Which is better: Disney World or a Disney Cruise? Here’s the pros and cons of each to help you decide which is best for your family!
Deciding on where to vacation can be pretty difficult at times, especially if you have to choose between two AMAZING destinations! When it’s not possible to do both because of time restraints or other factors, it can be hard to tell which vacation will best fit your family’s needs. So, what do you do when you can’t decide? I’m here to help make that decision a little easier for you!
One of the most frequently asked questions I get as a Disney travel advisor is, “Which is better? The cruise or the parks?” I always have a tough time answering that question because the answer can be different depending on your family’s needs and wants! We are talking about two totally different vacations here and if you don’t know the pros and cons of each, it can be very difficult to decide what’s best for your family. It all comes down to what kind of vacation YOU want!
If you need personalized Disney vacation advising, we would be more than happy to help! We are certified travel advisors for all Disney destinations with an award winning agency – Ears of Experience, LLC. We have years of experience vacationing at Walt Disney World and with Disney Cruise Line. We do all of the planning so you can enjoy your vacation! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
So, lets start with MY personal favorite (even though Disney World will always be home!) – Disney Cruise Line!
The Pros of a Disney Cruise Vacation
1. It’s Relaxing
One of the biggest differences between the cruise and Disney World is that the cruises are so much more relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, Disney World can be relaxing if you plan it right! But on a cruise, you don’t have to deal with all of the walking, fighting crowds, and standing in line all day (which you won’t do if you make us your travel advisor, we definitely know how to work the FastPass system to your advantage!)
On a Disney Cruise, you can bask in the sun in a lounge chair while sipping something fruity and watching the waves crash by the boat. There are lots of pools, a swim-up bar, a spa and salon, and many other relaxing activities you can enjoy onboard. The atmosphere is definitely not as rushed as Disney World!
Check out 15 Things For Adults to Do on a Disney Cruise!
2. All-Inclusive Price
On a Disney cruise, almost everything is included in the price. You can take a look at the details of what’s included here. All of your food and drinks (except a few specialty items like bottled water and alcohol AND optional adult only dining) are included in the price, as well as any activities, play areas, and shows you see onboard. You truly can never get bored! You don’t ever have to take out your wallet on a Disney Cruise which makes it easy and less stressful! The kids get all-they-can-eat sweets and play time, and you don’t have to break the budget!
3. The Service is Unbeatable
My husband and I went with our whole family on a Disney cruise for the first time ever last month (he and I have been on 3 by ourselves, but it was our first with our daughter and my family!). We were all expecting great service because, well, it’s Disney! But I can’t tell you how amazed we were when it came to the service we received from everyone onboard throughout our entire cruise. Everyone was beyond accommodating and so kind.
Our waiters that followed us to each of our dining venues every night, Ge De and Joel, were outstanding. My daughter had just started eating purees, so once they learned how much she liked vanilla pudding, they brought some to our table every night! They would talk and laugh with her and just made us all feel so welcome. Even our stateroom hostess made a point to talk with us every time she saw us.
4. You get to Experience Other Cultures First Hand
One of the things I love most about Disney Cruise Line is that you get to experience other cultures, and you get to do it safely. It is so educational for you and your children to see the world around you and learn how other people live. We book all of our Port Adventures through Disney and we have always had a wonderful experience. It is so much fun to get an up-close and personal look of other countries and their heritage.
On our last cruise, we visited Falmouth, Jamaica and learned so much about the history of the region by visiting the Greenwood Great House. This beautiful, historic home was filled with priceless antiques and our guide was full of knowledge about the things inside, on the property, and places all around Falmouth. Disney Cruise Line goes to HUNDREDS of destinations around the world, so the possibilities are endless!
5. The Entertainment
Every night of your cruise, you’ll get to see a live show in the Walt Disney Theatre and let me tell you, you DON’T want to miss it! Most nights you will get to see amazing Broadway style shows and other nights will be awesome comedy or magic shows. They are all so fun for the whole family to watch! I love that they bring this aspect of Disney onto the cruise ships because as I’ve always said, you can’t beat Disney’s live entertainment!
6. Childcare is Included
Parents everywhere, let me hear you say HALLELUJAH! Ha! Another great thing about Disney Cruise Line is that there are FREE clubs for kids! The kids can go party with their favorite characters, play games, and meet new friends while the adults have some time for themselves! Each of the clubs have highly trained counselors who will take great care of your kids while you go have some relaxation time. The only time childcare is not included is if you choose to take your kids ages 6 months – 3 years to the nursery. Although, it is at a very affordable rate ($9 an hour for the first child, $8 for the second or more!) and may be worth it for your family!
7. More Efficient and Less Time-Consuming Character Meet and Greets
I was so impressed by how the character meet and greets are scheduled on a Disney cruise. There are different characters at different parts of the ship ALL the time which makes lines shorter, faster and easier for you to see who you want! My daughter was so excited to meet Ana and Elsa on our last cruise, and I think they were just as excited to meet her! There are also lots of meet and greets on Castaway Cay as well! We loved getting to meet Captain Hook!
8. Disney’s Private Island – Castaway Cay
This is by far one of my favorite places to visit! This island is truly amazing. So many fun things to do! Private beaches, amazing buffets, adventurous and relaxing excursions, paddle boating, banana boating, and the list goes on! This island was just named the best cruise private island in Cruise Critics Cruisers Choice Destination Awards for the 3rd year in a row! This is one huge perk of DCL.
