Why Does Disney a Cruise Cost So Much?

That is a great question. It’s so great, it’s one of my most frequently asked questions (Note to self: Write FAQ). Travel is a big investment. No matter where you go there will be significant costs involved. You want to make sure that your hard-earned money is well-spent. So let’s take a look at Disney Cruise Line and see if we can figure out why it costs so much.

 

In fact, if you Google

“Why Does Disney Cr”

and stop there, Google finishes your question for you.

“Why Does Disney Cruise Cost So Much?”

(I know there should be an a, but Google is as Google does.)

Why DCL Costs So Much: Supply and Demand

Disney Cruise Line operates a fleet of four ships. That’s all. DCL has ordered three new ships to launch in 2021, 2022 and 2023, but that is still several years away.

In comparison:

  • Carnival Cruise Line: 25 ships (with 4 being added in the next 5 years)
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Line: 22 ships (in 7 classes with more coming)
  • Norwegian Cruise Line: 17 (plus the Bliss to launch in April 2018)

Disney is a relatively small cruise line. On any given day, Disney Cruise Line is home to about 12,000 guests. For comparison, the estimated average park attendance at Magic Kingdom alone is close to 60,000 guests per day.

And the Disney ships sail pretty darn full. On several cruises I have seen the sign that reads something like “Captain Mickey is sailing with a full ship. No Upgrades available.”

With only space for 12,000 guests, those spots are in demand.

High Demand + Limited Inventory = Higher Prices

I have also been asked if I expect fares to go down once the new ships are launched. After all, these three ships will double the current guest capacity. However no one likes my answer.

No, I don’t expect any fares to go down. The new ships will be new and in demand, and let’s face it, we love the current ships. It’s not like a voyage on those is a consolation prize. It’s a first-class vacation. So, don’t wait to sail thinking prices will go down in 5 year’s time.

What You Get for Your Money

I am a firm believer in “You Get What You Pay For.” Disney Cruise Line promises first-class service to all guests – even those in the least expensive Cat 11C staterooms. DCL guest enjoy all of the following at no extra charge:

  • staterooms that are about 25% larger than counterparts on other cruise lines.
  • housekeeping twice a day (that is 2 times, yes 2!)
  • Broadway-style shows starring favorite Disney characters (no seat reservations required).
  • Speaking of characters… lots and lots of character meet and greets with lines way shorter than at the land parks.
  • Kids Clubs!!! If they are open, your kids (ages 3+) are welcome. Most cruise lines begin charging for late night care around 9:00 or 10:00PM. DCL kids clubs are complementary no matter when your kids are there – and no advance reservations are required. (Note: The “it’s a small world nursery” does require reservations and is $9 per hour.
  • 24-hour beverage stations on the pool deck – which include soda! No need to buy a soda package.
  • Of course, all meals in the Main Dining Rooms. Each ship has three MDRs that you will visit on a predetermined schedule (or rotation). Meals at Cabanas, poolside dining locations and 24/7 room service are also included at no extra charge.
  • And my ultimate favorite inclusion is a day at Disney Castaway Cay on most Bahamian and Caribbean voyages.

What is included in the cost of a Disney Cruise?

I know there is more, but that is a pretty good list. Visit What is Included in the Cost of a Disney Cruise to see it all.

Is a Disney Cruise More Expensive than a Walt Disney World Vacation

Y’all are probably thinking “Of course it’s more expensive to cruise,” but that is not always the case. Let’s take a look… My favorite fictitious family of 4 wants to go on vacation. This family consists of

  • 2 adults
  • 2 children (ages 8 and 11)

I chose the ages of the kids intentionally. At Disney destinations, 10-year-olds are magically “adults” when it comes to pricing structure. We aren’t fooled. We know 10-year-olds aren’t adults. I wanted to price a family with a child on each side of that crazy age divide.

This Fictitious Family (as they are now called) either want to travel in June or October, so let’s see what’s available and price it!

To ensure parity between the 2 vacations, I like to think of stateroom and resort categories like this

  • Standard Inside Staterooms = Value Resorts
  • Deluxe Oceanview Staterooms (porthole) = Moderate Resorts
  • Deluxe Oceanview Staterooms w/ Verandah = Deluxe Resorts

And since Disney Cruise Line takes care of all of your meals and entertainment, for the Walt Disney World vacation, I priced the Disney Dining Plan which includes 1 Quick Service meal, 1 Table Service Meal and 2 Snacks per person per night of their stay. I also included 6-Day Park Hopper+ tickets which allows access to water parks and more.

