Wait, how much does a Disney cruise cost?by Sherri Eisenberg | September 25, 2016
Family cruisers hear a lot about how wonderful Disney Cruise Line ships are … especially from us. We love the high level of service, the cabins designed just right for travelers with multiple kids (bunk beds come out of the ceiling! Diaper Genies are on loan ... for free!), the industry-leading kids clubs that are constantly being updated with cool new areas ("Star Wars" play rooms! Marvel comics areas!), and the giant roster of activities for little cruisers of all ages. Their stage shows include miniature versions of your favorite Disney films and Broadway shows, from "Tangled: The Musical" to "Aladdin" and a live performance of "Frozen" that's sure to blow the socks off the under-five set. Hey, even the pool-side chicken fingers are impressively crispy, and there are salads and cut-fruit salads for the healthy eaters.
Plus, since this is Disney, the technology is impressive too, with industry leading apps that keep you on top of what's going on onboard, in-cabin cell phones that function as Walkie Talkies for family members, and cutting-edge video games in the children's play rooms. Best of all, when you do pay more for upgrades, you get more. Take Remy, the modern French restaurant that's the hottest adults-only ticket on these ships: Sure, it's an almost $100-per-person upgrade, but it is one of the most elegantly executed meals at sea, and that includes specialty restaurants on luxury ships.
But, that said, start shopping for your next vacation, and you may be surprised by sticker shock when you see how much a Disney cruise costs. These trips do not come cheap.
In many cases, the Disney Cruise Line option is as much as twice the price of a cruise on Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, or Norwegian Cruise Line — even when you’re looking at the shiny new builds by these mass market lines. For example, the starting list price for two adults cruising on a four-night trip out of Florida on Disney Dream is about $1,600, while two adults could do a cruise on the new Carnival Vista for around $750 total. (And Vista has some exciting new features, too, from a seafood shack that you can order fish from and have it sent to any dining room onboard to a Cuban-themed pool area with mojitos, Latin jazz bands, Cuban snacks, thatched palapa-style umbrellas, and cabins with chair hammocks.)
The discounted rates are no different: They're as much as twice the discounted rates on competing lines that serve families with kids of all ages. We found a per-person rate of $650 for a four-night cruise on Disney Wonder, while a similar sailing on Norwegian Pearl started at an easy-to-stomach $199 per person. True, that's on Norwegian Pearl and not, say, the newer, cooler Norwegian Escape. But Disney Wonder isn't new either.
So, if these cruises all include a cabin, meals in a variety of dining venues, activities geared toward families, live music, and stage shows ... why is there such a big price difference between Disney and the other competing options? Read on for our answer.
Sherri Eisenberg is the New York City-based editorial director of ShermansCruise.com.