Disney Cruise Line vs. Carnival: Which family-friendly cruise line must you select?

If you happen to’re searching for a family-friendly cruise that everybody in your group will take pleasure in, you is likely to be evaluating Disney Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line. Each standard cruise corporations provide quite a lot of onboard experiences, top-notch service and full of life leisure that can preserve everybody in your loved ones having enjoyable daily.

The 2 traces provide tricked-out play areas for teenagers and adults-only solar decks and enjoyable bars for mother and pa. {Couples} searching for relaxation and rest and seniors wishing to play bingo or sip martinis can discover their glad place on both Carnival or Disney.

Each traces have sun-drenched itineraries that take passengers to the Bahamas and Caribbean, with seasonal sailings to the Mediterranean and Alaska.

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Nonetheless, there are many variations between the traces, beginning with value. Right here, we examine Disney Cruise Line and Carnival to see what they’ve in frequent and what they do not, so you possibly can determine the perfect cruise for you.

Dimension of ships


Disney Cruise Line has three lessons of ships whereas Carnival Cruise Line has eight.

The smaller ships on each cruise traces (Disney Cruise Line’s Magic class and Carnival Cruise Line’s Fantasy and Spirit lessons) carry between 2,000 and three,000 company.

Carnival’s midsize ships embrace the Conquest, Splendor, Vista and Dream lessons that may carry upward of 4,900 company at full capability. The midsize ships carry extra passengers than Disney Cruise Line’s largest ships (the Triton and Dream class), which have a most cruise capability of 4,000 passengers.

One other distinction in these two ship sizes is tonnage (primarily, how huge the ships are). Carnival’s midsize ships vary from 110,000 to 130,000 gross registered tonnage. Disney’s Dream-class ships are equal to Carnival’s bigger midsize ships at 130,000 gross tons, whereas the Triton class is bigger at 144,000 gross tons.

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Although Disney’s Triton-class ships are greater than Carnival’s Dream-class ships, Disney’s ships carry fewer folks, even at full capability. That makes for a better space-to-guest ratio and a much less crowded feeling on board.

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Carnival’s largest ships can accommodate over 6,400 folks at full capability.

On Carnival’s bigger Excel-class ships, equivalent to Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration, company will discover an abundance of facilities that are not accessible on the smaller and older ships like Carnival Elation. The Excel-class ships have a curler coaster, ropes course and a flex-space theater in the course of the ship with panoramic views of the ocean. Whereas the celebration vibe is excessive on Carnival Elation, Carnival’s smallest and oldest ship, the over-the-top facilities simply aren’t accessible.

What company crusing on Carnival will discover on each ship within the fleet is eating places from movie star cooks like Man Fieri, enjoyable waterslides, vibrant children golf equipment and an adults-only pool space often known as Serenity.

Disney Want, the primary ship in Disney Cruise Line’s Triton class of ships, feels completely different from the opposite 4 ships within the Disney fleet. Whereas the ship does have lots of the identical facilities, together with Disney-themed bars, thrilling children golf equipment, a slew of eating places and film theaters displaying first-run motion pictures, Disney Want has a extra upscale vibe than the ships within the Dream or Magic lessons.

On the flip facet, Disney Want does not have the adults-only district that the opposite 4 ships have. On these ships, lounges and bars are clustered collectively to create a real retreat with nighttime leisure for adults.

The three ships in Disney’s bigger Dream- and Triton-class ships function raft rides, together with the AquaMouse on Disney Want and the AquaDuck on Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. The smaller Disney Magic has a drop slide, known as the AquaDunk, that plunges company down a number of decks. Its sister ship Disney Surprise doesn’t have a significant water trip, although it does have a twisting waterslide as a part of its children splash space.

Each ship within the Carnival fleet is a floating resort with outside swimming pools, casinos, spas, bars and reside leisure going down day and night time. Disney ships even have that resort really feel however with out the on line casino and with extra devoted children areas.

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One of many greatest variations between Carnival Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line is the value of a crusing. Carnival is thought for its reasonably priced costs and plenty of drive-to departure ports across the U.S. (eliminating the necessity for the added expense of airfare). Disney’s costs are extra akin to a luxurious trip.

For instance, a weeklong crusing to the Japanese Caribbean in July 2024 begins at $909 for 2 folks in an inside cabin or $1,249 for 2 folks in a balcony cabin on Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras, one in all its latest and largest ships. The identical itinerary on Disney Fantasy begins at $5,171 for an inside cabin or $6,445 for a verandah cabin for 2 folks.

In 2024, the beginning price for a three-night Bahamas cruise is $189 per particular person on Carnival or $618 per particular person on Disney, each based mostly on double occupancy.

