Disney Cruise Vacation vs Walt Disney World Vacation

As you have probably noticed, we love to cruise and we also love Disney. Lately, in some of the groups I frequent, there have been a few discussions on whether to go on a Disney Cruise or go to Walt Disney World again. I have to say, that when given a choice, I’ll cruise any day before I go deal with the crowds at the theme parks but I thought I would list the pros and cons for those that are deciding on which would be better for their family to help you decide!

Disney Cruise Line Vacation

We have sailed on Disney Cruise Line (DCL) three times on three different ships: Disney Wonder, Disney Magic, and the Disney Dream. Our first cruise with Disney was when my daughter was 2 1/2 and my son was 8 months old. My husband and I have taken one additional cruise on another line prior to having our children. We are very familiar with DCL.

Pros:

  • All inclusive when it comes to food and non-alcoholic drinks. All of your meals are included except if you choose to eat at Palo/Remy. You can eat at anytime of the day or night and that includes room service, quick service type meals (burgers, hot dogs, pizza), and your meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sodas ARE included and free from the drink stations on the pool deck. Disney is the only line that does this. Alcohol is NOT included, however, Disney is the only cruise line that allows you to carry on alcohol and consume it while onboard.
  • Character Meets are easier to navigate on a cruise. The meets are scheduled and listed in your Navigator each day. The lines are not nearly as long as in the parks. The most we had to wait was maybe 20 minutes and we have often just run in to characters walking on the ship and they will stop and greet you and allow pictures, sign autographs, etc.
  • Cabins are serviced twice a day! You don’t get that at many resorts since turn down service is not something available except maybe at the Concierge level at Disney resorts.
  • Unpack once and see many different places! This is a HUGE bonus in that you can go to different islands or countries and you only have to unpack once!
  • Kids clubs are AWESOME! They take such good care of the kids and the kids always love all the activities available. Have a tween or teen? They have their own clubs with activities geared towards their age groups.
  • Adult Only Areas are wonderful too! Disney does a great job on the cruises of keeping children out of the Adult Only pool area as well as the clubs, Palo, and Remy. You can enjoy some fun adult time while the kids are having a blast in the Kids club!
  • Fireworks at sea! This is on most DCL cruises (except Alaska) and is a unique experience. No need to stand with tons of people pushing and shoving to see the fireworks one night.
  • Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island in the Bahamas and it is BEAUTIFUL! A great beach spot to relax and have some fun.
    castaway cay
  • The shows on the ship are of the highest quality. Disney does a great job at producing wonderful shows for the whole family and you can attend them each night as part of your cruise fare.
  • Relaxation! Need I say more. You can do as much or as little as you like and don’t feel pressured to “see it all”.
    IMG_1116

Cons:

  • Price. Disney Cruise Line is more expensive than a lot of the other cruise lines. However, you do get what you pay for. The Disney service is exceptional and the kids talk about all our cruises all the time. The other lines nickel and dime you for everything and once you pay for a soda card, access to slides and things on the other lines private islands, you aren’t saving THAT much on the other lines.
  • No Roller Coasters. Who needs a roller coaster when you have Aqua Duck and Aqua Dunk!
  • Limited characters to meet. You won’t have ALL the characters like you might at the parks, but you have the main ones – the princesses, Captain Hook, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Chip and Dale, etc.
  • Documentation necessary to cruise. I highly recommend passports but for some that might be a costly expense but so worth it. You can however cruise using a birth certificate for each person and picture ID if you are over 16.
  • Motion sickness/Sea sickness might make you a little concerned. I’ve been on 4 cruises total and only on one did I get sea sick and that was on another line. The Disney ships have stabilizers and that helps. Also, get a cabin close to the middle of the ship. There are also things you can use like sea bands. I have to say, I sleep so well when we are on cruises because the slight motion that we feel rocks me to sleep. With Disney going out of Port Canaveral, the first night and the last night coming back in are usually the most motion you will feel.

So, there are the Pros/Cons of a Disney Cruise Vacation. Now let’s look at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Walt Disney World Vacation

Pros

  • More resort options if you like the themed resorts on property or you can stay off property and save some money.
  • The parks obviously if you like the rides, shows, and the parades.
  • More character options as far as the characters themselves: Winnie the Pooh, Elsa and Anna, etc.
  • Lots of different restaurant options available to you to suit your preferences of cuisine and budget.
  • Disney dining plan can help if you are wanting to do all your meals on the resort property and the parks. However, it can wind up being more expensive since some have stated they can’t possibly eat all the food each day.
  • Can be cheaper than a Disney Cruise if you hit a good sale, stay at the value resorts, stay off property, already have tickets. etc.
  • You don’t have to plan for shore excursions and go to another country. However, with the new Fastpass + system, you will be planning all your rides for each day long before you actually enter the park.
  • No worries if you get motion sickness, won’t happen once you are at the parks.

 Cons

  • Crowds! Unless you are able to travel at an off-peak time, you will be battling larger crowds than you would on a cruise ship. This can lead to long lines for rides you didn’t Fastpass and character meets.
  • Lines to meet characters can take hours to get through. I’ve been hearing the line for Elsa and Anna at Epcot is up to 6 hours wait. Personally, I’m not going to wait 6 hours to meet them.
  • Pressure to “do it all” since you have paid all this money, especially for park tickets, you want to make sure you experience ALL and will stay from open to close. This can be too much for little ones and results in melt downs and getting off schedule and then no one is enjoying themselves.
  • Food can be EXPENSIVE. If you like sit down meals, it will cost you a lot if you are on property and a family of 4. You can expect to spend anywhere from 60 up to 100 dollars for a sit down meal if you are not on the Disney Dining Plan. PLUS, you have to make reservations for a lot of the popular restaurants MONTHS in advance.

There are the Pros and Cons of Walt Disney World. We have been to WDW many times with our children. Most of the times were while they were still free. I have to say with the cost of park tickets now, for us it doesn’t make sense to go often. Neither my son or I ride roller coasters and my son often doesn’t like shows so we wind up spending a few hours only in the parks and he is ready to go back to the room and go swimming. This leaves my husband and daughter in the parks riding rides the rest of the day and so we aren’t spending as much time as a family. For us, taking a cruise is a much better vacation – we all get to have time to do our favorite things and we see a lot of really neat stuff. Plus, I love the relaxed pace of a 7 night cruise. You can do as little or as much as you like and that can change day-to-day.

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