Disney World is known as the most magical place on earth, but Disney Cruises are the most magical places at sea! Which one should you dish out your next travel fund to to experience? Which one gets you more bang for your buck, more access to adventure, and more VIP treatment? The answer might surprise you.
If you've been to Disney World before, you know that they spared no expense in making this Orlando theme park one of a kind. As you walk through the park, you'll notice how every detail is perfectly Disney, from the jewelled sandy ground beneath Aladdin's magic carpet ride to the Mickey-themed manhole covers in the Magic Kingdom. But Disney Cruises offer the same exceptional attention to detail along with constantly changing exhibits, shows, and spaces designed to help you sit back and soak in the proverbial pixie dust.
Right now, Disney offers a fleet of four different kinds of cruise ships: Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy. Each has their own unique style of the Disney brand while offering the same essential packages for families, couples, and kids. Your choice in ship depends on where you want to go, from Alaska to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and even tours around Europe. You can literally see the world while immersed in trademark Disney magic.
Still not sold on the superiority of Disney Cruises? Don't be such an Eeyore! Check out these 22 reasons and share them with any friends who are true Disney fans to see what they think.
22 So Much Swimming
If you’ve been to Disney World, you know that while they offer a few water rides, the vast majority of the park is dry—full of roller coasters, themed restaurants, green spaces. But the weather in Florida and throughout the tropical destinations of a Disney Cruise is HOT. The cruises have the advantage of quick access to places where you can cool off.
Most Disney Cruise ships have the same general design, including a series of pools on the main deck and added water slides.
Sometimes, the slides extend out over the side of the ship, with transparent walls so passengers can zip over the ship’s edge on their way into the pools. Whether you have a first-class suite or basic cabin, you get to take advantage of these waterworks anytime you please.
21 Trading Pins
If you’ve been noticing shirts, jackets, and even high-end purses with faux patch appliques, you’re not alone. It might sound like a thing of the past, but pin-trading is actually very in right now! We might have the pins-and-patches trend to thank.
On a Disney Cruise ship passengers come from all over the world to celebrate all things Disney together. They’re encouraged to bring pins from their home countries, cities, or states to swap with other passengers on board. The cruise line encourages this fun tradition by holding a ship-wide trading night once every journey.
Where else can you find limited edition Disney pins, patches, and thing-a-ma-bobs (I’ve got plenty!) all in one place? You can even supplement your collection with limited edition pins sold on the gift shop of each cruise. Get that jacket ready!
20 You Won’t Miss Movie Releases
Is your trip to Disney scheduled on the same weekend as the new Star Wars movie is premiering? On a Disney Cruise, there’s no conflict. Movies are released on board at the same time as they are on land! If you’re considering going to Disney World or on a Disney Cruise, it’s a given that you or your family absolutely loves Disney movies. Disney knows it!
That’s why there’s a theater-sized movie screen on the main deck, playing films one after another after another.
They call it a ‘dive-in!’ You can expect to see classics from the ‘Disney Renaissance’ of the 1990’s, like the animated Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, along with new releases like the live-action Beauty and the Beast (and soon, live-action The Lion King). The cruise ship offers you the chance to make once-in-a-lifetime memories of seeing new Disney films for the very first time.
19 Exclusive Disney Treats
Have you ever had a Mickeycinno? Disney Cruise ships offer this adorable drink along with a wide range of snacks and desserts only available on board. Even if you searched the Disney World theme parks, you wouldn’t find the full selection of themed goodies available on the cruises.
Grab a smoothie at ‘Frozone Treats,’ a parlor named after the icy hero pal from The Incredibles. There’s plenty of tasty treats to discover at Vanellope’s Sweets, named after the little heroine from Wreck It Ralph. Or why not try an Eye-Scream cone named after Mike Wazowski from Monster’s Inc.?
Not only are these desserts delicious, but they’re also really Instagrammable. Make your followers swoon and attract some attention on the Disney hashtag while you eat.
18 VIP Service
When you go to a theme park like Disney World, you don’t expect to be treated like a star. The service is great (we love those cast members!), but it can’t compare to the VIP experience available to you on a Disney Cruise.
Just like any cruise line, Disney offers packages at several different price points. Even at the lowest level, passengers get access to their own designated relaxation areas, table service, and more. Their levels go up the more cruises they go on, however. After one cruise, you’re inducted into the Castaway Club and receive all its perks as a Silver Member. After five cruises, you become Gold, and after ten, you become Platinum. Extra special perks for high-ranking members include discounts, early booking options, and free dinners. They know how to keep you coming back, for sure!
17 Storage Space
One of the worst things about a trip to a Disney theme park is having to tote things around with you all day. If you have children, you have to keep track of their snacks, sunscreen, toys, towels, and sometimes strollers while you try to navigate the massive parks. If you drop something on the way, good luck getting it back.
