Cruise Comparisons: Royal Caribbean vs. Disney Cruise Line

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.

Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Disney Magic:  First sailed 1997..only 5 years newer than the RC Majesty but a world of difference as Disney consistently does upgrades on all their ships. Magic most recently received new carpet, decor, kids areas updated).
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs. Disney
Royal Caribbean  Majesty of the Seas:  First sailed 1992. Upgrades were done in May 2016 but it still looked like a 24 year old ship to us…other than outdoor movie screen with limited views…struggling to see what was upgraded.
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Disney Magic Oceanview Room:  214 square feet with split bathrooms (toilet and sink in one bathroom, shower and sink in the other, plus a separate living area/sleeping area separated by curtain).
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs. Disney
Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas Oceanview Room:  Only 120 square feet…two twins pushed together and no separate living area. Very small porthole window and tiny bathroom. Also in desperate need of updates. No way more than 2 people would fit in this room.

 

#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.

Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Disney island with umbrellas and chairs spaced apart nicely.
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Coco cay with chairs about an inch apart.
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Disney’s free floating water slides.  No charge!
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Coco Cay inflatable water slides. $22 per person per hour. Ouch.
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Snorkeling in disney lagoon. Only snorkelers allowed. To rent snorkeling equipment charge is $31.18 ages 10+. $15.05 ages 3-9.
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Snorkeling in Coco Cay…also open to swimmers. Rentals $54 per adult, $44 per child.

 

#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.

cruise comparisons royal caribbean vs disney

#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.

cruise comparisons royal caribbean vs disney
Animators Palate on the Disney Magic. Drawings on the wall start out in black and white and you guess what is being drawn…at the end of the meal they come to life and in color. Very cool.
cruise comparisons royal caribbean vs disney
Enchanted Garden – Disney Dream
cruise comparisons - royal caribbean vs disney
Royal Palace – Disney Dream

 

and now the Royal Caribbean Dining Room:

cruise comparisons royal caribbean vs disney
Moonlight dining room on Royal Caribbean.

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.  

 

2 Comments

  1. Jenny Purtell March 3, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Everything in this article is true. Just finished a Disney Cruise after cruising with other cruise lines in the past. I will never step foot on another boat unless it is operated by Disney.

    1. tammysmith314 March 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm

      Definitely a disappoint to do another cruise line after sailing with Disney!

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