Thursday, September 12, 2019

Disney Cruise Line vs Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

I know it seems like ages, but I'm finally back with the last and final portion of my Royal Caribbean Alaskan Cruise recaps (with a little twist)! When we decided to travel with Royal Caribbean on our previous cruise, I had several questions (from my Disney friends) about my thoughts on the differences between the two cruise lines.  After much time and thought, I compiled a list of differences noticed between Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line and put them together here for anyone who's on the fence about either option.

Every single time I sail Disney, I get the same exact questions -
"Wow, that's so expensive!" 
"We can cruise other lines for much cheaper!" 
"What makes Disney so worth the price tag?"

Let me preface this by saying that we immensely enjoyed our time with Royal Caribbean in Alaska and I would do it all again in a heart beat. We were also on an older ship - the Radiance of the Seas. I've never traveled with RCCL otherwise, so I'm not sure how their newer ships match up. To be fair, I'm comparing and contrasting our time on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas (2000) with our time on Disney's oldest ship (the Disney Magic - 1998) for a better comparison idea. Also to be fair, I need to disclose that we (obviously) love Disney, Disney Cruise Line, are Disney Vacation Club Members, and Gold Castaway Club Members. This was our very first experience with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Throughout the cruise though, I noticed those "little extras" added by Disney and jotted them down to remember for later. Some of the differences I noticed are silly and might make some of you roll your eyes, but it's those little differences that make me appreciate Disney Cruise Line so much more!

Room Size

I know you hear this on every cruise line compare and contrast site out there, but I can honestly say it's true. We've been on two non-Disney Cruise Line cruises (the first was Norwegian to Alaska) and yes, it's 100% true - the rooms are definitely bigger on Disney Cruise Line. To compare, we've had the smallest verandah available on DCL and still had a full size pull out couch and large bed in our room. In our verandah on RCCL, we had a large bed but a half-size pull out couch with not much room to walk between any of it once it was all made out for the kid.

Split Bathrooms/Shower-Tub Combo

Having a split bathroom is not common on other cruise lines but not having it on our RCCL cruise really made me miss it! Some staterooms (all except inside staterooms, I believe - someone please correct me if I'm wrong on this) on Disney Cruise Line offer a split bathroom idea - where you have the shower/tub/sink in one side and a potty/sink in the other side. 

The shower on this RCCL ship made me seriously want to cover my eyes with my hands like the little monkey emoji on my phone. There was no tub option - it was basically a very small half-circle in shape with a small lip at the bottom and a shower curtain. Needless to say, it was impossible not to splash water and a hot mess was made every time one of us took a shower. (Insert monkey emoji here.)

Another huge difference in the bathroom area was the shampoo/conditioner/body wash options - you receive all three plus bar soap and lotion on Disney Cruise Line. This variety of options did not exist on RCCL - we had one pump option with a body wash/shampoo combo inside, plus a bar of soap at the sink. I know it's dumb, but I missed my conditioner. Thankfully, I did bring extra!

Music in the Hallways

Ok, I can see you rolling your eyes now. Hear me out though. Walking to and from staterooms down incredibly LONG hallways can get rather boring at times. I absolutely love how Disney Cruise Line pipes themed music into their hallways, whether it's Disney music on a regular sailing or Halloween/Christmas music on a themed sailing - it always makes me walk a little lighter and brings a smile on my face!  You can roll your eyes at me now if you want to. I know this one was silly but it honestly made a noticeable difference to me.

On Demand TV

While sailing on Disney Cruise Line, I realize that you don't spend much time in your rooms, but we love to get ready for the day or unwind at night while playing a variety of Disney movies on our stateroom TV (ones we might not own or haven't seen since we were kids). Cool Runnings for the win! To be fair, I do realize that Disney owns pretty much everything in the entertainment world, but we had literally nothing to watch from our TV in our stateroom on RCCL with the except of one night - we were able to catch an Astros game.


Honestly, I felt as if dining was a high point for RCCL. The servers were just as amazing as you'd expect with Disney and the food was just as great! Although a rotational dining option was not offered, we didn't really miss it and had no problem eating in the same dining room every night of our cruise.  

