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Disney Cruise Line Review

U.S. News Travel
  • Overall Rating: 4.5stars 4.3 4.3
  • Expert Rating:4.0stars 4.0
  • Traveler Rating:4.5stars 4.4
    • Couples: 4.4
    • Families w/ young children: 4.4
    • Families w/ older children: 4.5
    • Singles/Friends: 4.6
    • Groups: 4.5
  • Health Rating:
    4.5
    4.5

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 2015 itineraries offer trips to Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean and the California coast along with Panama Canal and trans-Atlantic crossings. Voyages can last anywhere from two to 15 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 kayaking along the Dalmatian coastline in Dubrovnik, Croatia. 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, 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). Most excursions require ...

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.
  • To reserve your Disney cruise, you must pay a deposit fee upon 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. Passengers who have booked a cruise lasting fewer than 10 days (that's departing or returning to a U.S. port) and are staying in suite or concierge rooms will forfeit only the deposit amount when canceling a Disney cruise 45 days or more ahead of the scheduled departure date. In order for non-suite passengers to receive a full refund less the deposit amount, they must notify Disney of a cancellation 45 to 74 days prior to the cruise start date. If you notify Disney 30 to 44 days prior to departure, you may receive a 50 percent refund of the price of your cruise; if you notify Disney 15 to 29 days prior to departure, you may receive a 25 percent refund. If you miss these deadlines and cancel your cruise within 14 days of your scheduled departure date, you will receive no refund for your cruise fare. Different cancellation policies apply to cruises that last 10 days or longer, or voyages leaving or arriving outside the U.S. For more information on the cancellation policy, visit Disney Cruise's terms and conditions page.
  • To avoid losing money for unforeseen circumstances, like illness or delays that could result in the cancellation of your trip, you may purchase Disney's Vacation Protection Plan. This insurance 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 2015 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.
  • Babysitting services are available for guests between 3 months and 3 years old. Passengers can reserve babysitting times online in advance of departure or they can sign up on embarkation day. Rates and availability times vary by cruise and day.
  • Disney also provides several age-specific youth clubs for kids. Youngsters between the ages of 3 and 12 can retreat to supervised youth clubs during the day, while kids ages 11 to 14 can head to their own private space called Edge for games and activities. Meanwhile, teens ages 14 to 17 can retreat to the exclusive Vibe lounge.

Before You Board

  • Disney does not require you to obtain vaccinations prior to your cruise, but it's recommended that you check the CDC for current regulations. You may also consult the World Health Organization for a list of vaccines required on a country-by-country basis.
  • Service gratuities are not included in your cruise fare; however, if you wish to pay gratuity in advance, you may do so via phone with Disney Cruise Line customer service via phone, or through the online Planning Center. You can make this adjustment to your reservation up to three days prior to your departure. If you miss the deadline to prepay gratuities, you can also add suggested gratuity amounts to your onboard account. Suggested gratuity varies by cruise length; for example dining room service gratuity can range from $12 to $28.
  • 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 require special assistance, such as a wheelchair-accessible room or American Sign Language interpretation, you must notify Disney at least 30 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 babysitting services in Flounder's Reef Nursery.
  • Check-in begins at 11 a.m., with embarkation beginning at 1 p.m., for cruises to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. All passengers must be board the ship no later than 4 p.m. Check-in and embarkation for European and Mediterranean cruises typically commences at 11 a.m.
  • Along with a proof of citizenship and a passport, you will need to bring the completed and signed Guest Ticket Booklet or a printed and signed Online Cruise Contract and Payment Authorization Form (if you fill out your cruise documents using the My Online Check-In tool found at disneycruise.com).
  • You can pre-book shore excursions online starting 120 days prior to your cruise 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 Cruiseline.com.