Disney Cruise Vs Royal Caribbean: Which Is Best?

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Royal Caribbean is arguably the biggest cruise line in the world, while Disney is arguably one of the biggest companies in the world full-stop. They’re two giants of the cruise industry – but how do they compare when you put them side-by-side?

Comparative image showing Disney Fantasy on the left and Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas on the right, illustrating the differences in design and scale between the two luxury cruise liners at sea.

There’s a lot that the two cruise lines share, but even more that separates them too, and if you’re planning a cruise then it’s good to see what makes each of these cruise lines unique so that you can make the right choice for your family.

I’ve sailed on two Disney ships (Disney Wish and Disney Magic) and three with Royal Caribbean (Allure of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas) so as well as the factual differences, I’ll share my own experiences too.

So let’s take a look!

One of the biggest differences between the two cruise lines is the size of their respective fleets.

Disney has just five ships, with three more currently under construction (Disney Treasure, Disney Adventure and Disney Destiny).

Royal Caribbean has a huge mammoth fleet of 27 ships, with another three on the way for now (Utopia of the Seas, Star of the Seas and one TBC).

Disney Cruise Line Ships

The Disney Wish cruise ship docked at Castaway Cay, with vibrant tropical foliage and the clear turquoise waters of the Bahamas visible.

There are currently three classes of ship in the Disney fleet:

  • Triton Class – the biggest ships for Disney, accommodating a maximum of 4,000 guests
  • Dream Class – two ships that can accommodate 4,000 guests
  • Magic Class – two ships that can accommodate 2,700 guests

A fourth class is on the way, currently named the Global Class though this may change. Disney Adventure will be the first of these, capable of hosting up to 6,000 guests.

Read more: Disney Cruise Line Ships By Age

Royal Caribbean Ships

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas luxury cruise ship sailing at dusk, with its name visible on the hull and a calm sea in the background.

Royal’s ships all fall into one of eight classes:

  • Icon Class – the biggest cruise ships in the world accommodating up to 7,600 guests
  • Oasis Class – six mega ships that can accommodate around 6,800 guests
  • Quantum Ultra Class – two modern ships accommodating 5,500 guests
  • Quantum Class – three ships accommodating 4,900 guests
  • Freedom Class – three ships accommodating 4,400 to 4,900 guests
  • Radiance Class – four ships accommodating 2,500 guests
  • Voyager Class – five ships accommodating 4,000 guests
  • Vision Class – four ships accommodating 2,400 to 2,700 guests

The oldest ship in the fleet is the Grandeur of the Seas, part of the Vision Class. She was built in 1996. The newest ship launched in January 2024 and is Icon of the Seas, the biggest ship in the world.

Read more: Royal Caribbean Ships By Age

Which to Choose?

While the size of the fleets for each cruise line is very different, it shouldn’t influence your choice of cruise line too much as this stage. 

Disney’s fleet includes ships similar to Royal’s smallest and to many of Royal’s larger ships – it’s only the Oasis Class and Icon Class that really stand out, so if you want to experience the biggest ships in the world then Royal Caribbean would be the way to go.

Both cruise lines sail to a range of destinations, although Royal Caribbean certainly has more variety – helped with the size of the fleet. Understandably, the Caribbean is the key destination for both cruise lines, though both offer a range of European cruises too.

Disney Cruise LineRoyal Caribbean
Australia & New Zealand4229
Canada & New England08
Caribbean & Bahamas43247
East Asia036
Mexico & Latin America288
Middle East & South Asia03
Pacific Northwest44
Panama Canal05
South Pacific314

Disney Cruise Line Destinations

Visitors enjoy the sun-soaked waterslides at Castaway Cay, with a musician playing steel drums under an orange umbrella on the white sandy beach.

Disney’s range of destinations is more limited than with other cruise lines, but if you want to cruise to the Caribbean or Bahamas then you certainly won’t struggle to find a date to suit you!