If the value is the figuring out issue of your trip, then Carnival is well the perfect worth for the value. Its ropes course, adults-only solar deck and plenty of of its eating choices (together with venues linked with movie star chef Man Fieri) are included within the fare. Simply you’ll want to look ahead to added charges that may improve the price of your cruise, equivalent to drinks packages, specialty eating, shore excursions and curler coaster rides.

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For many who have a bigger finances, Disney Cruise Line could also be a greater match with more-spacious ships, commonplace cabins created for households and a extra upscale really feel. Cruise fares embrace entry to first-run Disney, Marvel, Pixar and “Star Wars” motion pictures on the onboard theater, meals in a number of venues (typically with dinnertime leisure), nonalcoholic drinks (together with soda) and Disney’s high-quality leisure, from authentic musicals to deck events with character performances and fireworks.

Added prices on Disney embrace excursions, alcoholic drinks (Disney does not have onboard drinks packages to probably prevent cash) and specialty eating within the adults-only eating places.

Cabins and suites


Each cruise traces provide a wide selection of cabin kinds in varied value ranges for all sorts of households, together with windowless inside, ocean view, verandah (with a non-public balcony) and suite. Carnival and Disney provide connecting rooms and cabins that may sleep 4 or extra. Nevertheless, they range in design and format, with completely different specialty cabins and perks for the highest classes of lodging.

Disney Cruise Line is healthier if you need a cabin with just about the whole lot your loved ones wants on a cruise. Most of Disney’s commonplace cabins have the cruise line’s signature cut up lavatory (rest room and sink in a single room, sink and bathe in one other), which is useful for bigger households seeking to prepare for the day with ease. The cabins even have a big curtain dividing mother and pa’s mattress from the higher bunk and sleeper couch the children are sleeping on. Dad and mom can get a bit extra privateness and might preserve the lights on after child bedtime with out bothering sleeping youngsters.

One other enjoyable contact: The smaller inside rooms on Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy function a “magical porthole,” a window-shaped LED display screen with real-time views of the skin world, together with appearances by Disney characters.

Carnival’s commonplace cabins are extra informal, with loads of storage and colourful decor. The road does provide a few of the largest commonplace cabins within the cruise trade.

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Carnival presents extra specialty cabins and suites than Disney, for those who’re serious about a singular or themed room. A few of the specialty cabins embrace Havana suites which have entry to a non-public pool and lounge deck, the Cloud 9 Spa rooms which have unique perks like limitless use of the spa’s thermal suite, and Household Harbor cabins and suites that include entry to a family-friendly lounge full of snacks, board video games and TVs.

Each cruise traces have bigger suites with further facilities, however Disney will get the nod on this class.

Disney Cruise Line’s bigger concierge suites vary in model from household ocean-view cabins to lavish two-story suites, one in all which is positioned contained in the ahead funnel on Disney Want. Perks of reserving a concierge suite embrace entry to the concierge lounge, the place snacks and drinks can be found all day. Attentive hosts can e book specialty eating reservations, excursions and extra for your loved ones. Concierge company additionally get precedence entry to embark and disembark the ship and the primary choose of seats contained in the Walt Disney Theatre for reveals.

Newer Carnival ships have extra suites than older ships within the fleet, the place the nicest rooms are greater however not at all times fancy. On Carnival’s Excel-class ships, the Havana cabins and suites have entry to a non-public pool deck, and Cloud 9 Spa cabins include limitless entry to the ship’s thermal suite within the spa. Vacationers who choose a normal suite can take pleasure in entry to Loft 19, a non-public pool deck with loungers and cabanas, concierge service and an infinity whirlpool.

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Foods and drinks


Eating on each Carnival and Disney is ample, however Carnival leads the pack with its plentiful and attractive free choices, plus quite a lot of extra-fee specialty eating places. Disney is thought for its distinctive rotational eating plan and entertaining dinner reveals.

Carnival cruisers have their favourite meals locations on board every ship. For some, the movie star chef-led eating places pique their curiosity. They could go for complimentary burgers or barbecue at Man’s Burger Joint or Man’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse | Brewhouse, respectively, each of that are collaborations with movie star chef Man Fieri, or extra-fee New Orleans fare from Emeril Lagasse. Different cruisers benefit from the extra-cost basic steakhouses or Italian favorites at Cucina del Capitano.

Complimentary eating places are principally discovered on the pool decks and embrace a make-your-own taco and burrito bar, Italian-style pizza and a deli doling out sky-high sandwiches. The primary eating room will get excessive marks, particularly for its excellent Indian delicacies and iconic melting chocolate cake.

On Disney cruise ships, passengers aren’t assigned to 1 fundamental eating room, as they’re on Carnival, however rotate by three themed eating rooms with their waiters in tow. Every included restaurant has its personal set of menus and theme.

