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Advice - DCL vs Royal

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 I have been wanting to go on a Disney cruise for 20 years. However, the money keeps stopping me as there are lots of great cruise lines for less. My girls are 11 and 8 now so I feel like I need to do it soon before they outgrow it. They are already starting to prefer Universal to Disney as the rides are cooler.  

 

We are heading to Orlando for Spring break (April 1 to 13) and plan to go to Universal one last time on our annual passes. So I started pricing out cruises as I am not spending 10 days at Universal. A 7 night Disney cruise is not going to happen...way too $$$$

 

So I was thinking of doing the 3 day and then maybe following it up with a 4 day on Royal to go to their private island. So get off one ship in the morning and then get on another that afternoon.  I really wanted to do the 4 day but it $2700 for the extra night and I didn't think it was worth it.

OR

skip Disney cruise entirely and do a 7 day Eastern on Royal's Harmony of the Seas which looks amazing.

 

So just wondering if Disney is really worth it? I have been wanting to go on a Disney cruise for 20 years so I am so torn. Also has anyone done a back to back but on different cruise lines?  My husband is would prefer the 7 day Royal as its a little cheaper and doesn't feel like Disney is worth the price.  We have only sailed Carnival previously which was fine. 

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7 day RCL. Disney is producing themselves out of the market and as much as we love Disney, the price isn't justified. 

 

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7 day for sure. We just sailed on the Symphony (sister ship to Harmony) and it was awesome!  I love cruising and if we only sailed on Disney we would hardly ever sail. Royal's pricing and availability allow us to cruise more and go more places.

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Are you a big Disney fan? If so, then a Disney Cruise is completely worth it. If you’re not a big Disney fan, you may think differently.

 

We are not big Disney fans, but I still wanted to sail on a Disney Cruise at least once in my life and give my kids that experience. I decided to pull the trigger when the kids were 6 and 8 years old and did a 7 night cruise on the Disney Fantasy.

 

In a nutshell, it was a great cruise. There’s no denying that Disney excels in their customer service, children activities and entertainment. And the ship is truly a masterpiece. But, a big chunk of what you pay for goes to pixie dust and Disney magic, so if you’re not a big Disney fan, you may feel like you’re not getting your money’s worth. And that’s how I felt at times. More than once, I found myself thinking “I paid 3x as much for this and it’s not 3x better than what I’ve experienced on other cruise lines”.

 

Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful product, and the kids had a great time (although they said that they preferred the kids club on MSC and Royal). I do believe that what Disney delivers does command a premium price, just not THAT much of a premium. But many fellow cruisers that we met would disagree, and will gladly sail on Disney exclusively no matter how much they charge. They truly believe that any other cruise line isn’t good enough (even though many of them have never sailed on anything besides Disney). 

 

To summarize, I’m completely glad that we sailed on Disney, and I have zero regrets about it. I’m also glad that we did it when we did because the kids were at a perfect age to immerse themselves in the Disney experience. But for this non-Disney fans, one time was enough. When the cruise started, I was really into it. But as the week progressed, the nonstop Disney everything started getting old.

 

With that said, we do have friends who love Disney, and they keep begging us to sail with them. If the prices ever become more competitive, I’d look at sailing on Disney again, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. I’m trying to get them to sail with us on something else and they won’t budge either. 

Edited by Tapi

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On 10/12/2019 at 9:02 PM, GigemAggies said:

Disney is producing themselves out of the market and as much as we love Disney, the price isn't justified. 

 

They keep charging more, and people are gladly paying more and keeping the ships full. Just today I was talking to my best friend from college who was looking for advice on a Disney Cruise. He was looking at the same ship, itinerary and date as when I sailed on Disney 2 years ago. In 2017, we paid $7K for that cruise. For 2020, he’s going to pay $9.3K, and he went ahead and put a deposit down! Like him, there’s s lot of people not thinking twice about spending that kind of money on a Disney Cruise. 

Edited by Tapi

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We have sailed all 4 Disney ships, but this was back in the day where the prices were much more reasonable (and you could bring all of the booze you wanted onboard).  My kids absolutely loved them all.  But about 6 years ago, we decided to try Royal (Liberty) because of the price difference and the kids loved it almost as much.  My wife and I probably liked it better.  It wasn't quite as "magical" as Disney, but we are sticking with Royal going forward.  We are currently planning our next one and I did price Disney out just in case, but I can't even consider it with those prices.  Also, I don't think I would ever do a 3 day cruise.  We did a 4 day once and that seemed a bit rushed.  

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Going on Fantasy next summer and it is $8K for two in a balcony cabin for 9 days.  For that price I can get a pretty large suite on Harmony for a week.  But younger granddaughter hasn't been on a Disney cruise yet. 

 

Disney is fun, with all the character interactions and both great kids areas and adult areas but food on Royal is quite a bit better.  Shows are excellent on Royal Oasis-class ships and there is a lot for the whole family to do.  The 3 or 4 day cruises are way too rushed.

 

Your plan is OK to go on both but you really should try a 7 day on either line rather than two short trips.  We've done several short trips but you are preparing to disembark on the second day.  If you have to take short trips book a back-to-back on the same ship.  Still messes up the middle day but you can get two stops at a private island (if that is what you really want).

 

 

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On 11/6/2019 at 7:05 PM, LeeW said:

Going on Fantasy next summer and it is $8K for two in a balcony cabin for 9 days.  For that price I can get a pretty large suite on Harmony for a week.  But younger granddaughter hasn't been on a Disney cruise yet. 