On a Disney Cruise, your cabin is all the storage space you need, and it's just steps away from all the action and adventures on board.
Forgot your sunscreen? Just duck back into the room and get it. Need a place to store the craft your kid made at the Kids Club? Pop back to the room and tuck it into your luggage. Need to stash your wet bathing suit away? Hang it up to dry in your cabin’s private shower. Enjoy the experience of being on vacation with both hands free.
16 Amazing Creative Activities
Visiting Disney destinations always gets our creative inspiration flowing! If you’re feeling inspired at a Disney park, there’s not much to do but keep on enjoying yourself. But Disney Cruises are packed with activities designed to spark inspiration and capture creative moments that you and your family can experience.
For example, during dinner at the Animation Palate restaurant on a Disney Cruise, the placemats invite you to draw your own cartoon character. Through an on-board program called Animation Magic, you can then see the character come to life while you eat! Talk about creativity in motion. This cool tool is offered on longer cruises on the Disney Magic, Disney Fantasy, and Disney Wonder ships and is sure to delight everyone at your dinner table.
15 Your Own Space To Breathe
At Disney World, there is never an opportunity to stop and take a minute for yourself unless you want to drive all the way back to your resort or hotel. On a Disney Cruise, you always have the option of escaping and relaxing in your own private room, away from the other passengers and travelers.
There is no pressure to see everything in just a matter of hours like you might feel at a Disney theme park.
You can take your time exploring and experiencing the ship at your own pace, without getting overwhelmed and overstimulated. If you’ve ever wished you could take a nap in the middle of your day at Disney, a Disney Cruise might have everything you’re looking for. Unwind at the on-board spa or just slip away into your own comfortable cabin. Hakuna Matata!
14 Befriend The Cast
When you’re confined to a ship for days on end, you get to know the people around you. Lucky for Disney Cruise passengers, this includes the dozens of elite performers who voyage along with you!
Disney’s performance standards are notoriously high, so the people cast to play princesses and heroes on Disney Cruise ships are the best of the best. They’re triple threats (having been trained in acting, singing, and dancing), and you’ll have seen all these skills in action by the end of your voyage.
The best part? It’s easy not to be intimidated. You’re sure to pass Snow White in the hallway and see Olaf by the pool. It’s just a part of the Disney Cruise culture. Make an effort to say hello to your favorite cast members and you’ll be singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” in no time.
13 Character Wardrobe Changes
When you see Mickey at Disney World, you're lucky if you see classic Mickey. But true fans on Disney Cruises will notice that characters on board have their own changing wardrobes, with unique outfits designed to fit every occasion.
Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Mickey, and Minnie wear special outfits for Pirate Night, formal wear for special dinners, and even add fun regional details to their outfits
depending on where their ship is headed each day. These changes aren’t announced. They just happen as the cruise goes on. If you cruise to Alaska, you can see Minnie in a fur coat and Mickey in festive fisherman gear. If you head to Rome, Goofy is going to get dressed in his Italian-inspired best. This is a fun perk that only Disney Cruise passengers get to appreciate (and take selfies with, obviously).
12 Kids Clubs
If you have kids, you know that going to Disney World is all about them. On a Disney Cruise, it can be about your enjoyment too. The on-board Kids Clubs are designed to help kids maximize their fun on a Disney Cruise while parents can trust that they’re being looked after safely and responsibly. With kids taken care of, parents can truly relax and take in all that their own vacations have to offer.
There are also Teen Clubs on Disney Cruises, ensuring that even angsty teenagers can find their kind and make the most of their vacation.
This “separate but together” system is a great way to make sure all the different ages represented by a family are catered to, unlike the one-size-fits-all design of Disney theme parks. You can decide for yourself which one you prefer, but we’ll take the cruise.
11 24-Hour Disney
At Disney World, everyone has to leave after the fireworks (unless you’re a guest at Cinderella’s Castle! Read about it here). On Disney Cruises, however, the magic doesn’t stop at midnight. Your Disney experience lasts for 24 hours a day, from the all-you-can-eat breakfast to the Disney details in your private room as you fall asleep at whatever time you choose. Keep the wonder going without having to find your car in a parking lot and drive away from it all.
On a Disney Cruise, you’ll definitely feel fully immersed in the Disney bubble for as long as you’re on board. A lot of the ship is open late, especially the adult-only areas that we’ll get to a little later. There are even food options open after the official dinner has been served. It's your cruise, your choice, after all.
10 All-Inclusive Options
There is nothing worse than walking through Disney World and having your kids beg you for every item they see. Or maybe you’re the kid yourself, getting distracted by all the expensive Disney-branded kitsch and activities advertised at the park. On a Disney Cruise, you’ve already paid for pretty much everything by the time you get there. Almost nothing is off-limits on board, so you (or your kid) can indulge in whatever catches your eye.
