As many of you know, we have recently returned from our first Disney Cruise. A land and sea adventure where we spend three days at Walt Disney World and also went on a three night cruise to the Bahamas including Disney’ private island, Castaway Cay.
Now that we are home and preparing for our 2019 trips and we have discovered a new (to us) dilemma. Disney Cruise or Disney Parks.
To clarify this conundrum, we have several trips already planned or in the works for Walt Disney World in 2019. The reason we plan most of our trips farther in advance is because of Bryson’s job. He has less allocated vacation time than I do and there are certain times of the month that he is unable to leave or needs to make sure he has sufficient coverage for his areas of responsibility.
Now that we have cruised with Disney, we find ourselves drawn to Disney Cruise vlogs and blogs and pouring over Disney Cruise Line itineraries. Interestingly enough, when we first got back, we asked ourselves and had an in depth conversation about, if we would want to spend our big Christmas vacation at Walt Disney World or on a Very Merrytime Cruise.
Drum roll please… for both of us it was a no-brainer. For us, we would prefer to spend our Christmas trip at Walt Disney World than on a cruise. There are several reasons for this. We find that the parks are full of more Christmas and Disney magic than the cruise was.
If you are a die-hard cruiser, you are probably violently typing a message to me right now about how the cruises are better. How the magic of the cruise anytime, especially during a Very Merrytime cruise far outweighs the magic of the parks. I fully respect that and believe you. For us, in our opinion and how we like to experience Disney magic, the parks are where it’s at for us.
We can’t imagine a Holiday season without Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The unique character meet and greet opportunities, the decorations, the parade, the snow on Main Street, the treats.
Candlelight Processional is one of the highlights of our Christmas. We look forward to it all year and it is a tradition for us.
Resort Hopping during the holidays at Walt Disney World is pure magic. From the rustic, cozy decor at Wilderness Lodge, the grandeur of the Grand Floridian, the beachy holiday vibes at Beach Club, Yacht Club and the Polynesian and the amazing African decor of Animal Kingdom, there is a resort and a holiday theme for every taste during Christmas in Walt Disney World.
A Very Merrytime Cruise has its perks as well. The crowds are less although I will say, that the three-night cruises seemed much more packed than what we have seen and heard of other cruise adventures. There is a magical tree lighting experience, Christmas trees throughout the ship, you have unique photo opportunities with Mickey and Minnie and the gang in the Cruise Line version of their holiday best.
But, for us, the Christmas magic of the cruise line pales in comparison to the holiday spirit conveyed throughout Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts.
What about other times of year? We know that we don’t want to do another three night cruise. For us, and again, this is just our opinion, a three night cruise is not worth it. We want to relax on the cruise and we don’t feel as though the three night allows you the chance to get that ultimate relaxation.
This is where it starts to get difficult for us. Booking a Disney Cruise during a different time of the year. A Disney Cruise would replace one of our trips to Walt Disney World so which trip would we want to replace?
Our February trip is off the table because I am participating in the Princess Half Marathon. Next up would be Bryson’s Birthday trip in May. He has gone back and forth about whether or not he would rather cruise it park hop for this b-day this year so that has been one of the options we have considered.
The next most logical option for us would be to replace our Food and Wine trip with a cruise. But, Food and Wine is awesome. Do you see our dilemma here?
We will most likely book several weekend trips this year like we did last year. These trips only require one or two days off. We leave on the midnight flight on Thursday or Friday night and return on an early flight either Monday or Tuesday. These are a lot easier than a cruise because most cruises, cruise during the week. The notable exception being the three-night cruise to the Bahamas but we are not interested in taking that cruise again.
The conundrum continues.
Park Pros: (In our humble opinion)
- Wall to Wall Disney Magic
Everywhere you go on Walt Disney World property, there is magic. From the impeccable theming at the Walt Disney World Resorts to the parks to the transportation. There is o fireworks show quite like the ones Disney puts on. In our opinion, the magic on the Disney Cruise Line pales in comparison to the magic at Walt Disney World.
DisneyWorld is where we have hundreds of amazing memories. Walt envisioned Main Street USA, everywhere you walk, there is something to remind you of Walt Disney, of his imagination, of his dreams, of the world he created for us to enjoy and escape to. There is absolutely nothing on the Disney Cruise Line that compares to the nostalgia of walking down Main Street USA, seeing the castle, watching the fireworks, seeing Spaceship Earth, riding the iconic rides.
We can book a trip and only a couple of days later be on a plane to a last minute trip to Walt Disney World. As Annual Passholders, we don’t pay for tickets because we already paid for the year, if we can’t find a great deal, we can get down there for a couple hundred bucks and as DVC members, we might be able to stay on points or we could experience a resort at whatever price point we are comfortable with.
It is so simple for us to head out for a weekend adventure but with a cruise, it is more of a production and more moving parts, not to mention, specific dates that we can cruise on. There is less flexibility.
4. Neverending experiences.
You can never live the same Disney day twice so you are always exploring and always finding new gems and new things to do. Disney is constantly evolving their parks and although there is amazing details and hidden gems on the cruise, like the kids areas, the funnel vision, the characters and when the ship goes into dry dock, sometimes they come out with new and fun things to explore and experience, there is only so much a cruise ship can do to expand and change while the parks are always expanding, always changing and Walt Disney World property is so vast, it is impossible to experience everything.