The cruise line has 15 embarkation ports around the world, with around half of all cruises departing from Port Canaveral – understandable considering the close proximity to Disney World, with many guests choosing a cruise and stay vacation that incorporates a cruise and a trip to the theme parks.

A limited selection of cruises are available from Southampton for UK guests.

Disney has two private resorts in the region for cruise guests, including Castaway Cay and the new Lighthouse Point, due to open in 2024.

Royal Caribbean Destinations

Aerial view of Perfect Day at CocoCay Island, showcasing the lush landscape, vibrant aqua park attractions, and a tethered yellow balloon, with a Royal Caribbean cruise ship anchored nearby.

Royal Caribbean sails from 35 embarkation ports around the world, giving guests plenty of choice when it comes to their cruise departure point. 14 of these are based in North America, while there is always a ship based in Southampton during the summer months – in 2024 it’s Anthem of the Seas, while Independence of the Seas returns to the UK for 2025.

Royal Caribbean also has private resorts, including Perfect Day at CocoCay, offering guests a wealth of fun activities to enjoy ashore.

Which to Choose?

Royal Caribbean has more variety when it comes to destinations, so if you wanted to try a cruise to the Middle East, to Asia, through the Panama Canal or to Canada & New England, then you’d want to pick Royal Caribbean.

But if you’re looking for the more popular destinations in the Caribbean and Europe, it’s a much tougher decision. Both Castaway Cay and CocoCay are excellent private resorts, so it may come down to finding a date and sailing length that suits you.

Once you’ve settled on a cruise line, one of the biggest decisions becomes which stateroom you want to book. So it’s natural that this should form part of your decision when choosing a cruise line, too.

As you’d expect, both Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean offer the ‘standard’ range of accommodation options. If you want to save money, you can choose an Inside cabin, or if you want to see the ocean you can choose an Ocean View or Balcony Stateroom, or a Suite.

One key difference is in solo rooms – Royal Caribbean has a limited selection, but you won’t find specialist solo rooms on a Disney ship. It’s not a cruise line aimed at the solo traveller. You can sail alone, but you’ll be in a regular stateroom and you’ll pay for two guests.

Let’s look at some of the specialist accommodation options on each cruise line:

Disney Cruise Line Staterooms and Suites

Split Bathroom Staterooms

Modern split bathroom design on the Disney Wish cruise ship, featuring a white toilet, vanity with sink, and mirror with illuminated borders, alongside towel racks and neutral-toned walls.

The majority of cabins on Disney cruise ships have split bathrooms – this means they have a separate toilet and shower room, rather than one bathroom with everything in. If you’re a family, you’ll know how valuable this is – being able to have a shower with your little one bursting in for a surprise toilet visit is a luxury on a cruise ship!

Magical Porthole Staterooms

Some Inside cabins on Disney cruise ships have a ‘Magical Porthole’. This is a fake porthole that has a live view of the outside of the ship, so you can at least see whether it’s daytime or not.

But even better, the screen will occasionally have character visits, such as Scuttle and Flounder from The Little Mermaid. It’s a nice touch and one that the kids will love.

Deluxe Family Rooms

Interior of a Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah on the Disney Wish, featuring a neatly made lower bed and an upper bunk bed with a ladder, by a window offering a view of the sea.

On most cruise ships, if you want to book five guests in one cabin, you’ll need to book a suite. But on Disney ships, it is possible to book a stateroom with space for five guests, so you don’t have to split your party between two connecting rooms. Worth considering when we get onto the prices later…

Concierge Staterooms & Suites

Elegantly appointed Disney Treasure Concierge Stateroom with Verandah, featuring a plush queen bed with a whimsical Tangled-themed mural overhead, refined furnishings, and a glimpse of the ocean through the verandah door.

Concierge is a premium category of staterooms and suites across the Disney fleet. You’ll get a list of extra perks, including priority boarding, free WiFi, and access to the Concierge Lounge and Concierge Sundeck. The best Concierge Tower Suites are even located in the ship’s funnel, which is very exciting!