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Among the many three, you are more likely to discover yet another elegant eating area, a eating room with character interactions (just like the “Frozen” or “Tangled”-themed eating rooms on Disney Want and Disney Magic, respectively) and a restaurant with interactive components – equivalent to creating animations or taking down a Marvel villain – to maintain everybody occupied throughout mealtime.

Company can even take pleasure in complimentary fast-food fare (burgers, rooster strips, and so forth.) on the buffet and informal pool deck venues.

Disney ships provide minimal extra-fee eating places, with Disney Magic and Disney Surprise providing only one and Disney Want, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy that includes two. All are adults-only. The spotlight of all 5 ships is Palo (Palo Steakhouse on Disney Want), which options elevated Italian delicacies with sweeping ocean views. On Disney’s bigger ships, Remy and Enchante are French positive eating eating places superb for date night time or celebrating one in all life’s many milestones.

Youngsters actions


It doesn’t matter what age your children are, they are going to discover loads of enjoyable inside the children golf equipment on board each traces’ cruise ships. Each traces have impeccable packages that preserve children entertained all through the day with age-appropriate actions and completely different areas for teenagers of all ages. For youthful children, you simply cannot beat the scale and innovation of Disney’s Oceaneer Membership.

On Carnival, Camp Ocean divides junior cruisers ages 2 to 11 into three age-based teams and presents actions like video games, motion pictures and crafts. Carnival additionally has a Suess at Sea program, and children can take part in actions impressed by Dr. Suess books and meet favourite characters just like the Cat within the Hat.

Youngsters ages 2 to 11 serious about area can even be a part of the Area Cruisers program, the place children study area exploration and take part in actions developed in partnership with NASA’s Kennedy Area Heart Customer Advanced.

Over at Circle “C,” teenagers ages 12 to 14 have a hangout spot that is all their very own with counselor-led actions like dance events, video games and outside motion pictures. Older teenagers ages 15 to 17 head to Membership O2 to take pleasure in karaoke classes, motion pictures and video video games with their friends.

Carnival doesn’t have a nursery for teenagers beneath age 2, however at night time, mother and father can drop their children off at Evening Owls, the place children ages 6 months to 11 years can take pleasure in video games, actions and events or get some relaxation till 1 a.m.

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Disney Cruise Line has a few of the most spectacular children golf equipment at sea. Youngsters ages 3 to 12 can take pleasure in Disney’s Oceaneer Membership on all 5 ships, although the themed areas are completely different from ship to ship. Inside this area, children can take pleasure in studying how you can fly the Millennium Falcon in a “Star Wars”-themed space or constructing curler coasters on the Walt Disney Imagineering Lab. Youngsters can even see and play with their favourite Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Thor.

Tweens and teenagers even have their very own areas on the Disney fleet with Edge and Vibe, respectively. As on Carnival, teenagers can take pleasure in counselor-led actions like trivia contests, shipwide scavenger hunts and even a movie-making course.

In contrast to Carnival, Disney does have a nursery for teenagers ages 6 months to three years. Dad and mom can reserve instances to drop their children off on the nursery on-line or as soon as on board the ship, and the minimal reservation time is one hour. There’s a small price to make use of the nursery, however it may be useful for fogeys who wish to take pleasure in specialty eating or the spa. The nursery can be open whereas in port, so mother and father can drop their children off if they’ve a deliberate tour or wish to discover on their very own.

Onboard points of interest


Carnival is thought for its over-the-top higher decks the place households can have thrilling adventures all through the crusing. Its WaterWorks water parks function waterslides and splash pads for each thrill stage on most ships. Most even have sports activities courts and minigolf.

Beginning with the Dream class of ships, the outside decks function an added ropes course; on the Vista-class ships, the higher decks embrace a suspended bicycle that goes across the perimeter of a deck. Carnival’s latest ships – Mardi Gras, Celebration and the upcoming Jubilee – all function a curler coaster, water park and ropes course.

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On Disney Cruise Line, the actions are way more subdued however nonetheless thrilling. Every ship has massive outside swimming pools, and most have a raft trip or slide.

On Disney Magic, the water trip is a drop-floor physique slide known as the AquaDunk, whereas Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy function a family-friendly raft trip across the prime deck of the ships known as the AquaDuck. On Disney Want, the household raft trip is the AquaMouse, which additionally goes across the fringe of the ship however consists of snippets of cute Mickey Mouse cartoons. The Disney Surprise does not have one of many huge slides, however does have a vibrant yellow double-looping waterslide known as the Twist ‘n’ Spout slide.

Different onboard points of interest embrace interactive video games that includes Disney characters and a salon the place children can get made up as princesses and pirates. Disney additionally has film theaters displaying Disney classics and first-run motion pictures.

