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The Differences Between Disney Cruise Line and Other Cruise Lines

Now that Cruising is returning to normal, I have been quoting a lot of family cruise vacations. One of the top questions I get asked is, what is the difference between Disney Cruise Line and other Cruise Lines. Why are Disney Cruises so much more expensive? Well, there is some math behind that. I know I'm not too fond of math, but we will have to do some to show you the benefits of booking a Disney Cruise.


One of the biggest differences that I see is how you book. Of course, you can book any cruise line with one of our fabulous Story Guides. There are just some differences in how much the deposit is and cancellation penalties. Disney Cruise Line requires a 20% deposit on the total of the cruise at the time of booking, and it doesn't matter the length of the cruise. Yes, it is more money upfront, but all deposits are refundable up to a certain date. Sometimes, you can get lucky, and they will have a 50% off deposit promotion.

Other cruise lines charge you a per-person deposit, depending on the cruise's length. They also can have the option of a refundable or non-refundable deposit. I typically see that the refundable deposit is a little more than the non-refundable one. Yes, I have booked both refundable and non-refundable for myself, but I don't usually book non-refundable because if something happens and I can't go, I want my money back.

Onboard Experience

Being onboard a ship can be one of the most important factors when picking which cruise you want to book. Even picking which Disney ship you want to book can be a toss-up. There are some definite differences in cruise ships on each cruise line.

Beverage Packages

There is not a beverage package per se on the Disney Cruise line like on other cruise lines. There is a reason for that. All Soft drinks, coffee, tea, milk, juice, and tap water are included in the price of the cruise. If you price these out on other cruise lines can add up. For example, the Classic Soda Package on Royal Caribbean will cost between $12-$15 per person per day. Here is where that math comes in. Say, I'm on a 7-night cruise with my three teenagers and my adult daughter, that is under 21. The rate of my sailing for that package is $14 per person. That would be an additional $392 on top of what I have already paid for the cruise portion.

Disney does offer a beer package and two wine packages. You will have to pay a la carte if you want mixed drinks, whiskey, or hard liquor. Most other cruise lines have a beverage package where you can pay a certain amount daily, and almost all drinks are included. Disney does have the best policies on bringing beer and wine onboard. They allow you to bring beer and wine on board at each port, so you can purchase local wine or beer to drink while onboard. Most other cruise lines only allow you to bring one or two bottles of wine at the beginning of the cruise.


Most cruise ships have one or two main dining rooms and a few dining venues that are not included in the cruise price. Disney is the only cruise line I know of that has rotational dining. Disney Cruise Line has three on every ship. If you are taking a 7-day cruise, you will have to each at each of the three more than once, unless you decide to eat at one of the specialty restaurants onboard or at the buffet.

These three dining rooms are not like regular dining rooms on most ships. These are themed dining rooms; some even have a dinner show while eating. The other great thing about this rotational dining is that your servers stay with you the whole cruise. You get to know them, and they will get to know your likes and dislikes. They even work other areas of the ship when we are docked at port. Our server figured out that our boys loved bread, so he made sure he brought a basket of bread to the table as soon as we sat down. When we would see our server, he would always stop us and ask what we were up to that day, and if we didn't have any of the kids with us, he would ask where they were.


On a Disney Cruise, you would expect to see Disney characters, but that isn't all the entertainment they offer. You can watch first-run movies (these movies are in theaters on land) and some fantastic stage shows. Yes, these shows are based on Disney movies or plays such as Beauty and the Beast, but some are uniquely created just for the ship you are on.

Other cruise lines do have incredible entertainment as well. Royal Caribbean is known for its Broadway shows and some of their own show creations that are very well done.

Not only does Disney have these incredible shows to watch there are some amazing Deck parties and Fireworks at Sea. You can play family trivia games; there is live music and more—special events during holiday or themed cruises. We did trick-or-treat on the Disney Wish in October of 2019.


There are no casinos on Disney Cruise Ships, unfortunately. Disney did this because they take up a lot of room on the ships, and Disney takes pride in its family atmosphere and doesn't want to take away from that. However, they do have one of my favorites onboard. BINGO! Even kids can play. I have never won at Bingo on a Disney Cruise, but I have on a Royal Caribbean cruise.


All 4 Disney Cruise Ships have a water slide or a coaster. That's about as far as it goes for "thrilling." There are smaller water slides for the younger kids. Most other cruise lines have multiple water slides for Bigger and younger kids. Some even have rock climbing, wave riders, zip lines, ropes courses, trampoline bungees, go-karts, bumper cars, and even skydiving simulators.

Shore Excursions

It's a personal preference for what you want to do. Most cruise lines have the same contracts with local tour companies and are about the same. You can even book your excursion with tour companies; make sure they are vetted and has a guarantee they will bring you back to the ship on time.

One of the significant differences with excursions is that most cruise lines require payment upfront for booking the excursion. Disney requires that you pay for your excursion at the end of the cruise. You might have to pay more upfront with other cruise lines, but with Disney, you will pay more in the end. Again, that is preference. I have done it both ways, and it doesn't matter to me. I know how much my excursion will be with Disney, and I budget that with the money I take on the cruise.


I want to give a quick mention about the Staterooms on Disney Ships. They are a little bigger than standard cruise lines. I also like how comfortable the beds are on Disney Cruise Line.

I love many things about sailing with other cruise lines, but I always seem to come back to DCL. I think it is due to the Disney essence and the little touches they make on their ships.

DCL is now booking for the rest of 2022 and all of 2023. If you are ready to book a cruise on any of the DCL ships or even another cruise line. Your Story Travel Company would like to make that happen. Just contact us on our website, and we will get things started.

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