Royal Caribbean Staterooms and Suites

Virtual Balcony Staterooms

Interior of a Virtual Balcony room on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas, equipped with a large bed, contemporary furnishings, a work desk, and a floor-to-ceiling high-definition screen simulating a real-time ocean view.

Similar to Disney, you can book an Inside room with Royal Caribbean and still get a view thanks to Virtual Balconies, which are on the Icon Class, select Oasis Class, and Quantum Class ships. These are much larger screens, taking up a wall rather than a small porthole, but you don’t get the Disney character visits, just the live view of the ocean.

Interior Balcony Staterooms

View from an interior balcony stateroom on Oasis of the Seas, featuring a cozy table and chairs setup overlooking the ship's open-air central park.

The Oasis Class and Icon Class have the option of Interior Balcony staterooms. These are balcony cabins, but rather than facing the ocean, they face in the inside of the ship, overlooking the Boardwalk or Central Park. It’s a cheaper way to enjoy a balcony, but it does mean you’re facing another balcony opposite, so there is less privacy.

AquaTheater Suites

Aqua Theater suitw on Allure of the Seas

Some of the coolest suite options on any ship, the AquaTheater Suites on Oasis-class ships have a direct view over the AquaTheater at the aft of the ship, letting you relax on your balcony with an amazing show performed by incredible acrobats each night.

Hardly cheap, these suites are also very spacious. But they aren’t the biggest and best…

Ultimate Family Accommodations

The vibrant and playful Ultimate Family Townhouse on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas, featuring a two-level suite with a slide, modern living area, colorful decorations, and large windows offering a panoramic ocean view.

Some of the Oasis-class ships, and the Icon-class ships, have either Ultimate Family Suites or Ultimate Family Townhouse accommodations. These are the best family suites at sea, including a host of features to keep kids entertained including piano staircases, slides between floors, games consoles, karaoke and a whole host more. But for £20,000 per person, per week you’d expect something special.

Which to Choose?

Both Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have great accommodation options. Royal Caribbean’s are more unique and innovative but you’ll pay an additional premium for those options – Disney’s cruises might be expensive but even a regular stateroom has a lot going for it.

Another big part of cruising is the food, and the two cruise lines offer a very different dining experience.

Disney Cruise Line Food

On a Disney cruise ship, there isn’t just one main dining restaurant. Instead, there are three themed dining rooms, and you’ll rotate between them during your cruise so that you (and all other guests) can try them all, and experience the different entertainment during them.

Some restaurants have live shows that happen around your dinner, so it’s a lot more fun and family-oriented than a typical dining room.

A vibrant performance of 'Frozen' characters in Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure on the Disney Wish cruise ship, with guests enjoying the show featuring Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf.

Your waiter will remain the same throughout, so they can offer you the best experience as they learn your preferences, and it’s a good way of improving the variety of your complimentary dining.

There are speciality restaurants you can choose too, if you prefer, but there aren’t too many on each ship. And you can always stick to the buffet if that’s more your thing.

Royal Caribbean Food

On a Royal Caribbean ship, it’s all about variety – there are so many restaurant options to choose from that you’ll likely struggle to fit them all into a single voyage, so you’re going to have to pick favourites.

There is the traditional Main Dining Room where you can either enjoy set dining or opt for My Time Dining, where you can show up whenever you prefer (though you do need to prepay tips if you want this option). There’s a buffet too, and then several casual restaurants where you can grab sandwiches or pizza.

The grandeur of the Main Dining Room aboard Liberty of the Seas, highlighted by a striking chandelier, golden pillars, and elegant, circular tables set for a fine dining experience.

But it’s the choice of speciality restaurants where Royal Caribbean outshines Disney. Whatever type of cuisine you want, you’ll likely find it on a Royal ship, though you will have to pay a set fee. 

Which to Choose?

In the simplest terms, if your priority is trying lots of different cuisines, you’ll probably find a better variety of restaurants on a Royal Caribbean ship.