Disney Cruise Line Cons
1. No Thrill Rides
If it’s important to you to be able to go on tons of thrill rides and roller coasters, you won’t find these on DCL. Other than the AquaDuck and AquaDunk, Disney World has DCL beat in this area. Although you’ll never get bored on DCL, you will find many more attractions in the parks.
On a cruise, it’s hard to get WiFi and cellular service without paying an arm and a leg (though Disney does have affordable WiFi packages including ones where you can pay as you go). This can either be a downside or an upside, depending on whether or not you want to disconnect from social media and phone calls while you’re onboard.
3. Embarkation and Debarkation can be Lengthy
Boarding and getting off of the ship can be pretty time consuming, although Disney tries to make this process as quick and smooth as possible. It just might take some time and it’s something you need to be prepared for before booking your cruise. It can be a long process for kids especially, although they forget about it all when they get on board and see all of the fun things to do!
The Pros of a Disney World Vacation
1. Tons of Attractions
One thing is for sure, you can NEVER get bored at Disney World! There are so many things for the whole family to do at all four of the parks. I wish I had photos of everything there is to do, but I would have to show you an entire book! Ha! Just to give you an idea, I wrote a blog post a while back about all of the rides that don’t have a height requirement (and that’s mostly all of the rides in the park, besides the roller coasters and thrill rides!). You can check that out for a good long list of things there are to do, and even then, that’s not everything! Disney is great for ALL ages!
2. World Class Disney Service
Just about everyone who has been to Disney World has a story of how a cast member has gone above and beyond for them. I know I have plenty of those myself! At Disney World, you can’t beat the service that you receive at the restaurants, resorts, and inside the parks. Cast members can sometimes be seen giving away free things, such as free parking, tickets, or food. One of my clients has even had the Memory Maker package given to them! That really made their trip!
3. Customizable in Price
On a Disney cruise, your accommodations, dining, and most of your activities are all in a big lump sum. At Disney World, you can be flexible in what you pay for. If you don’t want the dining plan, feel free to bring your own food. If you choose not to park hop, just get a base ticket. This is one of the perks for WDW, as the price of a cruise can add up.
4. More Dining/Character Dining Options
On a Disney cruise, there are several dining and character dining options to choose from, but not near as many as on WDW property. There are hundreds of restaurants to satisfy everyone’s taste in the parks, Disney Springs, and at the resorts. Two of our FAVORITE restaurants are The Crystal Palace and Liberty Tree Tavern. Our baby girl had SO much fun meeting Winnie the Pooh characters for the first time at The Crystal Palace!
5. You can Experience other Cultures Without Ever Leaving the Country
What I love about Epcot is that you get to visit other countries without actually leaving the country! There are 11 different countries in the World Showcase at Epcot, and each have different attractions and educational opportunities which also makes it great for kids to learn while having fun. Also, you can try new gourmet foods from every country, which is my favorite part!
6. The Entertainment
With the cruise, you get an amazing Disney show every night. At Disney World, you see them multiple times in one day! If you’re really into the shows, I highly recommend Hollywood Studios. You can see Beauty and the Beast Live, a Star Wars Shows, and so much more.
7. Lots of Shopping
If you love shopping for exclusive Disney items, Disney World is the place for you! There are stores on the cruise, but not near as many. Disney World has Disney Springs, which is a HUGE shopping center filled with stores, restaurants, and even activities for the little ones.
Cons to Disney World
1. All of the Walking and the Heat
If you really hot weather bothers you and you don’t like doing a lot of walking on your vacation, then Disney World is probably not somewhere you would enjoy. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t do Disney World without having downtime (in fact, I HIGHLY recommend taking a couple days off from the parks for “chill days”), but for most of the vacation, you will be on the go if you want to fit everything in. When you book with me as your travel agent, I will give you tips on keeping cool in the heat and taking time to rest!
2. Childcare is NOT included
This is usually a HUGE downside for parents, as opposed to the cruise where it IS included. There are outside child care companies that will come to your room and stay with your kids while you go have some adult time, but Disney has no childcare included in the cost of your vacation.
3. Character Meet and Greets usually have long waits
Unless you use your FastPass for a meet and greet with characters, the lines can be lengthy. On the cruise, the lines are usually shorter because there are a limited amount of people on the boat with you AND there are meet and greets that require tickets.
No matter which Disney destination you choose, you are SURE to have a great time if you take advantage of all that Disney has to offer!
We’re starting to think about saving for a Disney trip in the next couple of years. I haven’t given much thought to a Disney Cruise, but now I’m thinking that would be amazing too someday!
It is totally worth every penny!
My brother swears by the Disney Cruises, but I personally enjoy Disney World! Which ever works! =) Great job on this post!
Both are great choices! 🙂
When I was a kid my parents could not afford to take me to Disney World. It wasn’t something we ever discussed. As an adult surrounded by kids all day, I heard stories about Disney Land and Disney World. I wanted to go. My husband wanted to go on a cruise. So, we compromised and did a Disney Cruise. It. Was. The. Most. Amazing. Family vacation we have ever taken!!! My kids still talk about it and we went in 2014. Our next excursion will be Disney World…but, I’m going to talk my husband into going back on the Disney Cruise….and then Disney World another time.
I completely agree!! Disney World will always be home, but man that Disney Cruise is just unbeatable. So much fun for the whole family!
Can you tell me about disney world SPECIAL needs packages? Stay in the park resorts? Helpers,
And budget costs total?? 12 year old daughter with autism, asking alot, sorry😇
Hi David! Thanks for reaching out! Unfortunately Disney does not offer any special packages for special needs families, but they will accommodate you with whatever you need! I will email you now so we can talk a little more!