June 2018

Disney Cruise Line 

7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise from Port Canaveral on the Disney Fantasy. This cruise departs on June 16, 2018.

  • Standard Inside Stateroom (11A): $8,609
  • Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom/Porthole (9A): $8,988
  • Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah (5A): $9,701

Walt Disney World

7-Night Vacation with 6-Day Park Hopper+ tickets and the Disney Dining Plan, check in June 16, 2018.

  • Value – All Star Sports (Standard Room): $5,125
  • Moderate – Port Orleans Riverside (Pool View): $6,107
  • Deluxe – Animal Kingdom Lodge (Savannah View): $8,330

In this scenario, Walt Disney World is clearly the cost winner, and given that Walt Disney World offers discounts that could shave a few hundred dollars off these prices, WDW is the clear choice if budget is your main concern.

So let’s look at October…

October 2018

Disney Cruise Line

7-Night Halloween on the High Seas Eastern Caribbean Cruise from Port Canaveral on the Disney Fantasy. This cruise departs on October 20, 2018.

  • Standard Inside Stateroom (11A): $5,396
  • Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom/Porthole (9A): $5,466
  • Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah (5A): $6,124

Walt Disney World

7-Night Vacation with 6-Day Park Hopper+ tickets and the Disney Dining Plan, check in June 16, 2018.

  • Value – All Star Sports (Standard Room): $5,013
  • Moderate – Port Orleans Riverside (Pool View): $6,081
  • Deluxe – Animal Kingdom Lodge (Savannah View): $8,141

In the October scenarios, WDW only wins if you stay at a Value Resort. Otherwise Disney Cruise Line is the better vacation value.

Add the crowd control created by Disney Cruise Line’s capacity, and I think DCL is the winner any time of year… but I am admittedly biased, and I do not apologize for it.

Disney Yearly Cost Increases

Each year the cost of a Disney vacation increases. It doesn’t matter if you prefer Disneyland, Walt Disney World or Disney Cruise Line. Expect increases. However, with Disney Cruise Line, there is a way to mitigate those increases.

~ BOOK EARLY ~

Disney ticket price increases happen every year – pretty predictably. With Disney Cruise Line’s dynamic pricing structure, guests are rewarded for booking early.

Let’s look at that June 2018 cruise again. (I am writing this in March, which is about 90 days prior to departure.) And let’s compare that with the same cruise leaving one year later which is 15 months away from print time.

If given enough lead time, the 2019 cruise costs less than the 2018 cruise. But don’t let that fool you. Disney Cruise Line’s dynamic pricing, means that will change.

DYNAMIC = CHANGING

Right now, the June 2018 cruise is pretty full. Which means if you want one of the remaining staterooms, you will pay more for it.

However the June 2019 cruise hasn’t had the opportunity to fill up, so the available staterooms are available at the lowest cost. Fast forward one more year, and the remaining rooms will undoubtedly cost way more.

The Costs Involved: The Whole Picture

While I don’t like mentioning it, the costs involved don’t stop at fare. Don’t forget excursions, gratuities and onboard purchases. Also, you have to consider cost to travel to the port, overnight stays if necessary, costs to ride to or park at the port.

You will incur costs like these for all vacations, so keep them in mind when creating your travel budget.

Comparing DCL to Other Cruise Lines

This is the hardest part. Simply stated there are so few apples-to-apples ways to compare at Disney Cruise Line vacation to other cruise lines. What I can tell you is that families who love Disney Cruise Line also tend to enjoy Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Lines most.

 

Is Disney Cruise Line Worth It?

I certainly think so. I believe the immersive experience, the service, the storytelling and the Disney way of traveling is worth the cost. I could choose almost any cruise line and any vacation destination, and I keep coming back to Disney Cruise Line for a reason. It is a fantastic vacation.

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Why Does a Disney Cruise Cost So Much | DCL Prep School

Further Reading

What is included in the cost of a Disney Cruise? Should You Use a Travel Agent to Book Your Cruise? | DCL Prep School