Disney Cruise Line Review

U.S. News Travel
  • Overall Rating: 4.0stars 4.2 4.2
  • Expert Rating:4.0stars 4.0
  • Traveler Rating:4.5stars 4.3
    • Couples: 4.2
    • Families w/ young children: 4.2
    • Families w/ older children: 4.3
    • Singles/Friends: 4.5
    • Groups: 4.3
  • Health Rating:

Disney Cruise Line Overview

How it Ranks: Disney has been ranked based on an expert evaluation of the line's level of luxury, as well as an assessment of user reviews and health ratings. Disney Cruise Line appears on the following ranking lists:

Disney Cruise Line's four ships — Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy — receive kudos from families and critics alike for their kid-friendly atmosphere, whimsical amenities and spacious staterooms. The cruise line's Disney theme is understated enough that sentimental adults looking to reconnect with their childhood fantasies will enjoy sailing just as much as the kids: Each ship boasts secluded adult pools, restaurants and lounges. Although Disney's ships vary in size, on each vessel you'll find approximately one crew member for every three passengers. Disney's 2016 itineraries offer trips to Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean and Canada. Voyages can last anywhere from three to 12 days, with cruise lengths varying by itinerary and destination. Shore excursions, known as Port Adventures, also change according to itinerary and include everything from horseback riding through Puerto Rico's El Yunque National Rainforest to white water rafting on the Glacier River in Reykjavik, Iceland. Once you return to your ship, you'll find plenty of family-oriented facilities, including themed pools, youth clubs and spa and fitness centers. You'll also have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of Disney-inspired entertainment, like live shows, movies and character meet and greets. The Disney experience permeates the fleet's onboard restaurants as well, with each of the cruise line's main dining rooms incorporating a different Disney character or story. For a more intimate dining experience, you can enjoy the sophisticated adults-only venues Palo, which boasts fresh Italian cuisine, and Remy, which offers French fare.

Pros & Cons

  • Meals, non-alcoholic drinks and onboard entertainment covered in cruise fare
  • Florida residents are eligible to receive special cruise rates
  • Spacious cabins
  • Not all onboard amenities included in cruise cost
  • Shore excursions cost an additional fee
  • Few adults-only activities

On Board

Disney cruises are geared toward multigenerational families with young children. However the cruise line also offers adults-only entertainment as well as specialty restaurants, quiet pools and nightclubs on each ship. These sparsely used onboard amenities, along with generously sized staterooms, can also appeal to singles, couples and honeymooners. Keep in mind that you're most likely to encounter families (and crowds) during the summer months and holidays when kids enjoy time off from school.

More about the onboard experience»

On Shore

During days docked at port, you can explore on your own or with Disney's Port Adventures. These shore excursions are operated by independent contractors separate from Disney Cruise Line and vary by port, excursion type, age range and activity level (from mild to moderate to active). While the minimum ...

More about the on shore experience»

Before You Book

  • You must be at least 18 years old to book a Disney cruise and travel on your own.
  • A deposit is due at the time of booking. The deadline for your full cruise payment depends on your cruise length, stateroom category and embarkation and disembarkation ports.
  • Cancellation fees fluctuate based on your cruise duration, type of accommodation and embarkation and disembarkation ports. For more information on the cancellation policy, visit Disney Cruise's terms and conditions page.
  • Disney recommends you purchase their Vacation Protection Plan that covers trip cancellation/interruption, emergency medical and dental services, baggage coverage, baggage delay and emergency medical transportation. The insurance plan also offers another advantage: If you cancel your cruise for any reason not listed above, you'll receive a cruise credit of up to 75 percent of the cancellation fee to apply toward a future Disney voyage. 
  • For 2016 sailings, Disney requires passengers to be at least 6 months old to sail on most cruises, though some trans-Atlantic, Hawaiian and Panama Canal itineraries require guests to be 1 year or older.

Before You Board

  • Disney does not require you to obtain vaccinations prior to your cruise, but it's recommended that you check the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization for current regulations and a list of vaccines required on a country-by-country basis.
  • Service gratuities are not included in your cruise fare. If you wish to pay gratuity in advance, you may do so via phone with Disney Cruise Line customer service or through the online Planning Center up to three days prior to departure. You can also add gratuity amounts to your onboard account. If you miss the deadline to prepay gratuities, you can also add gratuity amounts to your onboard account. Suggested gratuity varies by cruise length. 
  • A nurse and physician are available to provide basic medical services 24 hours a day, however, treatment costs are not included in your cruise fare. If you have a disability or have special medical needs, you must notify Disney at least 60 days prior to your sail date. Also, keep in mind if your child exhibits flu-like symptoms, they will be prohibited from participating in onboard activities and baby-sitting services.
  • Along with a proof of citizenship and a passport, you will need to bring a signed Online Cruise Contract and Payment Authorization Form (if you fill out your cruise documents using the My Online Check-In tool).
  • You can pre-book shore excursions online starting 120 days prior to your departure. You can cancel Port Adventures reservations up to three days ahead of the cruise departure date. If you miss this deadline, you will not receive a refund.
  • Shore excursion age requirements vary according to excursion. Individuals younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult to partake in shore excursions, unless the activity is designated as "teens only."
  • If you would like to dine in one of Disney's adults-only restaurants, Palo or Remy, it's recommended you make reservations online or by phone. You may make your reservations up to 75 days prior to your sail date or complete your reservations once on board.

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Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship's Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship's Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by