Disney Cruise vs. Disney World | Which is the Better Choice?

Disney Cruise vs. Disney World. What is the better Disney vacation for your family? In this article we will be breaking down the pros and cons to help you decide on a Disney World or Disney Cruise vacation.

Visiting Disney World or going on a Disney Cruise is a big vacation. There are lots of things to consider and if it is your first visit you may not know which is the best choice for your family.

We have visited Disney World many times as well as taken Disney Cruise vacations and there is not an obvious choice.

Difference between Disney Cruise and Disney World

The biggest difference between a Disney Cruise vacation and Disney World vacation is the atmosphere.

A cruise is slow paced and more relaxed. There are less people and it is all-inclusive. A Disney Cruise Line vacation is great for families of all ages. Young kids will love the youth clubs and different Disney cruise experiences.

Disney parks are busier. There are lots of people, long lines, and it is not all-inclusive. A Disney Parks vacation also has something for everyone with first class rides, attractions, and entertainment.

There are pros and cons to comparing Disney World over Disney Cruise trip. A lot depends on what your priorities are for a vacation, as well as budget, and the ages of your traveling party.

Read on for details on what is the best Disney vacation for your family: Disney Cruise or Disney World.

disney cruise vs disney world overview
The view from our room on the Disney Dream.

Disney Cruise vs. Disney World Overview

There are a few different categories to consider when comparing a Disney Cruise or a Disney World vacation. They are:

  • Cost of the Trip
  • What is Included
  • Type of Vacation You Want to Have

Disney World vs. Disney Cruise Cost

Walt Disney World Cost

The cost of a Walt Disney World vacation can vary depending on many things. Will you be visiting all four parks? Will you stay at a Deluxe, Moderate, or Value resort or stay off-site? Is a sit down meal important to you? How much do you want to pay upfront?

Disney World has four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There are also two water parks and Disney Springs.

You can expect to spend anywhere from $3000.00 for a smaller family to $6000.00+ for larger groups. Prices vary based on the time of year you visit, the ages of your kids, and where you want to stay.

The price is a starting price that includes your hotel and 4 day tickets to the parks. It does not include transportation costs or food.

Disney Cruise Cost

The Disney Cruise Lines cost is paid up front so you won’t have as many unexpected costs. I priced out a 3 day Bahama cruise out of Port Canaveral for my family and the total came to $4,300.00.

This does not include additional cost of transportation or any extras you might want to purchase.

Disney Cruise Lines has many different Disney ships. They are Disney Magic, Disney Fantasy, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Wish.

A Disney Cruise vacation is going to be upfront costs that typically will not fluctuate much during your trip. When planning a Disney World trip you will have to budget for costs during the trip.

A Disney Cruise includes more basic vacation necessities, like dining and entertainment, than a Disney World trip.

There are not a lot of extras on a Disney Cruise that you need to purchase while on your vacation to enjoy the cruise.

Is a Disney Cruise cheaper than Disney World?

It can be but it also depends on how long you cruise for and the room you choose. We have done a 3 night cruise that costs around $4200.00. That includes room, dining, and onboard activities but it is for 3 days.

We have done a one week Disney vacation for $6200.00 including food, tickets, and resort.

I recommend taking the time to price out Disney World and a Disney Cruise to determine what is the best value for you.

disney world vs disney cruise resorts
The Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World.

Disney World or Disney Cruise: What is Included

Obviously the biggest difference in visiting Disney World or a Disney Cruise is Disney World is a huge resort with many activities. Disney Cruise is one ship. What is on the ship is what you get.

What is Included in a Disney World Vacation?

Disney World is home to four theme parks, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom. Two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. A shopping and dining area, Disney Springs and over 30 resorts.

Guests visiting for one week will never experience everything there is to do at Disney World.

A Disney World vacation is not an all inclusive vacation. Guests will pay for dining, theme park tickets, and extra experiences they decide to do.

