Cruise Disney Travel

Disney Cruise vs. Disney World Vacation: 12 Ways A Disney Cruise is Better

By
on
September 3, 2019

One of the questions that I get the most as a family travel blogger is, “Which is better, a Disney Cruise vs. Disney World vacation?”

Friends and family alike are anxious to know my thoughts on comparing these two epic family vacations.

Being that they are both popular and somewhat spendy vacation options, it is truly worth analyzing if a Disney Cruise vs. Disney World vacation is a better choice for you and your family.

Though both are absolutely amazing, I will share my opinions on the 12 reasons why my family and I feel that a Disney Cruise is better than a Disney World vacation.

Having done both a 7-night Disney Cruise on the Disney Fantasy and a 6-night Disney World vacation in Orlando, we came up with the following reasons why we prefer cruising with Disney Cruise versus a Disney World vacation to the parks.

With that said, every family has their own ideas and opinions when it comes to their ‘favorites’. Everyone also has expectations of what they want to see and do, as well as what pace they prefer to travel at.

Disney Cruise vs. Disney World Vacation: Which Should You Choose?

Disney Cruise and Disney World Vacation, tips on why a Disney Cruise is better for your family, featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan.
Family photo with Mickey Mouse on our Disney Cruise

1. Less planning and strategy involved on a Disney Cruise vs. Disney World vacation.

First and foremost, a Disney Cruise Line vacation requires far less planning and strategy than preparing for a Disney theme park vacation. To give you an idea as to why this is, consider these things.

There are many steps required in planning a Disney World vacation.

First, you need to decide how much time you have, which parks you are going to visit, and where you are going to stay.

Next, one must consider Park Hopper options, FastPass+ considerations, and whether or not you are going to purchase a Disney dining plan.

Once there, you need to have a transportation plan, as well as a thought-out park touring plan for each of the 4 Disney World theme parks.

Preparing a Disney day bag and executing your daily itinerary are the last pieces to ensuring the magic.

Planning a Disney Cruise is much easier.

Once you have decided on how much time you have and where you would like to go, make your Disney Cruise reservation online. Also, pre-book shore excursions and arrange for transportation to and from the cruise terminal.

Upon consulting these reliable cruise packing lists, you’ll be able to plan and pack for your excursion at sea.

Then, simply board the ship and enjoy it!

Your stateroom, meals, and activities are all scheduled, included, and found right on-board the ship.

2. Relax more on a Disney Cruise.

Hands-down when comparing a Disney Cruise vs. Disney World, cruising much more relaxing.

As mentioned above, there is a significant amount of strategy involved in touring the Disney parks.

The reason for this is that you want to maximize your time in the parks with a plan that requires the least amount of walking and time spent standing in lines.

On a Disney Cruise, however, everything is planned for you.

There are set dining times, set activity times, and set showtimes. Upon deciding what it is that you want to do, the only thing required is to simply show up and have fun!

You can easily spend time in your stateroom between activities to nap and/or snack on free room service.

Likewise, spend time lounging on one of the many deck chairs while soaking up the sun.

Need a break from the kids?

The free kids club, adult-only pool decks and lounges, and adult-only restaurants will give you that desired break and relaxation.

On our 7-night Disney Fantasy cruise, we did all of this and more!

For these reasons and more, we feel that overall, cruises are perfect for families!

Get all of the details on how to choose between a Disney Crurise vs. Disney World vacation!  Explore the differences of each and the rationale why Top U.S. family travel blog Travel With A Plan feels that a Disney Cruise ROCKS!  #disneycruisevsdisneyworld #disneyworldvsdisneycruise#disneyvacationplanning#disneycruisetips#disneyworldtips

3. Free Kids Club on a Disney Cruise

As mentioned, one of the biggest benefits of a Disney Cruise vs. Disney World vacation is the availability of several free Kids Clubs onboard.

Staffed by trained Disney castmates, the themed youth clubs provide quality care, unmatched convenience, and loads of fun for kids!

Children may be dropped off to experience age-appropriate games and activities, while adults are left to venture, relax, or dine on their own.

On select days, children are welcome to enjoy lunch and dinner at Disney’s Oceaneer Club—especially convenient for parents looking for some alone time at Remy or Palo.

  • “it’s a small world” nursery: Ages 3 months – 3 years-old (small fee applies)
  • Disney’s Oceaneer Lab: 3 – 12 years-old
  • Disney’s Oceaneer Club: 3 – 12 years-old
  • Edge: 11 – 14 years-old
  • Vibe: 14 – 17 years-old

4. Build Relationships on a Disney Cruise vs. Disney World Vacation.

Due to its laid back atmosphere, fewer crowds, and less hustle and bustle getting from place to place, spending larger amounts of quality family time together is more likely on a Disney Cruise vs. a Disney World vacation.

Likewise, if traveling with a group, it is also easier to stick and spend time together on a cruise ship, versus navigating throughout the massive Disney theme parks.

Next, Disney Cruise rotational dining allows you to have the same server each night at dinner which means that the waitstaff gets to know your kids, your drink orders, allergies, etc.

