A Disney cruise certainly isn’t cheap, especially compared to other cruise operators. But what compared to other types of Disney vacations?
For many travelers, a Disney cruise actually comes out cheaper than a trip to Walt Disney World.
To better understand Disney Cruise Line vs. Disney World costs, NerdWallet analyzed prices for two people sharing a room in three price tiers: Value, Medium, or Deluxe.
The cost of a Disney World trip includes four categories:
- Park Tickets (and add-ons, such as Genie+,
- Hotel room rates at the property.
- Dine at Park Restaurant.
- Add-on activities, such as spa treatments and tours.
Cruise prices are mostly all-inclusive, so the analysis only includes:
- Base rates (inclusive of taxes and fees).
- Add-on Activities.
Here’s a closer look at the cost figures for Disney Cruise Line vs. Disney World.
Disney Cruise Line vs. Disney World: An Overall Cost Comparison
While the data doesn’t definitively determine whether one is cheaper every time, there are some clear trends.
For longer trips (eg, seven nights), ships are always cheaper. Cruises are an even better deal for deluxe-style voyages, which have larger or fancier rooms, as well as activities like spa services.
Here are the average prices for each type of trip:
What’s Included in a Disney Cruise?
While the base cost of a Disney cruise is relatively high, you won’t pay much more once onboard. Cruises include:
Single room for two, plus taxes and port fees: Stateroom prices assume double occupancy, so solo travelers pay the same as a couple. They also include taxes and port fees, which vary by location but are usually around 15% of the stateroom cost. Overcrowding of more than two people in each room incurs an additional cost.
Disney’s newest ship, Disney Wish, the lowest-cost, includes a queen bed inside the stateroom, convertible sofa bed, pull-down bed and bathroom, as well as a mini refrigerator and TV.
All meals (except some advanced options): Food is free except in some expensive restaurants, alcohol and advanced options. You can eat all you want from the onboard restaurant or order complimentary room service (available 24 hours).
Soft drinks are included with meals and at some outposts such as the teens-only lounge – but bars and lounges cost extra. Alcohol is always extra, although Disney lets you bring a limited amount of alcohol.
Most Entertainment and Activities: Once onboard, you’re free to attend Broadway-quality shows, jump in pools, hit the gym, hit nightclubs, and meet the rotating characters.
What is not included in the Disney cruise?
There are some additional costs that you will almost certainly encounter onboard. Additional costs include:
Gratuity: While not required, they are recommended. Disney suggests $14.50 per person, per night (about $100 extra per person on a seven-night cruise). Disney automatically adds an 18% gratuity for some optional add-ons like spa services and wine.
Shipping to Ship: You’re on your own to get to the port, though Disney can help coordinate shuttles (for an additional fee, of course). Note that NerdWallet did not include Disney World’s transportation expenses in its analysis.
Disney may try to sell passengers upgrades and add-ons, but you can still have an enjoyable cruise if you skip them:
Port Adventures: Upon docking, you are free to explore on your own, which is in theory free. Or, you can pay Disney to take you around via organized excursion. Some are inexpensive, like renting a bike (usually less than $20). Others cost more, such as historical sightseeing tours and guided scuba dives. Some run many thousands of dollars, such as a seaplane ride through the Misty Fjords National Monument on some Alaskan cruises.
WIFI: Internet access costs extra. Prices vary by itinerary, although this is rare. Free Wi-Fi on any cruise,
Some onboard entertainment and activities: You can pay extra for a princess tea party, personal training or a golf simulator.
What Costs Should You Account for on a Disney World Trip?
At Disney World, you typically pay for dining and entertainment à la carte. While most of the experience is included once inside the park, you’re still paying for tickets to get inside and for food at restaurants.
So with that, here are some of the costs you should expect to encounter at Disney World, broken down by service level:
disney world ticket prices
Disney World ticket prices vary by park and date. An average Magic Kingdom ticket (usually the most expensive park) costs $160 for a one-day ticket, although prices drop the longer you stay. NerdWallet found that the average five-day, one-park-per-day ticket cost $643, which breaks down to $129 per day.
Disney sells additional add-ons Park Hopper Tickets allowing you to visit or access multiple parks every day Lightning Lane Entrancewhich are priority queues for certain attractions.
Disney World Hotels
There are over 30 Disney-owned hotels in Disney World. Rooms at affordable Disney All-Star properties run as low as $128 per night, according to Disney price tracking site Touring Plans.
Disney World Dining Cost
It’s difficult to compare Disney World vs. Disney Cruise Line dining, given that the cruises are all-you-can-eat. Disney World has buffets and restaurants with à la carte meals and snacks.
Those with light appetites (or those who pack snacks) may find Disney World more pricey than the cruise. But cruises can offer significant savings for those who take advantage of all-you-can-eat meals.
On both the cruises and at Disney World, you can stay entertained without opening your wallet (yes, there is plenty of free stuff to do at Disney World outside of the theme parks). But it’s more realistic to assume that someone will pay for additional activities like spa services, snorkel rentals, mini golf or cruise Wi-Fi.
Depending on trip length and price level, NerdWallet’s sample budget includes additional entertainment line items:
In general, cruisers should budget more for add-on activities than Disney World vacationers. However, even the most frugal travelers are likely to pay a little more for add-ons during a weeklong Disney World trip.
Don’t write off a cruise just because the upfront cost is more than a Disney hotel room. A cruise is more than a place to sleep—it’s also food and entertainment. When budgeting for a Disney World trip, budget for theme park tickets, meals, and all the other incidental costs that go along with it.
Both tours are growing in popularity. In 2022, Disney saw a 51% increase in occupied hotel room nights at all of its resorts and a 32% increase in passenger cruise days, according to its fiscal 2022 annual financial report – suggesting that the theme parks Interest is growing faster than the cruise.
But for vacationers looking for any sort of Disney fix — especially those for a week or longer who prefer more luxurious accommodations — it can be cheaper than going to Disney World.
Sam Kemis and Carissa Rawson contributed to this report.
(Top photo courtesy of Disney)
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Article Which Is Cheaper: Disney World or Disney Cruise? Originally appeared on NerdWallet.
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