Although we have certainly never experienced everything to experience at Walt Disney World, it is home for us. We know our way around, have the things we always have to do, things we always try to do. We get into a rhythm. We know where stuff is, we know how to get there, we just have a familiarity with Walt Disney World property and it helps us to create a more relaxed vacation, even at Walt Disney World, where relaxation is not necessarily the name of the game.
There are times of the year that we flat out will not plan a trip to Disney. Major holidays are a hard pass for us. We try to plan our trips around some of the slower times or at least not during the peak times. In the parks, it’s a crap shoot, you could show up on a Wednesday and the parks could practically be a ghost town and the next day, you find yourself smack dab in the middle of an 11 on the crowd scale, just trying to breath and keep all of your toes.
2. Lack of Relaxation
Disney World is not the most relaxing place to get your vacation on. There certainly are ways to relax and places to stop and take a breather and in fact we have an entire blog post called Disney and Chill, where we point out ways to take a step back on your Disney vacation but it is not relaxing. Disney can be stressful and it’s a lot so it for sure isn’t going to be your Hawaiian beach vacation ultimate relaxation which is something you can do on a cruise.
Disney Cruise Line Pros:
1. Character Accessibility
The Disney Cruise Line is the best place for character meet and greets. They are everywhere. Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Captain Hook, Stitch and more. Lines on the Disney Cruise go for fifteen minutes and the lines move. When we are in the parks, the character lines can stretch anywhere from thirty minutes to over an hour.
The lines for characters in the parks do not move quickly. The lines on the Cruise do. We were amazed at how quickly they moved. The characters are in multiple outfits on the cruise and they are unique outfits to the cruise which is awesome.
The characters are fantastic and interactive and a wonderful part of any Disney experience. We love character interactions in Walt Disney World but for us the character experience is exceptional on the Disney Cruise Line and a highlight of those trips.
The crowds at Walt Disney World fluctuate. You can really luck out and hit a low crowd day or string of days or you can show up at rope drop with maximum crowds and wait in hour and a half lines all day. We love Disney and we try to plan our Disney trips around low crowd times but there have been times when we show up at parks for a seven to ten on the crowd scale but there are always magical things to do outside of the of the parks on those days but in all reality, it can damper the magic, in our opinion, at least a little bit.
On the cruise, there can only be a certain number of people on the ship. From what we understand, the three night cruises can be a little busier but there are still only a certain number of cabins and a certain number of passengers on the ship. Cruises are less crowded than the parks so the lines are less and it can make for a more relaxing vacation because there are places you can go, especially in the adult only areas and be essentially by yourself.
Disney has some amazing food options no matter where you are but we went a little crazy on the Disney Cruise. Okay, I went a little crazy. In fact, I may have gone so overboard (see what I did there) that I was sick for over a week when we got home. Because all of your food, with the exception of Palo and Remy, should you choose to eat there, it is really easy to get carried away. Don’t forget the soft serve because I sure didn’t. I ate soft serve on average of five times a day on our cruise and for someone who is lactose intolerant, that could have played a part in my post cruise sickness.
In addition to the soft serve Cabana’s has food and more food and even more food for breakfast and lunch and snacks. Cabana’s is the buffet restaurant on board and there is a wide variety of food options served that you can help yourself too whenever you want.
Also important to remember, room service is free, except for the tip of course so you can enjoy that along with warm milk and cookies and Mickeys bars that are available from room service as well.
The restaurants are great as well. We have had better food at Walt Disney World, again, in our opinion, but the food is really good and, all you can eat. If you want two appetizers and five desserts, (cough cough I did that cough), you do you!
Disney Cruise Line Cons:
1. Subtle Disney Magic
I like my Disney magic to slap me in the face. I want to be bombarded with it, I want it to envelope me in a tight snuggly blanket of awesomeness, you get where we are going with this right? For me, the magic is at Walt Disney World. Is there magic on the cruise? Absolutely! But, it’s subtle. There are subtle touches of Disney magic throughout the cruise, on each level, in each room and area but Disney magic smacks you in the face at Walt Disney World and that is my preference.
When we go to Walt Disney World, it is easier for us to maximize our vacation days (mostly Bryson’s because I have almost double the amount of vacation days available). We can plan a trip around a long weekend or a regular weekend or take a quick sixty hour trip to the parks and only miss a half of a day at work.
With a cruise, it is not the same. We can only book cruises around the times that they are available. Only the three day cruises (which are not my favorite) really travel on weekends, most of the cruises we are interested in sail during the week. As we were trying to decide whether to take a cruise or another trip to Walt Disney World, we had to really maximize our other trips and minimize the amount of vacation days used for those just to fit in a cruise.
Please don’t think that I am complaining about this. We are truly blessed to travel as often as we do and be able to head home to Walt Disney World frequently. It is quite the first world problem to have to shift your other trips around to fit in a cruise. I am simply pointing out that this is a negative for us in the planning process so that we can maximize the number of vacation days that we have.
So, what did we decide? Cruise? Extra trip to Walt Disney World? Click HERE to see our latest trip announcement from February 11,2019! And of course, stay tuned to all of our platforms for more trip announcements for 2019 and beyond!
Did this post help you in your planning or decision process? Which would you prioritize? Cruise or park and why? We would love to hear from you.
That’s it for this post. Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.