But if your priority is more around making sure the kids have an amazing dining experience, they’ll probably prefer the main dining rooms of a Disney ship, with all the entertainment they come with.

It’s impossible to be bored on either a Disney or Royal Caribbean ship. Let’s look at why.

Disney Cruise Line Activities

Disney ships are packed with fun things to do for kids and adults alike. The highlight on the Triton-class ships is the AquaMouse, which is billed as the first ‘Disney Attraction at Sea’ – essentially it’s a water coaster with a story, just like the rides you’d find at a Disney park.

Other attractions include:

  • Water slides
  • Splash zones
  • Sport courts
  • Spa and salon treatments

It may not seem like a long list, but that’s because so many of the features of the ships come in the form of entertainment or as part of the kids’ clubs, covered below.

The Twist N Spout water slide on the Disney Magic cruise ship, spiraling above the pool deck under a cloudy sky, ready for vacationers seeking fun at sea.

Royal Caribbean Activities

Royal Caribbean is known for offering a huge range of activities that guests can enjoy onboard. Obviously, the bigger ships have more, but even the small ships have a lot of great things to try. Some of the attractions on a Royal Caribbean cruise include:

  • Ice skating
  • Escape rooms
  • FlowRider surfing simulators
  • Skydiving simulators
  • Rock climbing walls
  • Epic dry slides across multiple decks
  • Dodgems at sea
  • Thrill-seeking water slides
  • Zip lines
  • Bungee trampolines
  • Spa and salon treatments
A guest enjoying the FlowRider surf simulator aboard Quantum of the Seas, with onlookers observing from behind a clear viewing panel and a person suspended in the skydiving simulator above, all set against a backdrop of the ship's distinctive blue and yellow funnel.

Which to Choose?

Royal Caribbean definitely has a wider choice of activities that guests can enjoy, especially for adults. It’s home to some of the most innovative attractions at sea, although the AquaMouse on the latest Disney ships really does showcase that Disney magic touch.

If you love to unwind in the evening, you’ll want to know more about the entertainment that each cruise line offers.

Disney Cruise Line Entertainment

Disney is arguably the king of entertainment, and that shows through on the cruise ships too. The live shows at night offer amazing interpretations of your favourite Disney stories, but there’s lots of entertainment throughout the daytime too, including character meet and greets which your kids will love.

Disney Cruise Line entertainment in full swing with iconic characters Pluto, Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, and Goofy delighting the audience during a lively performance on stage.

It’s not just theatre shows at night, too. There are themed deck parties, such as Pirate Night, which will have everyone dancing along and singing sea shanties. Plus is it really a Disney holiday if the night doesn’t end with an amazing fireworks display?

Royal Caribbean Entertainment

The entertainment on Royal Caribbean is tailored more towards adults than kids, although guests of all ages should find something to enjoy. The theatre shows include some amazing Broadway musicals, including Grease, Cats, Hairspray, We Will Rock You, and Mamma Mia. 

The elegant Schooner Bar on Icon of the Seas, with its stylish circular bar, comfortable seating areas, and a grand piano set in a warmly lit, inviting atmosphere for guests to relax and socialize.

There’s also live music played in bars across the ship, and comedy for the grown-ups too.

Which to Choose?

This really comes down to who takes priority in your travelling party. The kids will absolutely love the live entertainment on a Disney cruise, throughout the day and at night, while there are more grown-up choices on a Royal Caribbean sailing, whether it’s belting out the classics of Queen and Abba or some cheeky comedy sets.

Family cruise lines such as Disney and Royal Caribbean have to cater to younger guests – and neither disappoint.

Disney Cruise Line Kids’ Facilities

Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are packed with fun activities for kids aged 3 to 12. The lab is an interactive space filled with games and experiments, while the Club offers lots of Disney-themed entertainment including live character interactions, dress-up and more.

Children engaged in play at Disney Cruise Line's themed kids' facilities, with Woody from Toy Story greeting and interacting with young guests against a playful backdrop of colorful toy blocks and slides.