Stateroom Host

We also loved our stateroom host. He was just as great as hosts we'd had on other Disney cruises and really made sure we had all we needed for our room to be comfortable during our cruise. He also took a liking to our son and loved doing the Baymax fist bump with him (which the stateroom host initiated). It was so cute and a I loved the little touch of Disney!

Pool Towel "Borrow"

Ok, honestly - what in the world is this?! Towel "borrowing" at the pool - y'all, this one seriously threw me for a loop. With this being an Alaskan Cruise, we had the opportunity to swim in the "solarium" pool which meant it was indoors and also nice and warm - a much appreciated opportunity by us all. However, in order to get back to our stateroom, we had to walk outside across the open (and very chilly) deck. On the regular, I would usually just wrap my child in a pool towel and walk him across the deck so his wet swimsuit against the cold Alaskan air wouldn't cause him to freeze. Did I do that?


Why? Because you had to "borrow" pool towels from the pool deck. They would basically swipe your card for each towel you "borrowed" and if you didn't return the towel, they would charge your room $25. Twenty five bucks. For a towel. Yes, I realize this is lazy, but I was on vacation and didn't want to have to traipse from the warm solarium pool out across the cold deck, down the elevator to my room, then back up to the cold pool deck to return a pool towel. Instead, we would "borrow" a towel to dry my kid off, then return it immediately before leaving the pool area. So he didn't freeze while walking across the outdoor pool deck, we would stick him in one of my sweatshirts to stay warm on our journey back to our room. On Disney Cruise Line, I feel as if they hand out pool towels like candy. Because they do. (Insert another eye-covered-monkey emoji here.)

Kids Clubs

Having never experienced the kids clubs on DCL, I can't compare the two, but I do know that my child enjoyed his time at the kids clubs on RCCL. He even came back with his face painted one night which completely floored me that he allowed them to do so!! Please know that the physical rooms of the kids clubs on RCCL (on our ship) do not in any way compare to the decor of the rooms of the kids clubs on DCL (the Magic).  To compare to DCL, the kids clubs rooms on our RCCL ship reminded me of a Mother's Day Out or something similar. Honestly though, it was the counselors and the activities that made the RCCL kids clubs so enjoyable for our son. The use of the kids clubs are also included in the cost of your cruise on both DCL and RCCL, but I do know from reading up on it that the hours of the kids clubs on DCL are more readily available over RCCL. Also, the counselors names on our RCCL ship were those of fairy tale characters. Our son's favorite counselor was named Moana. We seriously thought that was her real name until we saw another one named Rapunzel! :)

Shore Excursions

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore was a legit statement I leaned over and told Jason while trying to find our tour group in Juneau.

For every excursion you book (on both DCL and RCCL), you are given a ticket in your stateroom with your excursion information - where to meet, what time, etc. Once you arrive at your designated location on the ship, you are given a sticker to wear and this is where the differences begin. On Disney Cruise Line, you are usually ushered to a waiting area with a group of people. You have a crew member as a group leader who carries a paddle with the same logo as the sticker you are wearing on your shirt. You are walked out to your meeting area in whatever port you're docked in and basically taken straight to your excursion tour guide. On RCCL, we arrived at our meeting location were each given a sticker, then told to basically "go meet your group at the pier". This meant walking down to the first or second deck by ourselves, exiting the ship on our own, walking down the pier and off to wherever we saw a group of people congregating. At those groups, they usually had a few tour guides holding signs that were supposed to match the sticker you were wearing. Well, on our "Toto" occasion, there was no such match. After asking, the tour guide said "oh yeah, you're with me..."

For someone who has no clue where in the world they are at (which applies to most of us on cruises we've never taken before), telling someone to "meet at the pier" can be incredibly confusing and frustrating. Being on vacation also means that I like to take the frustration out of my trip to simply relax and enjoy. By seriously walking through every step with you, I feel as if DCL definitely takes that unknown out of the equation here and leaves travelers with less opportunities for frustration.

