Disney Cruise Line has become my go to cruise line for the superb attention to detail and overall guest experience. That being said, I have had excellent experiences on other cruise lines as well. In the past few months I have traveled aboard both Carnival Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line ships. I sailed on the Disney Magic in March and the Carnival Victory in July of this year. Both have admirable qualities, but I would have to say that Disney is my personal favorite. I like Carnival for their value for the price and the amount of options they have with ships and sailings, but the overall experience you get with Disney is the best in the industry.
Comparing Cruise Line Experiences
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The all-inclusive dining experience in general is one of my favorite things about cruising. I was remarkably impressed with my dining experience on my last sailing on the Disney Magic. Disney offers rotational dining for dinner where you visit a different themed restaurant each night and your wait staff travel with you. DCL also offers many buffet breakfast and lunch options and room service. Palo, on all ships, and Remy, on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, offer an elegant adult only experience.
Over recent years I have seen a drastic improvement in dining on other cruise lines as well. Carnival Cruise Line now offers Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, a Mexican grill, and a steakhouse on multiple ships. They also feature the Green Eggs and Ham character breakfast (for a nominal fee) on select sailings. I tried this and was actually very impressed with the decorations, character experiences and food. On my last Carnival Cruise aboard the Carnival Victory I was very satisfied with the food in the main dining room but I found their buffet very lacking in variety and limited options.
Royal Caribbean has brought many signature restaurants to their fleet as well. One downside I’ve noticed recently is that these added restaurants are not available on all ships. That being said, if you don’t choose carefully when selecting a ship, you could be on a ship that doesn’t offer nearly as many dining options and choices could be limited.
It’s difficult to find words to describe how remarkable the entertainment is aboard a Disney cruise ship. From starting the cruise right with the Sail Away Deck Party to the remarkable main stage productions, DCL really excels in entertainment suitable for all. Disney also shows newly released Disney movies, which are often still in theaters.
Perhaps in response, other cruise lines have really stepped it up with entertainment offerings. Royal Caribbean has brought full Broadway musicals to sea, which no other cruise line has done before. On my last Carnival Cruise, I was surprised with the amount of deck parties that have been added. Entertainment has never been my favorite aspect of a Carnival cruise but it has definitely come a long way.
Ultimately it is easy to say Disney definitely offers more entertainment of a higher quality from the main stage shows, to continuous character greetings, to pirate night deck shows with fireworks at sea. You won’t find this kind of entertainment with any other cruise line.
Adult activities and Night Life
Disney Cruise Line is fantastic for providing a family friendly environment while still having tons of adult options. Carnival definitely has plenty of options for kids and adults, but some sailings and environments may have a party ship like environment that isn’t always best for young children.
Disney Cruise Line does not have casinos on any of the ships which can be disappointing for some, however this does help create a more family friendly environment.
If you are focused on adult nightlife activities, Carnival is definitively going to offer more. They offer a significant number of bars, nightclubs and casinos. I would say Carnival does also offer more adult only comedy as well. As far as adult pool areas, Disney and Carnival both do a great job at keeping up an adult only pool area.
Crew Member Service
Crew members offering excellent service is something I’ve found is pretty straight forward across the cruise line industry. You really will receive excellent service on any cruise. That being said, I have found that Disney Cruise Line Guest Services team has been known to be more accommodating to special requests.
Ships and Itineraries
When it comes to ports of departure, other cruise lines offer more, making it easy to sail out of multiple ports on the east and Gulf coasts. Currently Disney only has four ships in the fleet, which naturally makes for fewer departure ports. The other major cruise lines sailing out of the United States definitely offer more itineraries as Norwegian Cruise Line has 14 ships, and Carnival and Royal Caribbean both have 25 ships.
That being said, the other cruise lines definitely have more options as far as itineraries go, which can give more options as far a price for restrictive dates. Carnival offers sailings out of smaller ports such as Mobile, Alabama and Charleston, South Carolina which might offer some a closer distance to travel and offer a weekend cruise option. Norwegian and Royal Caribbean offer the most international itineraries with sailings across the globe.
Disney offers many special itineraries for certain sailings such as Halloween on the High Seas, Very Merrytime Cruises, and Star Wars at Sea. Carnival recently has started to offer Carnival Live cruises where the feature a special guest performer as a ticketed concert on that particular cruise.
Extra Magic and Overall Ship Experience
Some of my absolute favorite aspect of a Disney Cruise are the small details. All of the ships in the Disney fleet are up kept fantastically. The ships are exceptionally clean and decorated beautifully. Overall I would say that Disney does the absolute best in ship maintenance and cleanliness at all times. I absolutely love character interactions and Disney Cruise ships are perfect for that. Carnival has recently added Dr. Seuss characters to select sailings which is definitely a neat addition, but he little details I’ve found within a Disney ship definitely help set it apart for me.
Overall, when it comes to cruising, there are so many options out there offering numerous specific benefits to each and every ship. Cruising in general is one of my absolute favorite ways to vacation but I ultimately feel that the higher price you pay with Disney Cruise Line is more than justifiable and that they truly offer something for everyone.
About Isaac Joseph: Isaac is a college student majoring in Business Management. In addition to his travels at sea, Isaac and his friends and family enjoy spending time in at the Walt Disney World Resort. Follow Isaac’s travels on Instagram ~ @Isaac.Joseph