Disney cruises are popular for many reasons – for their family-friendly amenities, attention to detail, and commitment to providing family magic.
If you are a regular reader here, you know that I’m an avid cruiser on the Disney Cruise Line. After three sailings on the Disney Fantasy, one on the Disney Wonder, seven on the Disney Dream, and one on the Disney Magic, I’ve had the chance to experience Disney’s newest ship – the Disney Wish, twice. If you are considering a trip on the Disney Cruise Line, you may be wondering what is the best Disney Cruise Line ship for your family vacation.
It’s difficult to answer that without looking at the various itineraries as well as comparing the sizes, restaurants, amenities, and more on the Disney Cruise ships. Here are our comparisons.
Disclosure: I’ve been on one complimentary media preview cruise as well as two cruises as part of Disney Social Media Moms. The rest of my cruises were at my own cost. All opinions are my own.
Comparing the Disney Cruise Ships
Itineraries on the Disney Cruise Ships
Before deciding which ship to sail on, you’ll definitely want to look at the various itineraries offered. After all, a Mediterranean cruise is much, much different than an Alaskan cruise. Itinerary and ports of call really should be your first consideration when deciding which ship on the Disney Cruise Line fleet you’ll want to sail on.
The Disney Fantasy always leaves from the Port Canaveral cruise port and sails on seven-day itineraries in the Eastern and Western Caribbean. Ports include Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Jamaica, the US Virgin Islands, and of course, Castaway Cay.
The Fantasy’s sister ship, the Disney Dream, used to leave from Port Canaveral but now departs from Miami for part of the year. The Dream also has sailings from Fort Lauderdale, San Juan, New York, and Europe.
The other two ships, the Disney Wonder and the Disney Magic have typically traveled around a bit more. Itineraries (especially in the winter) change year by year, but the Wonder typically goes to Alaska, while the Magic has itineraries departing from San Diego, Miami, Galveston, New Orleans, and San Juan.
Several years ago, I traveled on the Disney Magic from the Miami cruise port to Castaway Cay and Key West. That itinerary was so much fun, and the four-day trip was the perfect amount of time for our girls’ trip.
Once you look at the itineraries, you’ll definitely have a good idea of which Disney Cruise Line ship you’ll want to be on, especially if you plan to travel on an itinerary that only one ship offers.
Size of the Disney Cruise Ships
There are currently three different classes of Disney Cruise Ships. The original ships, the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are called the Magic class and are smaller. These ships accommodate a maximum of 2,700 passengers.
The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy are the Dream class ships, which accommodate a maximum of 4,000 passengers. The new Triton Class ships (the Disney Wish) also accommodate 4,000 but are a bit bigger in Gross Tonnage.
The smaller ships definitely do feel more intimate but don’t have as many amenities.
Restaurants on the Disney Cruise Ships
While all of the dining rooms on the Disney Cruise Line are fun and offer lots of delicious food options, they do vary by ship. Animator’s Palate, as well as the premium, adult-only Palo, are offered on all original four ships.
Each of the original four ships has a French-themed restaurant, although the names and themes are different. There are also three incredibly fun-themed restaurants – Tiana’s Place on the Disney Wonder, Arendelle on the Disney Wish, and Rapunzel’s Royal Table on the Disney Magic. In addition to dinner, you’ll also be entertained while eating at these three restaurants.
Each of the ships offers free ice cream, as well as a premium coffee bar. They all have various snack options available throughout the day, including pizza, sandwiches, and salads. The Disney Dream also offers a premium ice cream/dessert spot, called Vanellope’s. Everything in Vanellope’s is offered at an additional fee.
In addition to Palo, there are other adult-only restaurants on some of the ships. The Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream offer Remy, while the Disney Wish has Enchante.
For breakfast and lunch, each of the four original ships has the Cabanas buffet, with both indoor and outdoor seating. On the Wish, there’s Marceline Market, which is similar to a buffet but with servers plating the food.
Bars and Lounges on the Disney Cruise Ships
While most people travel with kids on the Disney Cruise Line, there are still bars and lounges that adults can enjoy. Since many kids will likely spend much of their time in the phenomenal kids’ clubs on board, adults will have lots of opportunities to visit the adult-only areas.
The Disney Fantasy offers a whole area of the ship called Europa, filled with European-themed bars and lounges. Ooh La La, a champagne bar, is my personal favorite.
