Disney Cruise vs. Walt Disney World

I think my t-shirt perfectly sets the tone for this blog post. Don’t you?! Hold on while I overthink this.

Should I take my family on a Disney cruise or to Walt Disney World? I get this question a lot. And to be clear, there is no wrong answer. But the best answer for you will depend on your expectations for your vacation, the time of year you are able to travel, and of course, the amount you’re comfortable spending.

As most of my clients are located in the southeast, the primary demand is for Walt Disney World and cruises from Florida. So that’s what this blog post will focus on. However I am able to book all Disney destinations including Disneyland, Aulani, and Adventures by Disney.

What to expect on a Disney cruise?

Make sure you’ve read 5 things you’ll LOVE about the Disney Wish!

A Disney cruise offers all of the magic of character meet and greets, fireworks, and Broadway-style shows in a relaxed environment. Just take a look at how many times I caught the Princess reading! In addition, your cruise fare includes meals in the main dining rooms, kids club (hello date night!), on Caribbean itineraries a visit to Castaway Cay (Disney’s award winning private island in the Bahamas), and all-you-can-eat soft-serve ice cream. I mean the latter is a bonus 10 points in my opinion! Then there’s the energizing Sail Away Parties, and add-ons ($) like tastings, fine dining experiences, and premium entertainment experiences like Olaf’s Royal Picnic.

Depending on your itinerary, you may have multiple ports of call. In addition to Castaway Cay, we stopped in Nassau, where we spent the day with family celebrating my Dad’s 70th birthday. For guests not visiting family, there were so many excursions to choose from, such as Blackbeard’s Revenge, a day pass at Atlantis Paradise Island, and dolphin encounter at Blue Lagoon Island. I firmly believe in getting off the ship while in port. Seeing a little bit of a foreign country, especially one as beautiful as The Bahamas, is part of the overall experience.

While the Wish includes Disney’s first attraction at sea – the AquaMouse – which is super cute, it’s no Tower of Terror or Expedition Everest. If attractions are a priority for you, know that you will not have that experience on a cruise.

Anytime of year is a great time to sail. Holiday sailings (Halloween on the High Seas and Very Merrytime Cruises) and specialty cruises (Marvel Day at Sea, Pixar Day at Sea) include even more magic. But its important to know that hurricane season runs June 1 – November 30, with most activity historically in September/October. By no means am I saying to avoid these two months. But you do need to be aware that should a storm affect your sailing, it will be necessary to reschedule.

What to Expect at Walt Disney World?

Friend, as exciting as this visit will be, there will be nothing relaxing about it. Ha! Even when my kids were little, their main {sometimes only} focus has been attractions. They enjoy racing from one to the other. In between I’m able to schedule a few character meet and greets, and shows. When we visit with them, they take the lead and we follow. When the DH and I go by ourselves, or I travel with girlfriends, there’s a much better balance of calm and crazy. Even so, I walk 15-20K steps/day. Is it relaxing? No. Is it exhilarating? Absolutely!

Other than attractions, what do the parks offer that the cruises don’t? I love festival time at EPCOT. There are four a year, which coincide with the seasons. We always end up resort hopping, to try new restaurants, see seasonal displays, etc. When time allows, I always try to build an Enchanting Extra into our itinerary.

Probably the major con is the Florida heat. In the summertime, it is brutal. You will spend a pretty penny on cool drinks. I always advise my clients with littles to get an early start, take a midday break back at the hotel, then head back into the parks in the evening.

It’s important to note here that every once in a while a hurricane will affect Central Florida. In recent memory, the parks have closed twice. So you’re not exempt from weather events.


Let’s get down to brass tacks. What is the price difference between a Disney cruise and a Walt Disney World vacation? Let’s look at a few real-life examples:

Disney Cruise Option 1

Family of 4 (2 adults, kids ages 12 and 8)

Disney Wish 4-Night Very Merrytime Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral

Ports of Call: Nassau & Castaway Cay

November 20-24, 2023

Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah

Grand Total: $7,579.84 (including taxes, fees, and prepaid gratuities)

Deposit: $1,388.29 

Balance Due: 08/22/2023

Disney Cruise Option 2

Family of 4 (2 adults, kids ages 12 and 8)

Disney Dream 5-Night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean Cruise from Fort Lauderdale

Ports of Call: Castaway Cay & Cozumel

November 20-25, 2023

Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah

Grand Total: $7,601.32 (including taxes, fees, and prepaid gratuities)

Deposit: $1,364.72 

Balance Due: 8/22/2023

Walt Disney World Options

Family of 4 (2 adults, kids ages 12 and 8)

Deposit: $200

Balance due: 10/21/2023

So which should you choose?

The easy answer is why choose? If the budget allows, tack on a few park days before your cruise, like we did. If that’s not an option, my professional opinion is if you have really young kids, opt for the cruise. Free kids’ club in an enriching environment?! Yes, please! With older kids, opt for the parks. They’ll appreciate the attractions so much more.

Alternatively, if you’ve visited Walt Disney World multiple times and want to try something new within the Disney bubble, give a cruise a try.

Final Thoughts

A Disney vacation is an investment. Which is why you should be using an experienced Authorized Disney Vacation planner like myself to expertly guide you through the booking process, and can confidently answer your questions. Let’s chat!

5 things you’ll LOVE about the Disney Wish! / Disney Cruise vs. Walt Disney World

As an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner and lover of all things Disney, I would be honored for the opportunity to plan your visit to The Most Magical Place on Earth! Email ebony@familytraveladventuresllc.com to learn more.

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