 

 

 

 

Are you on the Fantasy Eastern at the end of June?   If yes, we are on that cruise also.  I wish it were 11-nights, but they are not doing the southern in Summer 2020 unfortunately.  It should be a great cruise, even if shorter than I would like!

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We are just under Platinum on DCL, AND just stated going back on Royal as the kids are getting older. While DCL offers a great product, RC was not far behind, if it were at all. We could no longer justify the cost difference for our family, and could sail on just about 3 Royal cruises for the price of 1 DCL sailing, now. We probably wouldn’t do another DCL cruise, unless they have a great Interline (airline employee) rate available.

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GO ON HARMONY

 

I love the Oasis class and you will not be disappointed.

Disney will not have night buffet for dinner and yey RCCL does. Food is really pretty good and you dont waste 2 hrs time on a busy ship.

 

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11 hours ago, Oceansaway17 said:

GO ON HARMONY

 

I love the Oasis class and you will not be disappointed.

Disney will not have night buffet for dinner and yey RCCL does. Food is really pretty good and you dont waste 2 hrs time on a busy ship.

 

I disagree with this. I very much enjoy the dining room experience for dinner, and for all other meals when I can. I avoid the buffets whenever possible.

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7 hours ago, 1025cruise said:

I disagree with this. I very much enjoy the dining room experience for dinner, and for all other meals when I can. I avoid the buffets whenever possible.

 

 

that is what you feel and so be it.

 

but more and more folks do go to Windjammer including the officers.  it is quieter, faster and very nice and views of the ocean when late days in summer.  MDR are overrated unless you absolutely depend on being SERVED.  Many of the waiters are rushed and being watched by their leads and talking can get quiet loud.

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I have been on multiple cruise lines and multiple ships.  

 

To me, the prime reason to go on the Disney ships is the character experience.  You pre-pay for a usb for all your photos (prices are based on # of days in your cruise).  Then you and your kids get pictures with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Chip & Dale, and Donald and Daisy dressed in ..at a minimum....sailor clothes, beach clothes, pirate clothes, evening garb, and if you are on special cruise & lucky...halloween costumes or holiday garb, all the Princesses in their regular dresses, plus evening garb plus a Frozen interchange with Elsa & Anna, plus Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Hook & Mr. Smee.  Plus special background pics Plus all the other characters on the ship at the time, which could include Doc Mc, Johnny somebody, Doug and Ralph(?) from "UP".  It is not usual to get 100 photos in a 3 to 4 day cruise with borders on them commemorating the event. Plus the pictures taken in all the restaurants.  Expect lines, but with a family, we tag team and as we can send someone to wait on line on a different deck while pictures are taken on another.  Most pictures are in the atrium or by the theater/shops.  I am an adult.  I LOVE the character experience.  If you chase characters at the park, then a Disney cruise is great for you!  You will get more Disney character pictures here in 3 or 4 day cruise than you would ever get in the parks, except maybe for Halloween or Christmas special events at Disney World.  

 

If you don't like characters or you don't want pictures, I wouldn't spend the money.  Go RCL.

 

However, as you can expect, the shows on Disney are hands down the best I've seen on any cruise line.  They are Disney.  Sound, music, dancing, story lines, special effects...the best.  They're cast members train in Toronto for months before coming to the ship and stay together for the life of their contract.  Then are retrained with their new "crew mates".   No other cruise line has it better.  

 

Disney also has multiple movie theaters.  1st run Disney (and Marvel, and StarWars) movies that come out even while the ship is on a cruise will be shown in the theater.  Check the movie schedules daily.  

 

The kids clubs are said to be fantastic.  As a crafter, I've been envious.  They take care of the kids from little-little to teenager and really watch out for the kids.  For the tiny ones, Goofy comes in in his PJs when it's nap time.  The camp counselors do a great job of keeping the kids interested.

 

There are adult only sections of the ship with a private pool and bar area, so when the kids are in camp, the parents can have some quiet time.  

 

The food is very good.  I saw someone say that the RCL food is better.  I have not found that to be true.  Disney food has been better than RCL on the cruises I have been on.  However, I recently went on a HAL transatlantic and the food was phenomenal on that cruise.  There's a soda station on the pool deck, so all coke, sprite, etc. are free (no charge) and there's a self-serve ice cream machine and other good food options (fresh fruit, salads) as well as pizza, burgers, fries, and chicken sandwiches, also available on the pool deck.  All no charge.  When I was on RCL or HAL, I had to pay for cokes.

 

Disney does NOT have a casino on board ship, so if you feel the need to gamble, you'll had to do it on Nassau when you dock.

 

Good luck with whatever you decide. I agree that Disney is pricing itself out of the market with the pricing for its cruises.  I'm not sure why it is using that cost model.  I limit my Disney cruises now (but I am also retired) to one a year or one every 2 years.   

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DIsney ships only have one theater dedicated to movies, the Buena Vista Theater, unless you are counting the jumbotron on the pool deck? While the Walt Disney Theater occasionally shows movies, its main use is for the shows. It's not a movie theater per se.

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We went on our first Disney cruise when my daughter was eight, and I'm glad we did -- she was still young enough to believe in the characters, etc.  Now that she's 11 I'm really torn about the financial side -- we can afford Disney, but she knows the truth about who's inside the costumes, so it feels a bit wasteful.  Not sure what we'll decide, but for the original poster, I would say if your kids are really into Disney and/or still believe in the characters, it can be thrilling to "meet" them in real life.  If not, then it probably isn't worth it.

 

And I definitely agree that three or even four days is too hectic -- definitely go for at least five, and preferably seven.

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