Room Service/Soda

On RCCL, room service is available at no extra charge for continental breakfast only. On DCL, you can order room service pretty much 24 hours a day and almost anything you'd like to eat. This didn't make a huge difference for us as breakfast is typically the only meal we order room service for anyway, but it is a difference nonetheless. Also, sodas (aka "cokes" as we call them here in the south) are included on Disney Cruise Line - they are not on RCCL (although tea, lemonade, and coffee are included in your initial cruise package). Drink package options are available for purchase on RCCL for sodas, specialty coffee, alcohol, etc.

Grand Entrance

Here's my final "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore" moment. When you arrive at then entrance of your ship on Disney Cruise Line, I feel as if everyone is excited to see you - there's excitement in the air and genuine smiles on the faces of the crew members welcoming you onto the ship. Also, you are greeted with a "grand" entrance that I won't spoil for you if you've never sailed DCL.

Walking onto our RCCL ship was a totally different experience and it seriously made me giggle. No, I didn't expect pomp and circumstance or any kind of crazy welcome, but I wasn't prepared for this one. We were basically ushered onto the ship and into a tight hallway where solicitors were lined on each side, attempting to sell drink packages, spa packages, dining packages, water packages, the list goes on. Welcome to the ship, indeed! (Where's that monkey emoji?)

I will mention again that we enjoyed our time with Royal Caribbean and loved sharing this entire experience with our family.

Did any of these things mentioned above make me miss Disney Cruise Line?
Yes, some of it did.

Did it take away from our cruise?
No. We still had a blast!

Would I sail Royal Caribbean again in the future?
If the circumstance and situation was applicable, yes I would.

Would I choose RCCL over DCL in the future if given an option?
 No. I would definitely choose Disney Cruise Line if it's a feasible option.

Do I think Disney is worth the extra cost?
In most situations, yes. For Alaska and the cost between the two cruise options (several thousands of dollars)? Not for us. For some, yes...but not for us and this cruise.

I had a friend give a bit of good advice to me before we cruised - when you're cruising with a new line that you aren't used to, don't set your expectations to high. Go in with an open mind and see what you think!  (This advice was honestly the best advice we could have been given.)

For recaps from our 7 night Alaskan cruise on board the Radiance of the Seas, check out these links below:
Alaskan Cruise: Travel Day & Boarding the Ship [Part 1] & VLOG
Alaskan Cruise: At Sea Day & Ketchikan [Part 2] & VLOG
Alaskan Cruise: Icy Straight Point [Part 3] & VLOG (Icy Straight Point & Juneau)
Alaskan Cruise: Juneau & Whale Watching [Part 4]
Alaskan Cruise: Skagway & A Musher's Camp [Part 5] & VLOG
Alaskan Cruise: Hubbard Glacier [Part 6] & VLOG
Alaskan Cruise: Seward and Anchorage [Part 7] & VLOG

I hope this has helped any of you who are on the fence about deciding between cruise lines! :) Send an email my way or feel free to message me if you have any questions!


  1. I've never gone on a cruise and appreciate this post so much because someday it'll happen, I'm sure. Question: Objectively, do you thing an adult who is just fine with Disney (like not over the top as one might be with, say, Universal Studios, LOL), and who doesn't have children along for the ride, enjoy a Disney cruise? Is there enough stuff geared toward adults? And are there adult-only areas on board? I realize it's a DISNEY cruise, hence I would expect there to be a ton of kids, but can one not always be around them?

    1. Absolutely!! Disney makes sure to have plenty of adult on focused activities and adult only areas (no kids after 9 p.m.). Also, there's an adult only pool as well as an adult only coffee bar!

    2. For the record, the adult only coffee bar and adult only pool are that way all day long, not just beginning at 9 p.m.! :)

    3. Oh yes, and you'll find several excursion options in many of the ports that are adult-only as well!

      Ok, I think that's all! :)

    4. Thanks! All of this is great to know. :)


Blog Archive

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...