The Disney Dream ship features the District, which is similar to Europa. It’s located in the same area of the ship, and has similar bars. Instead of Ooh La La, their champagne bar is called Pink. My favorite bar of all the ships is the Meridian Lounge, which is located between Palo and Remy on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.
The Disney Wonder and Disney Magic also have bars and lounges. The Wonder has the After Hours adult area with several lounges. In most cases, the bars and lounges are open to kids during the day, but are adult only in the evenings.
On the Wish, two of my favorite bars are the Bayou, and Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge. These two themed, unique lounges are great for a drink before or after dinner.
Programming at these bars, including games and entertainment, is sometimes offered – check your Disney Cruise Line app for details.
Staterooms on the Disney Cruise Ships
While there are some differences between the staterooms on the ships, for the most part, they are very much alike. They offer similar features, and while they are small, they are also comfortable.
My family of four regularly stays in a Deluxe Family Stateroom with Verandah, and we find it to be enough room. We don’t spend too much time in the room because there’s so much to do on the ship.
The Disney Wish, Disney’s newest ship, offers even more concierge rooms than any of the other Disney cruise ships.
Amenities on the Disney Cruise Ships
All of the ships offer a number of amenities that families will love. These ships were clearly built with families in mind.
Each ship offers a pool deck with splash areas and the Funnel Vision signature television screen showing Disney movies throughout the day. On the Disney Fantasy and Dream, you’ll also be able to go on the Aquaduck water coaster. It’s so much fun, and you’ll want to go more than once.
While the Disney Magic and Wonder don’t have the AquaDuck, the Disney Magic does have the AquaDunk, a high-speed water slide tube. The Disney Wish has a new coaster, called the AquaMouse.
There are also sports decks with various amenities, depending on the ship. The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy have sports simulators, but you’ll need to make reservations for that in advance.
The ships also all have kids’ clubs, Senses spas, hot tubs, shops, and much more. I also recommend walking around the ship when you first arrive so you can learn about everything that is available to you.
Activities on the Disney Cruise Ships
Each of the ships offers lots of activities, including first-run Disney movies in the movie theater (the Wish has two theaters) and Broadway-style stage live shows in the Walt Disney Theater. The shows do vary by ship, but I’ve seen all of them and everyone is fantastic.
My favorite show is currently Frozen, which plays on the Wonder. A close runner-up to that is a new Beauty and the Beast show that runs on the Disney Dream. Other newer shows are Aladdin on the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Wish, the Little Mermaid on the Disney Wish, and Tangled on the Disney Magic.
Other activities include family and adult game shows, beverage-tasting seminars, Bingo, and animation classes. There are also Disney character greetings on every ship. Check the Navigatornapp to see the full schedule of events.
Ships typically have a pirate night during one night of the cruise. It’s so much fun – definitely go to the fireworks if there’s a pirate night during your cruise.
On the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream, kids will love the Midship Detective Agency. This free game lets you become a detective while finding clues throughout the midship section of the boat. When my kids were younger, we’d accompany them on their quest. Once they were a bit older, they loved the freedom of doing it on their own.
The Disney Wish has a new augmented reality experience, called Disney Uncharted Adventure. It works with the app, and ends with a live event.
So, what is the best Disney Cruise Line ship?
My personal favorite is the Disney Fantasy, the second-newest ship in the fleet (for now). However, that was the first Disney ship that I traveled on, so I’m not sure if that’s why it’s my favorite.
Others really love the Magic. As a smaller ship, it’s definitely more quaint and it’s easier to walk around. I do love the shows on the Magic, as well as the restaurants.
It’s really hard to say which is the best Disney cruise ship because they are all great!
What is your favorite Disney Cruise ship?
Frequently Asked Questions
All of the ships have teen clubs and other great amenities. My teens loved the Disney Wish, which also has the Hero Zone which is where you can play basketball, ping pong, and other sports indoors. But when choosing a ship for teens, I’d focus on the itinerary first.
As someone who sometimes cruises without my kids, I appreciate the adult-only sections. My favorite adult-only area is Satellite Falls, an outdoor sun deck area that is on the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream.
I also really love the Rainforest Room in the Senses Spa on the Disney Wish. While all of the ships have Rainforest Rooms (for an additional fee), the one on the Wish is the largest and has a great outdoor area.
More Disney Cruise Ships Resources: Click to read more about the Disney Cruise Line ships including restaurants, tips, itineraries, activities, and more.