A theme park ticket will get you access to the amazing entertainment and attractions inside the parks. Character dining requires reservations and is not included with your visit.

There are not kids clubs at the Disney resorts that are included with your stay. There are daily pool side activities at most resorts but these are not drop off programs.

What is Included in a Disney Cruise Vacation?

The nice thing about a Disney Cruise vacation is food, entertainment, and childcare is included with your sailing cost.

A lot of people like this because you pay one price and have access to unlimited food and fun activities for the family.

The Disney Oceaneer Club is the kids club on the ship. My kids loved the Kids Club on the Disney Dream. I go into all the details in this article: Disney Dream Kids Club: What Parents Need to Know for a Disney Cruise. This is included in your vacation cost and is not extra.

Guests are also provided all meals during their stay on the ship. For dinner, guests will dine in a different main dining restaurant each night and the buffet is open throughout the day.

The daily activities are mostly included with your visit. Some activities like BINGO may have a small additional fee. Shore excursions are also not included with your cost but visiting Disney’s Castaway Cay is included. This is Disney’s private island.

Both Disney World and Disney Cruises offer different character experiences. This includes Mickey Mouse and friends, Disney Princesses, Star Wars characters, Marvel characters, and more. Each theme park or Disney ship features different character meet and greets.

disney cruise kids club
Kids Club on a Disney Cruise.


The accommodations are pretty comparable on a Disney Cruise or at a Disney resort. Cruise ship rooms are typically small but most standard resort rooms are also small in size.

If you plan on spending a lot of time in the room you may want to upgrade to a verandah room on the cruise or a suite at Disney World.

Disney cruise lines also include room service options to guests onboard. Room service at Walt Disney World is not available at all resorts and is at an additional cost.

Planning a Disney Cruise or Disney World Vacation

A few extras that you want to think about when you are deciding between a Disney Cruise vacation or a Disney World vacation is crowds and what type of vacation are you looking for.

The planning process for a Disney World vacation is much more complicated than planning for a Disney Cruise. A travel agent may be worth checking out if you need assistance.

Crowds at Disney World compared to a Disney Cruise

At Disney World you will be among lots of other visitors. Depending on the season you visit you could see busy crowds or low crowds.

A Disney Cruise is the same. During holiday breaks you will see a busier cruise ship than the less busy times.

A Cruise ship will feel less busy than the parks most of the time due to the limited capacity of a ship.

What Type of Vacation Do you Want

Planning a Disney World vacation takes a lot more work than planning a Disney Cruise vacation. For a Disney Cruise vacation you pick your destination and dates and are pretty much set.

A Disney World vacation will involve choosing days you will visit the parks, what you will do at the parks, where you will eat, and where you will stay. It takes way more planning time.

Do you want to relax by the pool while your kids play in the kids club? Would you like dinner out with your partner? Do you want to sleep in and have slow days? Then a Disney Cruise is best.

Do you want to experience attractions and see Cinderella’s Castle? Or visit Galaxy’s Edge and see Chewbacca. Do you want multiple food options and activities? Do you get claustrophobic or sea sick? A Disney World Vacation may be best.

Do you want a mix of both? Start your vacation at Walt Disney World and follow it up with a 3 day cruise. This gives you the best of both vacations.

disney cruise vs disney world castaway cay
Disney’s Castaway Cay Private Island

Bottom line. A Disney World or Disney Cruise trip is going to be better based on what type of vacation you are looking for.

Someone may tell you differently but that is their opinion and only you will know what you are looking for in a vacation.

Personally we have reasons we like both. I tend to get sea sick and I like my space but I really love the dining options on the cruise ship and the all inclusive feel. We prefer to do a split trip to get the best of both vacations.

Which ever you choose a Disney Cruise or Disney World vacation you can rest assured it will be an awesome family vacation. You can’t go wrong with the service and value you get in a Disney vacation.

Read Next: 10 Best Packing Tips for Disney World

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