Carnival and Disney Cruise Line each provide pool decks open to everybody, in addition to adults-only solar decks. (Carnival’s have sizzling tubs, whereas Disney’s even have a pool.)



Disney Cruise Line and Carnival have completely different leisure kinds, however you may by no means be tired of a lot occurring round any of the ships.

Disney excels with its Broadway-caliber reside reveals, that are both digital retellings of Disney motion pictures equivalent to “Magnificence and the Beast,” “Tangled” or “Frozen,” or authentic productions that includes characters from a number of motion pictures and themes across the energy of wishing and magic.

Adults will even discover leisure only for them on the varied adults-only golf equipment and bars on board, with comedians and selection acts performing all through the crusing. (Word that in contrast to Carnival, Disney Cruise Line doesn’t provide a flat-fee all-you-can-drink bundle.)

Company on board Disney’s ships are additionally aware of seeing Disney characters across the decks, whether or not it is at scheduled meet-and-greets or shock instances when households unexpectedly run into the likes of Captain Minnie Mouse or Spider-Man. Probably the most standard meet-and-greet instances is the Princess Gathering, a chance to satisfy a number of Disney princesses on the similar time.

Disney Cruise Line can be recognized for its Pirate Evening deck celebration on all 5 ships. The swashbuckling enjoyable consists of scheduled character meet-and-greets with Disney pirates equivalent to Captain Hook and Captain Jack Sparrow, and themed menus and waiter apparel at dinner. The end result of the occasion is a large deck celebration with singing, dancing and appearances by Disney characters adopted by a fireworks show.

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Carnival is thought for its onboard variations of TV reveals like “Deal or No Deal” and “Household Feud,” and its comedy reveals at The Punchliner Comedy Membership. A number of visitor comedians come aboard each crusing to carry out family-friendly reveals in the course of the day and spicy adults-only reveals after the solar goes down.

The road’s high-tech musical reveals, known as Playlist Productions, are value testing, too. Every present is beneath an hour and options standard tunes carried out by reside singers backed up by energetic dancers.

Each cruise traces even have a roster of small-group musical acts that entertain company in lounges and bars across the ship, although Carnival’s reside music choices are extra different than Disney’s. They function the whole lot from tribute bands to tropical metal drum sounds. If you happen to’re feeling like changing into the leisure, Carnival presents karaoke virtually each night time across the ship.

Disney’s reside music is usually regulated to the atrium of the ship throughout mealtimes, when the area is full of folks coming and going from the close by restaurant, or within the adults-only areas after darkish. If you wish to sing your coronary heart out to your favourite Disney tune, the D Lounge is the spot to be on the Magic- and Dream-class ships.

Each cruise traces have basic cruise leisure like bingo, trivia and video games for the household.

Who’s on board?

Carnival is thought for its reasonably priced cruises with departures from quite a few U.S. homeports, attracting vacationers preferring to drive relatively than fly to their departure port. The informal cruise line’s “Enjoyable Ship” fleet sees a principally American crowd, together with loads of younger adults, multigenerational households and huge teams touring collectively. Many individuals e book Carnival for its low cruise fares, full of life and informal ambiance, tasty free meals and ease of journey.

Disney Cruise Line’s passenger base is a mixture of American and worldwide vacationers. Whereas the cruise line primarily welcomes households with youthful children on board, you may additionally see {couples} with out children and grownup vacationers who’ve fond recollections of Disney from their childhood. The gang on Disney is a little more upscale than Carnival, partly due to the upper fares (even for probably the most primary cabins) and the flamboyant suites with concierge service and perks on Disney.


Carnival sails from 14 completely different ports round america, so there’s possible a ship setting sail inside driving distance of your loved ones for those who reside close to the coast. Cruises take passengers to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Alaska, Canada and New England, Bermuda and Mexico. The cruise line does provide some European sailings, restricted cruises round Australia and two 2024 Asia sailings.

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Disney focuses its consideration on North America, with ships making their strategy to the Caribbean, Bahamas (house to the road’s thrilling personal island, Castaway Cay, and upcoming personal vacation spot Lighthouse Level), Mexican Riviera, Pacific Coast and Alaska. Disney Dream units sail in Europe over the summer time months. Disney additionally takes company to worldwide locations just like the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia.

Backside line

First-time cruisers will discover that each traces have an abundance of actions and top-notch service. Decide Disney Cruise Line for those who’re searching for a extra upscale ambiance and loads of kid-friendly actions, and do not thoughts Disney theming and characters all over the place. Select Carnival for those who’re on a finances however nonetheless wish to maximize the quantity of enjoyable you might have onboard.

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