Have you ever heard the saying, “You get what you pay for?” Right, of course you have. How about when it’s applied to your family vacation? I only ask because this sentiment could not be any truer when it comes to booking a cruise for your family.
Believe me, I understand the appeal of what looks like a great deal. I’m guilty of buying things just because they’re on sale only to never even use them. I get it. But at the end of the day, a deal is only as good as what you’re getting out of it. If you’re paying $199 per person for a cruise and it feels a little too good to be true, it probably is. The moment you board that ship and see that it’s sporting outdated 80s décor, pink walls, old carpet, one outdoor movie screen, and maybe some added entertainment if you’re lucky, you’ll wish you’d spent the extra money on something that’s worth it. Let me explain why.
Most cruise lines go to the same destinations. You’ll rarely find a port that doesn’t play host to most of the major players in the industry, which means you’ll never have to choose your cruise based on WHERE you want to go.
Instead, base your decision on HOW you get there. Why? Because the majority of your vacation time is spent on the ship, so you want some nice activities and amenities for your family to enjoy. Newer ships, such as Royal Caribbean’s “amplified” line up, include things like ice skating, laser tag, rock climbing, Flow Rider surf simulation, VR trampolines, mini golf, and so on and so forth. Your ship isn’t like an airplane or a taxi, taking you from one destination to the next; it’s your resort.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to book the most expensive, grandiose ship on the water in order to enjoy an incredible cruise. You can book a high-quality ship at an affordable price if you know what you’re doing. That’s where I come in. You tell me exactly what you’re looking for in a cruise experience, and I’ll use my wealth of experience to lead you in the right direction. So, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by requesting a quote online, and I’ll tell you what ships I would recommend based on your family’s budget and needs.
Today on the blog I will be doing Cruise Comparisons: Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas vs. Disney Cruise Line 3-Night Cruise.
#1: Ship and Staterooms
Winner: Disney is the clear winner. Ship is much prettier, Staterooms nearly 100 Sq ft bigger (Oceanview room). Disney ship looks new after their renovations. RC still looks like a 24 year old ship.
#2: Castaway Cay (Disney) vs. Coco Cay (Royal Caribbean)
Winner: Disney again. Both islands are beautiful. However Castaway has a larger beach area, chairs are not on top of each other (you can’t even step between 2 chairs at Coco Cay they are so close to each other). Disney had a separate adult only beach, a roped off snorkeling lagoon that is only for snorkelers, a floating water slide that is free of charge, and umbrellas free to use by the chairs. RC snorkeling lagoon has snorkelers or regular swimmers, no umbrellas unless you rent them ($50 pp), inflatable water slides ($22 pp – per hour!). Disney cruises start out more expensive initially but you really feel nickeled and dimed on RC. Disney’s lunch on the island was much more organized, RC had lines going every which way and was just a cluster. Food was better on Disney’s island too although RC wasn’t bad. Disney has towels on the island for pick up and drop off, RC you have to check out towels on ship and then bring them back on ship with you or be charged $25 per towel. Disney island is walk on from ship, with RC you have to be tendered over on a boat.
#3: Pre-cruise documentation / information and cruise check in process
Winner – Disney. Disney mails you this great personalized spiral bound booklet containing important information you need to know before your cruise, along with sticker luggage tags. With Royal Caribbean you go online and print and staple or tape your luggage tags to your bags and print out your cruise documents. Check-in at the port is quick (15 minutes) and organized with Disney. With RC it took us an hour to get checked in. Disney also has a great app for you to download. Prior to your cruise there is a vacation countdown on the app. Once on cruise you can connect to wifi for free within the app and find ship layout, times for all activities offered, dinner menus and can text members in your party within the app. You also get a paper itinerary each day. Royal Caribbean only offers a paper itinerary. No app to find times or menus or texting so you either need to memorize schedule or carry paper around with you.
Royal Caribbean vs Disney Cruise
#4: Drink packages
Winner: Royal Caribbean. Bet you all thought Royal wouldn’t win any of my comparisons. 🙂 Disney’s only drink package offerings are bottles of wine (1 bottle per night – 3 bottles total – at dinner) for a 3 night cruise – $95. They also offer a refillable 22 oz beer mug for $16.95 that you can refill each time for price of 16 oz beer. Disney does have numerous bars and lounges which all serve alcoholic drinks. Prices for mixed drinks range from $7 to $12. They also do a “happy hour ” special on a certain drink in the afternoons (timed vary) where that drink will be buy 1 get 1 free or half price. Royal Caribbean offers a beer and wine package for $49 per person per night (must purchase for length of cruise) or a mixed drinks, beer and wine package for $59 per person per night. So for a 3 night cruise the beer, wine and mixed drink package for 2 people would cost you around $420 because 18% gratuity is added on to every package. You would need to drink 5 or more drinks a day to get your money’s worth.
#5: DINING EXPERIENCE
Winner: Disney. Disney has 3 main dining rooms, themed and beautifully decorated. On the Disney Dream the restaurants are Animators Palate, Enchanted Garden and The Royal Palace. Your servers follow you to each restaurant each night. They know you by name, remember what you like to eat, drink, etc. Service is top notch. With Royal Caribbean you go to the same (plain) dining room every night. You do have same servers and although service is good, they don’t personalize it like Disney does. They don’t know your name and don’t care to. Lol.
and now the Royal Caribbean Dining Room:
Are you as underwhelmed as I was?
So as you can see, I highly favor a Disney Cruise. My first cruise was actually a Disney Cruise. I LOVED it. I quickly booked a Royal Caribbean cruise next….after all, it was cheaper. Well, I found out why. As they always say, you get what you pay for. The Disney brand delivers…exceptional customer service, extremely clean, always updating ships to keep them looking new and modern and plenty of activities to keep you busy – at no extra cost. We felt like we had to pay for activities (spa, etc) to keep us entertained on the Royal Caribbean cruise. This post, of course, is only comparing the 3-night cruises. Royal Caribbeans 7-night cruises are on their nicer, newer ships and therefore should be more competitive.
Have you sailed both Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean? I would love to hear your thoughts!
As an Independent Travel Agent with Mouse Counselors, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and all other non-Disney destinations (all cruise lines, All-Inclusive Resorts, European vacations & more) at no cost to you. Message me today if I can help book a magical vacation for you.