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Which Cruise to Choose?

Disney Cruise Lines vs. Royal Caribbean Cruises

Did you know that I’ve been on over 100 cruises? That’s right, before starting my own travel agency (first Ears of Experience, now the Curated Travel Collection), I was the Director of Operations for a large cruise-only travel company. 

Moral of the story: I absolutely adore cruising. In fact, I truly believe everyone should see as much as they can from the water, whether it’s a river, a canal, a lake, or the ocean. 

(If you’re ready to live out your cruise dream, reach out here and we’ll get you booked on the perfect one for you.)

Today I’m comparing two of our favorite lines to help you choose the right one for your next cruise adventure: Disney Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruises. I’ve been on both dozens of times – here’s how they line up: 

Two photos side by side - on the right is a picture of a Disney Cruise Lines cruise ship, and on the right is a Royal Caribbean Cruises ship called "Freedom of the Seas"

Choosing a cruise line can be overwhelming, especially when faced with the wide array of options and amenities available; Disney Cruise Line (DCL) and Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) each offer unique experiences tailored to different preferences and needs. Let’s dive into what sets them apart, so you can make an informed decision for your next adventure on the high seas:

photo on board a Disney Cruise Line ship, of Mickey and Minnie Mouse wearing captain's hats and saluting, standing on a staircase aboard one of their ships.

Disney Cruise Line: Where Magic Meets the Ocean

For families seeking an enchanting and immersive experience only Disney can offer, DCL is perfect. Here are some highlights that make it a top choice for many:

Exceptional Entertainment for the whole family: There is truly something for everyone in what feels like The Magic Kingdom at sea! DCL offers Broadway shows, new movie releases in their theater, character meet and greets and fun themed nights like Pirate Night and fireworks. 

DCL also offers teen spa treatments and their adult pool area offers both covered and uncovered areas, which makes for much cooler and sunnier spots in the kid-free zone.

Superior Dining and Drinks: DCL includes all sodas in the base fare and offers a larger variety of dining options on the Lido deck (wraps, burgers, salads, pizzas, hot dogs). Their Italian Specialty dining is better than RCL’s Giovanni’s Restaurant chain. They also offer Rotational Dining, where you go to different restaurants, but your servers go with you.

DCL also has an overall better wine and liquor selection throughout their ships, and Meridian Bar and The Rose Bar are our favorite bars between the two lines. They have the best martinis, great wine, and incredible views with indoor and outdoor seating on all but the newest ship.

photo taken on board a Disney Cruise Line ship, of a bottle of red wine next to a glass decantur containing some of the wine, with a view of the ocean behind it.
photo of a stateroom on board Disney Cruise lines, showing an elegant bed with a large window behind it, overlooking the ocean

Luxurious Amenities: With the feel of a classic ocean liner, the staterooms are larger than you’ll find on other ships, and most have a split bathroom for privacy. You also don’t have to check pool towels in and out, a convenience that saves lots of time and hassles as you enjoy all of the swimming options on board.

Tech-Savvy Convenience: The Disney app allows for seamless communication with guest services, reducing the need for in-person visits and waiting in lines. They also just added facial recognition (a service RCL has had for some time), which helps reduce wait times.

Royal Caribbean Cruises: Where Adventure Awaits

Craving excitement and a huge variety of activities to keep everyone entertained? Royal Caribbean Cruises might be your perfect match, especially if you’re traveling with older children or just other adults. Here’s why:

Foodie Haven: While DCL shines in Italian specialties, RCL offers a wider variety of specialty dining venues (on most of their ships). The Windjammer buffet is open for dinner and has a great international section; we love all the Indian options!

photo of a shrimp cocktail, served on board one of Royal Caribbean's cruises
Aerial photo of Perfect Day at Coco Cay, the Royal Caribbean Cruise line's private island

Adventurous Escapes: Royal Caribbean’s private island, “Perfect Day at Coco Cay”, is packed full of things to do, whether you want to sit and chill or take on some adventure. It’s far better than DCL’s Castaway Cay when it comes to variety: you’ll find waterslides, pools, a private beach club, a new adults-only area and more. 

Kid-Friendly Thrills: With a WOW factor designed to appeal to kids ages eight to seventeen, Royal Caribbean keeps younger guests entertained with larger splash pads and water parks, along with lots of other exciting games and activities.

Adult-Oriented Activities & Entertainment: RCL’s ships have a different vibe that trends toward older kids and adults who want the ability to party a little (or a lot!). The entertainment is much more varied with live music, comedy shows, Silent Disco, Aqua shows, Playmakers, and a casino. You’ll also find bigger and more well-equipped gyms, even on the smaller ships, as well as an adults-only pool area.

Advanced Tech: Facial recognition monitors streamline disembarkation and customs processes, since you don’t have to wait in line for customs agents (RCL has had this in place for some time, DCL just added it in the last week or so). Their internet is also far faster than on DCL.

Discounts and Packages: RCL makes it easy to choose what you want to include well ahead of boarding, helping with upgrades and convenience during your trip. Discounts on add-ons like drink packages, specialty dining packages, internet, and excursions are all available if booked ahead of boarding. 

photo on board a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship, from the perspective of someone working on a laptop. Shows a courtyard and open roof, modern design

Ready to choose? If you want a magical experience tailored to families with young children and a touch of Disney enchantment, Disney Cruise Line may be your dream come true. If you seek adventure, diverse entertainment options, and an atmosphere well-suited for adults and families with kids ages nine and up, Royal Caribbean Cruises could be your ticket to an unforgettable voyage. 

Whichever you choose, you’ll be setting sail on an extraordinary journey filled with memories to last a lifetime.

Ready to board? We’re booking cruises year-round, but summer sailings are filling up fast, so reach out here to book today.

Relax, we’ll take care of everything,

Amy Westerman
The Curated Travel Collection

P.S. For more of our travel stories, tips and trends visit our blog.