Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean- Which One Is Better?

Docked Disney Cruise ship in Port Canaveral

While cruise line choice often boils down to timing and pricing, vacationers should consider which cruise line might be “right” for their current vacation style. Knowing what is offered and what is not on each cruise line can make or break a vacation.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line recently debuted a brand new cruise terminal in Galveston, Texas. Not often thought of as a “hot spot” for cruisers, Galveston is slowly becoming another desirable option besides a Florida port. Cruisers looking for something different regarding the itinerary, cruise line, and the ship will find just that on their next visit to the Galveston Wharves.

Currently, these cruise lines sail from Galveston on various itineraries:

  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruise Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Having experienced Royal Caribbean's ship Allure of the Seas most recently, comparing it to previous experience with Disney Cruise Line‘s Disney Fantasy was inevitable. So which cruise line is better? Both have pros and cons, so ultimately, it will be up to you to decide who wins in this battle of Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Staterooms Can Make a Difference

Sailing on the Disney Fantasy and Allure of the Seas allowed for comparing the same stateroom type. Both ships have an oceanview stateroom category that sleeps between three to four guests. The Fantasy has a better bunk setup and a split shower/toilet area, making getting ready in a small space much more manageable.

Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean Cruise Line: Points for stateroom to Disney Cruise line.

Activities for Kids on Board

Disney Cruise Line Halloween On The High Seas
Image Credit: Disney Cruise Lines.

Younger children will love the abundance of Disney characters and kids' club activities that only a Disney ship can provide. Older children in the middle-to-high-school range will appreciate Royal Caribbean's arcades, surfing, ziplining, rock climbing, and other sports attractions that appeal to their sense of grown-up fun.

Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean Cruise Line: Points for kids activities to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines for the 10+ crowd, but points to Disney Cruise Line for activities for kids under age 10.

Adult Activities on Board

Couple relaxing on a cruise ship deck.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Adults will enjoy the same sports attractions as their older children, but they will also enjoy the wide variety of adult-only dining options available on Royal Caribbean ships. In addition to the plethora of dining choices, Royal Caribbean ships also offer a casino. Disney and Royal Caribbean ships have nightlife for the 18+ crowd, but no casino exists on any Disney ship.

Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean Cruise Line: Points for kids activities to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Fine Dining Is Extra on Both Cruise Lines

While a lot is included on Disney cruises, some fine dining options are an extra cost. Royal Caribbean's fine dining experiences are also additional, but many more options exist. Disney Cruise Line adult dining options are Remy, Palo, and Enchante on the new Disney Wish. Royal Caribbean offers guests sushi, hibachi, coastal cuisine, Italian, a Brazilian steakhouse, and more.

Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean Cruise Line: Points for fine dining to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Entertainment on Board Is Excellent

It is difficult to determine which cruise line offers “better” entertainment. Disney is well known for its incredible Broadway-style entertainment. Allure of the Seas, specifically, offers its guests the fantastic Broadway show Mama Mia! and the spectacular Oceanaria, a unique aerialist and acrobatics water show.

Another point for Allure of the Seas? Evening comedy shows geared toward adults. However, because of the Disney Company's nature, cruise guests can see first-run showings of brand-new Disney movies that have just hit theaters. Royal Caribbean can only offer movies that have already left theaters.

Disney Cruise Line v. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line: Points for entertainment to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Both Cruise Lines Have Private Islands

Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Line have private islands, CocoCay and Castaway Cay. Complimentary food and beverages are available on both islands, but specialty and alcoholic drinks require an extra purchase. Complimentary chairs, towels, and life vests are available, but activities like snorkeling, biking, or visiting the waterpark at CocoCay require an additional fee.

Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean Cruise Line: Points for private island experience to Disney Cruise Line.

Merchandise on Board The Ships

No matter what kind of Disney vacation you take, you can rest assured that Mickey Mouse will be there. Disney Cruise Line offers unique merchandise and merchandise specific to each ship.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines offered Royal Caribbean branded merchandise on Allure of the Seas. There did not appear to be any ship-specific merchandise.

Disney Cruise Line vs. Royal Caribbean: Points for unique merchandise to Disney Cruise Line.

Additional Items Available for Purchase

One of the ways Disney Cruise Lines accounts for their higher initial cost to the consumer is by offering many included items. Other cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, offer specialty dining, drink, and alcoholic beverage packages.

Which way is “better?” Is it better to include coffee, tea, and sodas in the price of the sailing? Or is it better to offer guests the opportunity to decide what extras they want while keeping costs low?

One plus in Disney's favor is their free room service. Royal Caribbean offers basic breakfast for no extra fee, but any lunch or dinner room service requests will incur an additional cost.

Disney Cruise Line vs. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line: Points to Disney Cruise Line for including items in the cruise price instead of up-charging once on the ship.

Kids' Clubs for Children of All Ages

Disney Cruise Line's kids' club, the Oceaneer Club, has its advantages. They offer familiar settings like the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars or Andy's playroom from Toy Story. Additionally, characters often make appearances for dance parties and bedtime stories.

Royal Caribbean kids' club is separated by age group, which is a plus for families with little ones who might be intimidated by being grouped in with older children. However, Adventure Ocean, Royal Caribbean's kids' club, does not have familiar characters or scheduled activities.

Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean Cruise Line: Points for kids' clubs to Disney Cruise Line.

Aquatic Activities

Points to Royal Caribbean for having their children's pool area in the upper deck sun. Disney's cruise ships shelter the splash pad for young children under an overhang. The splash pad area is frigid if you are cruising at any other time of the year except for summer.

Finally, one of the most exciting aspects of cruising is spending time in a ship's pools, hot tubs, or on its water slides. Disney's ships typically only have one water slide per ship. While Allure of the Seas had no water slides, several of Royal Caribbean's ships offer multiple water slides for your enjoyment.

Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean Cruise Line: Points for pools, splash pads, and slides to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

When deciding on a cruise line to sail with, price, including any extras to make comparisons relevant, convenience, and amenities will be the most important factors to consider before hitting that final payment button.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Author: Sarah Gilliland

Title: Managing Travel Editor


Sarah Gilliland is a travel journalist and managing travel editor for Wealth of Geeks with over ten years of experience writing, editing, and producing content related to family travel. She freelances for other online outlets in addition to her role as the managing travel editor at Wealth of Geeks. Sarah's beats include theme parks, family travel, cruises, and road trips. When she isn't traveling or writing freelance columns, Sarah can be found on her website, On the Road with Sarah, or binging the latest geeky thing on Netflix or Disney+.