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Pros and Cons of a Disney Cruise


Last August, I was able to sail on Disney Cruise Line onboard the beautiful Disney Fantasy. As an adult with no children, I was curious how this family-friendly cruise brand would appeal to me. 

After spending 7 nights onboard, I fell in love with everything the line has to offer. However, as with any travel experience, there are some pros and cons to embarking on a magical Disney cruise. 

From the rotational dining model to Disney's private destinations in The Bahamas, here's what you can expect when planning and setting sail on a Disney cruise. 

Pro - Disney theming, style, and magic 

DCL Fantasy

If you are someone who is considering a vacation with Disney Cruise Line, chances are you are somewhat of a Disney fan. Just as with the infamous theme parks, Disney capitalizes on their many characters and movies and brings to life the magic that children and families experience on the big screen to a cruise vacation experience. 

They utilize a classic cruise and nautical design throughout their vessels, as well as supplying guests with that all-important Disney feel. This means that while onboard, guests are immersed in everything Disney, though it is not too overpowering. For this reason, a Disney Cruise can appeal to even the most casual of Disney fans. 

Onboard, guests will be able to experience exclusive magical touches, such as themed dining experiences as well as fireworks at sea. These are definitely pros when it comes to Disney Cruise Line

Con - Rotational dining method 

DCL Fantasy

Perhaps my personal least favorite part of a Disney cruise is the rotational dining system in which guests are assigned to a specific dining room, seating time, and table each night of their cruise. While it does make things relatively seamless onboard for dinner time, the rotational dining system inevitably means less flexibility throughout the day and evening.

Guests will need to be aware of exactly when and where their dinner is each night, as they're expected to arrive on time. Arriving late means that the other guests who are seated at the same table will not be able to be served, as cast members work off of a strict schedule to maintain an orderly dinner time onboard for everyone. 

Additionally, if guests particularly enjoy a specific dining room, they are not able to dine at these venues whenever they desire. Guests can only dine in dining rooms that they have been assigned to for that evening. 

DCL Fantasy

Private seating is also very limited. Unless specifically requested, guests will most likely be automatically assigned to larger tables with at least one other travel group or family. Guests can request a private table for just their travel party, but these requests can not always be accommodated. 

Because dinner time is not just a meal onboard, as there is some show element involved, the rotational dining system is necessary to make sure that every guest has the chance to experience the dining magic. However, this strict schedule does mean less flexibility for some guests. 

For this reason, I recommend carefully considering if you are someone who would like the earlier or later dining time. Each time is scheduled to accommodate the multiple theater show times each night, so you won't have to worry about missing any other exciting onboard activities! Most families with young children tend to prefer the earlier dinner dining time. If you are someone who enjoys long days ashore, I would recommend considering the later time. 

Pro - Disney’s Castaway Cay and Disney’s Lighthouse Point

DCL Fantasy

One of the most unique things that any Disney fan can experience is a visit to Disney Cruise Line’s private island in The Bahamas, Castaway Cay, which has a plethora of activities ashore for adult guests, children, teens, and families. When it comes to spending a day in the Bahamian sun, Castaway Cay makes for a great Disney-filled day in paradise. 

Disney’s Castaway Cay has some of the most unique amenities and activities I have seen on a cruise line private island. Some of these activities include a complimentary 5k run (or walk, as guests are free to participate at their own leisure) that includes a prize at the end, as well as the underwater snorkel trail. 

While sailing onboard Disney Fantasy, I spent one day at Disney’s Castaway Cay, and it definitely was not enough time to thoroughly explore everything onshore. Guests can easily come back to this private island destination again and again and discover something new on short 3-night cruises, as well as longer getaways that sail to the Caribbean. 

DCL Fantasy

Additionally, those looking for extra Disney magic can book a cruise to Lighthouse Point, Disney's second private destination nestled on the island of Eleuthera. Featuring all-new amenities and activities ashore, Lighthouse Point is sure to entice as well as excite Disney Cruise Line passengers. 