Also, you will get to know the names and faces of other Disney crew staff members as they work on the ship throughout the duration of your entire cruise.

Last, another fun tradition on Disney Cruise Line is mingling with fellow passengers in the “Fish Extenders” program.

A fish extender is something that you hang on the outside of your stateroom door to serve as a “mailbox”. Then, other passengers like you sign up to participate in a fun exchange and deliver gifts to each other’s fish extenders throughout the cruise.

As you can see, there is a big focus on relationship building when embarking on a Disney Cruise! In a sense, it is a more ‘homey’ feel, versus a ‘hugeness’ feel when it comes to Disney Cruise vs. Disney World.

5. Meals are Included and are All You Can Eat on a Disney Cruise.

With the exclusion of adult-only restaurants, all meals and non-alcoholic drinks are included in your Disney Cruise fare.

What this means is not having to ponder the menu for affordable meal choices or worry about carrying cash or a credit card around to pay for meals.

In addition, your children and teens will not need to keep bugging you for dollar bills!

There is nothing complicated about the Disney Cruise dining experience and the only reservation to adhere to is for dinner.

Enjoy all-you-can-eat buffets and specialty dining experiences where you are actually encouraged to try anything and everything on the menu.

Unlimited soda fountain stations and soft-serve ice cream machines are another huge bonus that is unique to a Disney Cruise vs. Disney World vacation. Our kids loved the unlimited access to these special treats.

6. Free Room Service on your Disney Cruise.

A major perk of Disney Cruise Line is having accessibility to free, and unlimited room service.

Want breakfast in bed? No problem!

Want a bedtime snack? It’s covered.

The perks and conveniences of being able to order from room service menu for no additional charge is such an added bonus when looking to truly ‘vacation’!

The kids get a kick out of ordering things like hot cocoa and Mickey ice cream bars, whereas I love having my morning coffee arrive as soon as I wake up.

7. Evening shows on a Disney Cruise vs. Disney World.

The evening shows on the Disney Cruise Line are 100% top notch! They are of high production quality and immense entertainment value.

Yes, Disney World has amazing evening shows as well.

Unfortunately, due to the massive crowds that attend these shows, guests must arrive early, plan ahead to secure seating, and even pay (high) additional costs to sit in premium viewing areas.

With designated showtimes, you never have to worry about finding a seat at a Disney Cruise evening show!

Plan to be entertained each and every night by getting your fill of classic Disney camaraderie.

The shows on Disney Cruise vs. Disney World are entirely different, yet still, pack in a whole lot of family fun!

Disney Cruise and Disney World Vacation, tips on why a Disney Cruise is better for your family, featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan.
Character meet and greets, Disney Cruise vs. Disney World

8. Character Meet and Greets on a Disney Cruise.

When comparing a Disney Cruise vs. Disney World, the feasibility of character meet and greets on a Disney Cruise takes the cake!

Though Disney World offers a much wider array of characters in its shows, meet-and-greets, and character meals, the interactions are much more personal and accessible on a Disney Cruise.

No need to walk for hours or stand in long lines in anticipation of a Disney character meet and greet on a Disney Cruise.

Beyond the many scheduled character meet-and-greets on the ship, your family is likely to randomly run into a character or two on the pool deck, in the kids’ clubs, or even on Castaway Cay, Disney’s private Bahamian island.

The Disney characters are literally everywhere, and hugs and handshakes with your favorite characters are commonplace.

Disney Cruise and Disney World Vacation, tips on why a Disney Cruise is better for your family, featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan: Disney Cruise Grand Cayman
Grand Cayman shore excursion at Sting Ray City

9. Disney Cruise Shore Excursions.

With Disney Cruise Line’s four ships departing from various ports in the United States, they travel to places like the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, and Europe.

In other words, within one family vacation, you can literally see several different destinations, islands, and countries.

Disney Cruises allow you to see and experience these destinations via their perfectly executed shore excursions.

Unlike a Disney World vacation where you are confined to the parks and other nearby non-Disney experiences, Disney Cruising allows you go get up-close-and-personal with multiple different destinations.

10. Less Walking on a Disney Cruise.

For those with limited mobility, small children who may resist strollers, or anyone wanting to simply walk around less, choosing a Disney Cruise vs. Disney World vacation is the better choice.

Though the Disney Cruise ships are indeed massive, the walking required is limited and condensed to the confines of the ship itself. Also, your stateroom is always just a quick elevator ride away in case someone needs to head up early for a nap.

With Disney World being comprised of four theme parks, two water parks, and Disney Springs, the list of things to see and do is endless.

In order to check everything off your list, you can expect a fast-paced trip in which you attempt to cover a lot of ground.

Because of this, expect tired and sore feet at the end of the day as you will literally be walking for miles.

11. Disney Cruise ‘Daily Navigator‘.

Unlike at Disney World where it can become difficult to keep track of everything that is going on, Disney Cruise Line publishes a Daily Navigator each and every day of your cruise.

