Comparing Cruises: Royal Caribbean v. Disney Cruise Line
Cruising can be a wonderful choice for a vacation, but it can be variable depending on where you are cruising and who you are cruising with. There are a lot of factors that can make or break your cruise experience. About 3 years ago I had the chance to take a Caribbean cruise for 4 nights on the Disney Dream ship. This past June, I cruised around the Mediterranean on the newest Royal Caribbean ship in its fleet for 7 nights. I am going to break down which one won out for me in different categories.
The Ship? A Tie
I’m going to start off with saying I have a tie here. The reason being is that the Royal Caribbean ship we sailed on was the Symphony of the Seas, a brand new ship that is the biggest cruise ship in the world. This boat holds up to 7800 passengers alone. With it being brand new, the ship was pristine and beautiful.
The Disney Dream is the largest boat currently in Disney’s fleet. It’s impressive and the wonderful design has a whimsical feel you don’t find in any other cruise ship. It is cleaned and updated often, so it doesn’t feel outdated in any way.
While the Symphony of the Seas had more to offer due to its massive size, both boats are truly winners. You can’t go wrong with either ship.
Stateroom? Disney Cruise Line
I’m a difficult cruiser in the way I have to have a balcony room, or else I will get sick and claustrophobic. So on both ships we had balcony rooms; one of our Royal Caribbean rooms had an inside balcony which was a fun difference.
Disney Cruise Line boasts some of the largest cruise rooms, which for me is essential as cruise ship rooms are pretty small to begin with. Both rooms were great in design and comfortable, the primary reason I say Disney won is the bathroom layout.
On RC, the bathroom and shower are in the same small room. DCL has two separate rooms, one with the toilet and the other with the shower. This makes getting ready in the morning much easier as you can be using both rooms.
Food? Disney Cruise Line
This one was a no brainer for me, Disney wins all the way. RC food felt mass produced and all tasted very similar. The main dining room wasn’t bad, but outside of that it was all pretty meh. The other issue is many places close at odd hours and it leaves only the buffet open, which we didn’t like at all. If you wanted higher quality food, you were required to pay for those meals at specialty restaurants.
Disney Cruise Line had almost every restaurant included and you were able to rotate through dining rooms. The food felt much more fresh and diverse in nature. Both ships had spectacular service, so there is no need to be worried on that front. Be prepared to also pay for soda packages on RC while DCL includes it.
Entertainment? It Depends
Let me preface this section with this… while RC has spectacular performers and elements in their shows, the concepts themselves are bizarre and hard to like in my opinion.
That being said, RC has much larger diversity in their shows including diving shows, ice skating shows, stand up comedy and stage shows. You also must book tickets, though they never really check for them. The issue remains that a majority of the time we left the show wondering what in the world we just watched. There was no apparent story line and nothing to follow. If that is your thing, than RC wins for you.
DCL has broadway style shows each night. You rotate through the shows without needing to book them and you can watch them broadcasted on the TV in your stateroom if you didn’t attend in person. These shows are high caliber, spectacular productions. These are the only shows each night, there is no other variety. So if broadway and singing is right up your alley, DCL wins. I personally (and my family) prefers DCL style entertainment.
Activities? Royal Caribbean
Both ships offer a variety of activites, but RC has a much wider array of activities available. RC had 2x as many pools, splash pads, slides, water slides, flowrider, mini golf, sports courts, ziplines, rock climbing, game rooms, casinos, and more. Our only complaint was the odd times things were available. Most were closed at night when you were back on the ship.
DCL may not have as many adventurous activities, it does much better on offerings listed in your cruise compass. You won’t be bored ever on a Disney ship because if all else fails, you can head to the movie theater and watch feature films that are still in the theater.
Family Friendly? Disney Cruise Line
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but DCL is far superior to any other cruise line on family friendly. The kids clubs are superb and the cast members are fantastic. My 11 yr old sister didn’t go to the kids club once on RC, she felt it was very “babyish”. Another note is RC charges for kids clubs after 10pm while Disney does not.
At night, RC becomes almost kid unfriendly as everyone is out partying and there are no activities for those 16 and under. This is something my family really struggled with because we couldn’t leave her out but she also couldn’t do a majority of the things we wanted to do.
I was impressed with RC but I think it also helped that it was a brand new ship. I would happily cruise on both lines again, but if I had to pick one over another, Disney would win out for me personally. I much rather have everything included rather than feeling like I have to pay for a ton of extra things. I also prefer broadway show style entertainment and the guest service Disney provides. At the end of the day, Disney Cruise Line felt more worth the money spent.
Interested in booking a cruise? Be sure to contact Get Away Today for the perfect cruising experience!
Header Image from Mike Arney on Unsplash