Read: 10 things Disney got right about their private island Castaway Cay

Con - Price point and budget 

DCL Fantasy

It won't come as a surprise to many that Disney cruises can be rather expensive. With many included amenities, unique experiences, and the all-important attention to detail that only Disney can bring, this can mean that guests may pay more for their cruise vacation onboard with Disney than they might onboard with other cruise lines. 

When it comes to booking a cruise vacation, it is all about personal preferences and desires. Cruise sailings onboard other cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, can cost just as much as Disney Cruise Line depending on the chosen itinerary, ship, and cabin. 

I recommend taking a look at the sales and special offers page on Disney Cruise Line’s website. Occasionally, Disney will offer discounted sailings, as well as special discounts to military members and their families, Florida residents, Canadian residents, and more. 

Pro - Character meet and greets 

DCL Fantasy

Booking a Disney cruise means that guests will board with a certain expectation for the quintessential Disney magic. Something quite popular onboard Disney ships is character meet and greets. When I boarded my Disney cruise, I was curious to see if there would be as many opportunities for guests to meet characters as there are in Disney’s theme parks. 

I was very surprised to discover that there seemed to be nearly as many opportunities, if not more, for passengers onboard to meet their favorite characters. Meeting Disney characters may not be for everyone, but for those who do enjoy the chance to shake hands and take a picture with their favorite Disney character, there will be plenty of opportunities. 

Guests can check the ship’s onboard schedule in the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App for the exact times and locations of where characters will be during their cruise. 

Read: Disney Cruise ships by size

Con - Crowded main pool areas 

DCL Fantasy

Something that I noticed quickly while onboard Disney Fantasy was how crowded the main pool areas got.

The main pool is where children will be playing and enjoying an afternoon in the sun. One of the fun features of Disney Cruise Line’s main pools is the huge jumbo screen that will feature Disney films throughout the day. It's pretty common for families to enjoy watching a Disney movie poolside. 

When the primary pool gets overly crowded and busy, I recommend adult guests check out the adult-only pools. These adult-only pools are often much less busy and more quiet. 

Read more: How to beat the chair hogs on your cruise ship

Pro - Full-scale theater shows and entertainment 

DCL Fantasy

One of the best parts of a Disney cruise is the entertainment; they are an entertainment company after all! They do not skip out on entertainment onboard their cruise ships. 

Onboard my Disney Fantasy cruise, I was able to see three different Broadway-style theater shows, all of which were fun and featured a talented cast of performers. My favorite shows were the theater renditions of Disney's Aladdin and Frozen. 

In addition to theater Broadway-style shows, Disney also has some other forms of unique entertainment, such as fireworks at sea! These impressive nighttime entertainment shows feature engaging music, live fireworks, and more. 


Additionally, guests can also enjoy complimentary screenings of newly released Disney films. During my sailing, I chose to catch two different films that were still in theaters. Watching the movies later in the evening ensured that I did not miss any of the fun and events that happened each night onboard. 

Read more: Shows You Can See on a Disney Cruise (2024)

Con - Limited itinerary variety 

DCL Fantasy

Because Disney Cruise Line is a relatively small cruise line in terms of their fleet size, it means that there are fewer itineraries for guests to choose from. 

Currently, Disney only has five ships in service, with two more on the horizon. Their fleet sails to the following destinations around the world: the Bahamas, Caribbean, Northern Europe, Mediterranean, British Isles, Bermuda, Alaska, Canada, Mexican Rivera, Panama Canal, Pacific Coast, Transatlantic sailings, Hawaii, South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia. 

While Disney does cover an impressive percentage of the globe, there are simply not as many itinerary options to choose from as some other large-scale cruise lines. 

It is likely that with the addition of Disney Treasure, Disney Adventure, and Disney Destiny they'll add even more destinations to their roster. 

Pro - Large and comfortable staterooms 

DCL Fantasy

Disney Cruise Line has designed their staterooms with families in mind. This means that even in the smallest, most affordable inside cabins, four guests can comfortably fit. 