Disney Cruises offer all-inclusive packages where your room, food, and activities are all covered by your ticket purchase.
This means you don’t have to hold back! Run around the decks, jump in every pool, taste every buffet dish–it’s all ready for you to experience without having to pull out your wallet at every turn.
9 Character Dance Parties
These are so much better than a meet-and-greet. You can party with characters from specific Disney films at themed dance party events, including Pixar Pals Dance Party, Pirate Night, and more. While Disney Parks have also started hosting dance parties involving film characters, they serve much larger audiences and don’t offer the one-on-one fun of the cruise line versions.
A Disney Cruise is like one long photo op, but a Disney character dance party is a complete photoshoot in the making. Instead of posing with your favorite characters, bust a move beside them, and get that once-in-a-lifetime picture. Imagine doing the worm with Lilo and Stitch or the whip and nae nae with Winnie the Pooh. Your Facebook account doesn’t know what’s coming.
8 Great Views
There’s no elbowing for a good seat on a Disney Cruise ship. With just enough space for everyone and being designed so everyone feels like they’re in the front row, performances on Disney Cruises are easy to watch because you can get so close to the action. Whether the shows are on the main deck or on stage while you eat dinner, you won’t miss a beat.
Shows at Disney theme parks are also great, but it has to be said that they can get crowded and hard to see. On a cruise ship, everything is on a slightly smaller scale, including the ratio of performers to passengers. See Broadway-quality performances from just a few feet away, and get the pictures to prove it. There’s no better way to experience Disney live.
7 Cruise Ship Community
Even though there’s up to 4,000 passengers on every Disney Cruise, the amount of strangers on board shrinks every day. It’s easy to make new friends on a Disney Cruise because you see the same faces over and over.
The same can’t be said for time spent at Disney parks, which welcome more than 52,000 visitors daily.
If you’ve been on a Disney Cruise before, you know what we mean. You might have noticed those homemade door decorations that passengers display. They’re called fish extenders, and they’re packed with small gifts that some friendly travelers pack to exchange on their journey. Sites like DisBoards Cruise Meets forum and CruiseCritic's Roll Calls are the places to get involved in your future cruise’s trading community ahead of time.
6 No Lines
How much of your time at a Disney park has been spent waiting in line? Whether it's queuing for a ride for hours at the Animal Kingdom or waiting for a seat to open up at an Epcot restaurant, we know that most trips to Disney World are largely spent waiting around.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Disney Cruises are designed for fewer people, making your experience a much less crowded one.
They are meant to accommodate the exact amount of passengers they welcome aboard, so there is guaranteed to be space for you. You bought your space! No unnecessary waiting required. In fact, the only line that you might find yourself waiting in for more than a minute is the line to get on the ship in the first place, which we're sure you'll agree is worth it anyway.
5 Real-World Landmarks
No Epcot imitations here. A big part of the Disney Cruise experience is actually cruising to new and exciting locations across the globe.
If you take the European trip on the Disney Magic ship, expect to stop in Copenhagen, Denmark, England, Barcelona, Puerto Rico, Port Canaveral, and Rome. This is both educational and luxurious! Imagine celebrating your very merry un-birthday in Alice's own home country or waking up to the lush German landscapes that inspired Sleeping Beauty. The Caribbean cruise's exotic ports even include an island owned by Disney, where you can swing on a hammock without having to deal with both tourists and locals. Shore excursions are always exciting and definitely a means of making memories that the Disney theme parks just can't offer.
4 The Luxuries Adults Can Enjoy
Walt Disney himself designed the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, Orlando, to be a non-alcoholic space. This makes sense since it's focused on facilitating kid-friendly fun. It was dry for almost 50 years until they finally allowed fine French wines to be served at the Be Our Guest restaurant, to the disappointment of some hardcore Disney fans.
The attitude towards 'having a drink' is completely different on a Disney Cruise. Each ship has plenty of exclusive spaces only available to passengers who are legally adults, including sports bars, pubs, and night clubs. You would expect these kinds of activities on a regular cruise, but for them to exist on a Disney Cruise is downright magical. Even beer and wine tastings are hosted. Drink up!
3 Less Walking Required
We know that after a day of Disney World fun, all you want to do is lie down. The parks are just huge. Even if you find a bench beside the ride your friends want to go on, there are usually other sweaty, tired people using it. On a Disney Cruise, not only are there plenty of spots to sit and chill out, but there's also way less space to cover.
The ships are still definitely big, but all the fun available in the parks is compacted into their almost 300-meter-long decks.
For comparison, the Magic Kingdom at Disney World is 43 hectares for 430,000 square meteres. And that's just one park! The amount of time and energy you have to spend navigating and moving through is just wasted when you think about how much more you could be doing on a Disney Cruise and how much less your feet would hurt.