Though both Disney experiences have apps outlining daily activities, there is something so sweet and traditional about this hand-held paper copy of events.

The Daily Navigator list of activities and events is easily portable, does not require wifi, and will never run low battery power.

It is delivered to your stateroom each evening during turndown service. Afterward, give the kids a copy and let them highlight the events that interest them.

Stick it in your beach bag or day bag and refer to it often when seeking out your next adventure!

12. Perks for Returning Disney Cruisers.

Once you have completed your first cruise, you are automatically a loyalty member.

The Castaway Club has three levels based on the number of cruises sailed: Silver, Gold, and Platinum.  Members have access to book the newest itineraries before the general public. They also have early access to planning and booking activities online.

If you’re like us and have such an amazing time on your first Disney cruise that you decide to book again, these are welcomed and appreciated benefits.

Being rewarded as a return customer is definitely a bonus when cruising with Disney.

Disney Cruise and Disney World Vacation, tips on why a Disney Cruise is better for your family, featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan: photo with car

Conclusion on Disney Cruise vs. Disney World Vacation: Which is Best?

Honestly, both a Disney Cruise and Disney World theme park vacation are notably epic and bucket-list worthy.

You can’t go wrong with either.

Both provide incredibly different experiences. They really aren’t even in the same category of vacation types except for the fact that they are both Disney-related.

Both experiences provide the same amazing top-notch Disney service, cleanliness, and ambiance. The high degree of excellence in any Disney vacation is consistent among the brand.

Our #1 recommendation is to do both: A Disney Cruise AND a Walt Disney World Vacation. If we had to pick one, however, we would choose a Disney Cruise over the WDW theme parks.

If you prefer rides, action, and a plethora of activities and options, perhaps Disney World suits you better?

Let me know in the comments if you think a Disney Cruise vs. Disney World vacation is a better choice?


As a member of our Travel With A Plan family, click through the following articles for exclusive tips, checklists, and touring plans for your Disney World vacation or Disney Cruise!

Disney Cruise Planning:

Disney World Touring Plans:

Disney World Ride & FastPass+ Tips:

Disney World Planning Tips:

Disney World Cost:

*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

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Get all of the details on how to choose between a Disney Crurise vs. Disney World vacation!  Explore the differences of each and the rationale why Top U.S. family travel blog Travel With A Plan feels that a Disney Cruise ROCKS!  #disneycruisevsdisneyworld #disneyworldvsdisneycruise#disneyvacationplanning#disneycruisetips#disneyworldtips
Disney Cruise and Disney World Vacation, tips on why a Disney Cruise is better for your family, featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan.
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12 Comments
  1. Reply

    Nancy

    November 4, 2019

    I’ve heard good thing about Disney Cruises, but didn’t realize there are some many extra benefits e.g complimentary room service!

    • Reply

      Jen

      November 5, 2019

      Yes! …A super fun perk! Thanks for reading!

  2. Reply

    Harmony, Momma To Go

    November 4, 2019

    I agree – esp if you are traveling to Port Canveral/Orlando from further way – do both! i love cruising, but have not been on DCL yet, but can see how its much easier to plan than a WDW trip. Of course if you like the beach, cruise is better, if you like the rides and all that – do the theme park!

    • Reply

      Jen

      November 4, 2019

      Great thoughts!!!

  3. Reply

    Margie

    November 3, 2019

    I agree 100% that a Disney Cruise is better than a Disney World vacation! The characters are so accessible, the food is better, the entertainment is non-stop, and nothing beats the kids’ club!

  4. Reply

    Sarah

    November 3, 2019

    I really enjoyed this post as it was not something I had really thought about before. But I have to admit that you had me at the beginning – with the fact that the cruise requires so much less planning. Our Disney trip seemed to require a degree in Disney studies – I can see why this appealed (and for all the other reasons too!)

    • Reply

      Jen

      November 3, 2019

      Ah, thanks! That is great feedback! You’re totally right about needing a ‘degree in Disney’ for the parks 🙂

  5. Reply

    Karen

    September 10, 2019

    Well you’ve convinced me! A Disney World holiday can be really quite stressful, I love that the cruise option gives you the chance to relax.

    • Reply

      Jen

      September 29, 2019

      Yes! It was so relaxing, yet fun filled at the same time. We desperately want to do another one!

  6. Reply

    Eric

    September 9, 2019

    My wife and I have been planning a DisneyWorld trip in the next coming years but after reading your article, we may want to do a cruise. With the new ship going to New Orleans, it maybe worth a look.

    • Reply

      Jen

      September 29, 2019

      Both vacations are amazing! For us, it was the cruise hands-down 🙂

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Hi, I'm Jen - founder of the award-winning travel blog, Travel With A Plan! I help families plan fun & fulfilling family vacations by sharing our exact itineraries and "best things to do" lists to popular US vacation spots. Take the stress out of planning a family vacation by using our detailed destination guides and ultra-convenient packing lists to help you travel better. We'll show you how hassle-free family travel is possible - when you travel with a plan!

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