Depending on your ship, kids can take part in special adventures on the Millennium Falcon, or in the Avengers Academy or Marvel Super Hero Academy, or enjoy storytime with Tinkerbell in Pixie Hollow.

Teens have their own spaces, with Edge being aimed at younger teens and Vibe offering a cooler, more grown-up space for 14 to 17-year-olds.

Royal Caribbean Kids’ Facilities

Royal Caribbean’s kids’ clubs aren’t quite as impressive as Disney’s, but your children may not notice the difference, especially if they aren’t big Disney, Marvel or Star Wars fans. There are still separate clubs for different age ranges, and different spaces such as the Adventure Science Lab, the Imagination Studio and an Adventure Theatre.

The cozy Adventure Theater on Allure of the Seas, featuring plush red seats and a large screen displaying colorful animation, providing an intimate movie experience for passengers.

Teens will love their space too, which also has games consoles and table games, with organised events helping to encourage teenagers to mingle and make new friends for the duration of their cruise.

Which to Choose?

Disney’s kids clubs are slightly better than Royal Caribbean’s just because of the themed spaces and character interactions that they can offer. If your kid is into one of the big Disney-owned franchises (and the odds are good for most families), they’ll love being immersed in these experiences. 

Yet Royal Caribbean’s facilities for younger guests are far from dull and offer plenty of engaging, educational and fun activities. Good luck tearing them away on either cruise line for family time!

Here’s how the two cruise lines compare in terms of the typical guests onboard.

Disney Cruise Line Demographic

The vast majority of guests on a Disney cruise will be families with young children – often multigenerational, as the cruises aren’t cheap and the grandparents can often help fund them.

Two cheerful children posing on the deck of a Disney Cruise ship, with costumed Pluto and Minnie Mouse characters in the background, creating a memorable vacation moment.

You will find some childless couples on a Disney cruise, if they love everything to do with Mickey Mouse and co, but it’s extremely rare to find solo passengers or friend groups.

Royal Caribbean Demographic

Royal Caribbean has quite a young demographic too, and will have similar-aged families onboard, but you’ll also find adults travelling without children on many cruises, including some older adults, especially on the smaller ships. The average age is between 30 and 50 for guests.

A family enjoying their vacation together, standing inside the glass-enclosed viewing area on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with a panoramic view of the port and city in the background.

The cost of your cruise will be one of the biggest determining factors for guests unsure on which cruise line to book. So, let’s take a look.

Disney Cruise Line Prices

A Disney cruise is a very authentic Disney experience, and that unfortunately means it comes with the premium prices you’d pay at theme parks or resort hotels owned by the same company. 

Expect to pay between £130/$165 and £240/$300 per person, per night for a cruise in the Caribbean or to Mexico, with European cruises sometimes costing even more than that, depending on the ship.

Read more: How Much is a Disney Cruise?

Royal Caribbean Prices

Royal Caribbean’s cruise prices vary greatly depending on which ship you choose. The biggest ships come with a premium, but you can still get a great deal on a mid-sized ship that still offers plenty of fun.

A 7-night Caribbean cruise on one of the biggest ships, Wonder of the Seas, will cost between £100/$130 and £130/$165 per person, per night. The Icon-class ships will be more expensive, but this is still one of the newest ships in the fleet, bigger than any Disney ship too.


Don’t miss these hot cruise offers…

The Verdict

If you’re in the lucky position of being able to afford either a Royal Caribbean or a Disney cruise, then you’ve got a tough decision to make. 

Most people will be drawn to Royal Caribbean because the cruise will be cheaper, but Disney really is magical. There are so many little touches too, and the crew go that extra mile to make you feel special – something that gets a little lost on the super-ships of Royal Caribbean.

Younger families will typically prefer a Disney cruise, but adults who aren’t Disney-mad will likely find Royal Caribbean to be more to their tastes.

Neither is “better” than the other, so if you can’t decide on a cruise line, make your choice based on the cost and the destination, and you’ll have an amazing time I’m sure.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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