Some of Disney's staterooms even feature split bathrooms that help make getting ready in the morning or for bed easier for families with children, couples, or even friends traveling together.  

Read more: I tried the cheapest stateroom onboard Disney Cruise Line, here’s what it included

Con - More planning and preparation involved 

DCL Fantasy

I have found that sailing with Disney Cruise Line involves a bit more planning a preparation than other cruise voyages. 

Because most passengers are fans of the Disney company, similar to planning a visit to one of Disney’s theme parks, passengers tend to invest more time into planning their cruise vacation simply because there is a lot to know. 

From pre-booking specialty dining and exclusive activities onboard to knowing exactly where to stand to get the best fireworks views and what to wear for Disney Cruise Line’s famous Pirate Night, there are a lot of things to know to make the very best out of your cruise. 

Read more: 16 tips for the best sea day with Disney Cruise Line

Pro - Impressive and complimentary kids clubs 

DCL Fantasy

Because Disney is a company that caters to families and children it may come as no surprise that they really do have the best youth clubs at sea. Disney has several kids' clubs onboard all of their ships catering to every age group from young babies to teens: It's a Small World Nursery, Disney's Oceaneer Club and Lab, Edge, Vibe, and The Hideaway. 

Cruisers can find a club onboard where they can meet other cruisers their age and engage in age-appropriate activities with trained crew members. 

I stopped by the club's open house while on Disney Fantasy. It was a great way to get a glimpse at some of the amenities available onboard. I was impressed with themed areas and amount of activities for kids. Throughout our cruise, I often overheard children begging their parents to return to the kids' clubs! 

Con - No inclusive alcohol packages

DCL Fantasy

Cruising is often associated with enjoying a tropical drink while lounging next to the pool during an afternoon in the sunshine. While adult guests can still enjoy a tasty beverage onboard á la carte, there are no liquor-based drink packages.

However, adult guests can purchase a beer or wine drink package should they choose to, though neither is all-inclusive. Passengers can save up to 25% off when they purchase a wine or beer package. The beer package onboard also comes with a Disney Cruise Line-branded beer stein mug. 

All soft drinks and soda, as well as tea and drip coffee, are complimentary onboard all Disney ships. 

Read more: Cruise Line Alcohol Drink Packages Guide (2024)

Pro - Spaces for adults and kids

DCL Fantasy
(The Tube, pictured above, is an adult-only bar and lounge entertainment venue onboard Disney Fantasy) 

While Disney Cruise Line does have some impressive amenities and spaces just for children, adult guests are not forgotten onboard. I was surprised to find a large amount of bars, lounges, entertainment areas, and pools just for guests 18 years and older.

There was so much onboard for adult guests to explore. I appreciate that these adult-only spaces felt elevated and not overly Disney, while still featuring hints of Disney magic. They made for a great day of relaxation and evenings of fun onboard. 

Disney Fantasy, for example, has 10 bars and lounges onboard, as well as two adult pool areas. 

DCL Fantasy
(Pictured above is the Quiet Cove adult-only pool area onboard the Disney Fantasy) 

As an adult who does not currently have children, I was very impressed with Disney Cruise Line’s adult-only amenities. For those adults who enjoy some Disney magic, I highly recommend considering a Disney cruise! 

Read: What is it like to sail with Disney Cruise Line as an adult with no children?

As with every cruise line, there are pros and cons for every traveler to consider before booking a Disney cruise

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While I loved my Disney Fantasy sailing, the brand won't appeal to everyone's needs and desires. This is one of the great things about cruising; there is a cruise line, ship, and itinerary out there for nearly everyone! 

Disney Cruise Line is, in my personal opinion, a great cruise vacation for those guests traveling as a family, a couple looking for an adventure at sea, or a multi-generational family looking to make memories together. 

Disney is one of the major players in the cruise line industry. While the fleet may be small with just five ships, it is mighty with its offerings, amenities, and features. With three new ships set to make their debut soon, Disney is sure to make a large splash this year and next. 

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