dancing or catch a show at Disney’s nightclubs and lounges, or enjoy a quiet, romantic meal at Remy or Palo. Each ship also has an adult-only section of the pool deck.
Royal Caribbean vs. Disney Cruise Cost
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Disney cruises are very expensive compared to other cruises. On a Disney cruise, you’re not just paying for the trip, you’re paying for the entire Disney experience. The characters, children-focused business model, extra-large staterooms, and visits to Disney’s own private island all drive up the cost. Not to only that, the world-class entertainment that Disney is known for requires the best performers and high-end special effects technology.
So many variables can affect the cost of a Disney cruise that it’s hard to estimate an average cost, but expect to pay upwards of $1000 per couple, and even more if you have kids. Keep in mind that Disney cruises don’t offer any beverage packages, so you’ll likely end up spending much more than you anticipated if you plan to drink alcoholic beverages on your Disney cruise (unless you’re planning to try to sneak alcohol onto your cruise).
Royal Caribbean cruises can be quite costly as well, averaging around $150 – $250 per person per night. Although Royal Caribbean cruises aren’t all-inclusive, you can purchase add-ons like Royal Caribbean drink packages ahead of time so it’s easier to budget and you don’t need to worry about surprise expenses.
Royal Caribbean vs. Disney Cruise Passengers
Royal Caribbean cruises offer plenty for couples, singles, solo travelers, retirees, and families with kids of all ages. There truly is something for everyone and you’re bound to see passengers from every demographic on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
While Disney cruises are popular among families with young children, older kids and teenagers might feel a little too mature for some of the entertainment options. Also, adult-only areas and activities on Disney cruises come at an added cost, so couples looking for some romance might be better suited on a cruise geared toward adults.
Either cruise line would be great if you’re traveling with kids, but if you’re on an adults-only trip, Royal Caribbean is probably the better option.
Did we tell you everything you need to know about Royal Caribbean vs. Disney cruises? If you’re still unsure, a cruise travel agent can help. They have the expertise to help you find the best cruise line, ship, and itinerary for your perfect vacation.
He is an expert travel advisor and enthusiast. He has traveled extensively in the USA, Central America, South America, and Europe. He has visited every Sandals Resort and is one of a select few Diamond Elite members of the Sandals Chairman’s Royal Club.
Dan graduated from Johnson & Wales University with an associate degree in Culinary Arts. Later he graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus on people and culture.