Carnival vs. Disney - Comparison

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#1
Florence, KY...just south of Cincinnati
934 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
I've so far only ever sailed with Carnival. I'm open to other lines and occasionally priced them out, but cost, value and familiarity always bring me back to CCL. But now that my DD is almost three, I was thinking that in a few years maybe we'd venture out and try Disney...maybe a short cruise and a few days at the parks. I knew Disney cruises were expensive but I was blown away last night when I did a quick price check to see just how pricey they are!!

We are booked to sail on the Vista in November. We booked in April, 2016. For the three of us in a Lido deck balcony, we paid just over $1800 for a six night Western Caribbean cruise. When I priced Disney, I looked at cruises in fall 2018 (Oct/Nov). For three of us to go on a three night Bahamas cruise on Disney, cabins were starting at $2500. This was the cheapest priced cabins on the ship, so I'm assuming interior cabins (was looking at it on my phone so hard to read it quickly). It showed 7 night cruises starting at almost $5k. I know part of what you're paying for is the "Disney experience". But for those who have sailed both, can you elaborate on what all you get on Disney for that cost? I'd like to do it sometime, but I'm finding it hard to rationalize that steep of an cost jump when we're completely satisfied with Carnival.
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Carnival Triumph 04/04
Carnival Fantasy 09/06
Carnival Glory 04/07
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Carnival Freedom 02/09
Carnival Valor 10/09
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Carnival Victory 10/13
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#2
Georgia
8,905 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
I can't talk to you about Carnival but I can talk to you about Royal Caribbean and if you can compare Carnival to Royal Caribbean then you can go from there.

Besides the Disney aspect, Disney Cruise Line provides a significantly higher quality product as compared to Royal Caribbean. It's simply a step up. There is a level of attention to detail on Disney that you don't get on Royal Caribbean. I don't feel that there was a very big difference in terms of State room service but I do feel that there was a very significant difference with regard to the dining room staff and guest relations.

Then on top of that you get all the Disney stuff.

I will say that personally we waited until the little ones were 7 or 8 before we splurged on Disney (in our case specifically the theme parks). There's nothing wrong with bringing the kids earlier but if you're only going to bring them once I I would aim for That Sweet Spot.

This message may have been entered via voice recognition. Please excuse any typos.
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“Those who do not know satisfaction, even when living in a heavenly palace, are still not satisfied. Those who do not know satisfaction, even if rich, are poor. People who know satisfaction, even if poor, are rich.” ― Gautama Buddha
#3
Orlando
24 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
DCL you get the rotation dining which you dine at different restaurants with your same waitstaff, meet the Disney characters, have wonderful theater shows, free sodas, free movies in their theater with a movie shown before it gets into theaters, and a pirate party with fireworks. I've cruised on DCL once and although it is a lot of fun I would still cruise carnival with the fact that I have just as much fun and I save quite a bit of money
#4
126 Posts
Joined Sep 2014
I think part of the reason Disney can command a higher rate is because they only have four ships. If you can wait a few years some of the Disney cruises on their current ships might come down in price as Disney will be adding three new ships to their fleet starting in 2021 through 2023.

Disney does provide that customer service that they are know for. The shows are "Broadway" caliber. The rotational dining and theming of the dining rooms is unique among cruise lines (each dining venue has a story and/or show that plays out while you eat). There are no casinos (although the thought of a Disney designed casino does intrigue me. Disney villians as dealers anyone ). The kids clubs are incredible.

That being said, besides Disney we have also cruised on Carnival, Royal, and Princess. We love the Disney experience overall but will normally go to Carnival and Royal due to price, especially if we want to do more than one cruise a year. Lately we typically choose Carnival because of the Alchemy Bar. (Yes, that bar can make that big of a difference for us )

One of the biggest differences I noticed is the after dinner crowds. On Disney the ship gets pretty quiet in the bars and clubs after dinner unless it's a fireworks night. This makes sense as it is more of a family atmosphere and many of the little ones are pretty tired by that time. On Carnival and Royal we can find plenty to do late night and there seems to be more people out and about on the ship.

Disney got us hooked on cruises but Carnival and Royal have the rates that will allow us to cruise more often. For a family I think a Disney cruise is worth it once in a awhile. Also if you decide to do a parks/cruise trip, do the cruise second. We found that the cruise is more relaxing and a nice break after the parks.
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Previous cruises:
Disney Dream 1/8/12
Disney Fantasy 1/12/13
Disney Dream 5/2/13
Disney Wonder 12/7/13
Disney Dream 6/1/14
Allure of the Seas 12/7/14
Carnival Victory 8/3/15
Disney Fantasy 12/5/15
Crown Princess (Alaska) 5/13/16
Crown Princess one nighter 5/20/16
Carnival Conquest 8/4/16
Freedom of the Seas 12/10/16
Carnival Pride 7/30/2017

Upcoming cruises:
Carnival Dream 5/13/2018
#5
126 Posts
Joined Sep 2014
Also note: when you go to price Disney they will give you the full price instead of a per person price like other lines. I have seen this confuse some friends of mine that thought that was a per person price.
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Previous cruises:
Disney Dream 1/8/12
Disney Fantasy 1/12/13
Disney Dream 5/2/13
Disney Wonder 12/7/13
Disney Dream 6/1/14
Allure of the Seas 12/7/14
Carnival Victory 8/3/15
Disney Fantasy 12/5/15
Crown Princess (Alaska) 5/13/16
Crown Princess one nighter 5/20/16
Carnival Conquest 8/4/16
Freedom of the Seas 12/10/16
Carnival Pride 7/30/2017

Upcoming cruises:
Carnival Dream 5/13/2018
#7
18,424 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
My DS brings his family of 5 (4, 8 &14 y/o) to DCL, alternating with CCL, He swears that he forgets about the prices when he sees his kids enjoy the amenities they have on DCL. Seems incomparable.
#8
Houston, TX
266 Posts
Joined Sep 2001
Disney is a slightly better overall better experience, but Carnival is a much better bang-4-the-buck deal IMO.
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Carnival Fantasy Aug 2017 (W Carribbean)
Carnival Breeze May 2017 (W Caribbean)
Carnival Dream Jul 2016 (W Caribbean)
Carnival Magic Nov 2015 (Bahamas/Key West)
Carnival Fascination Jun 2015 (Bahamas)
Carnival Dream Jun 2014 (W Caribbean)
Carnival Valor Jun 2013 (S Carribbean)
Carnival Conquest Jun 2012 (W Caribbean)
NCL Pride Of America Jul 2011 (Hawaii)
Carnival Ecstasy Jun 2011 (W Caribbean)
Carnival Elation Aug 2010 (W Caribbean)
Carnival Dream Jul 2010 (E Caribbean)
Carnival Fantasy Aug 2009 (W Caribbean)
Carnival Spirit Jul 2009 (Alaska-Southbound)
Disney Wonder Aug 2008 (Bahamas)
NCL Norwegian Star Jun 2007 (Alaska-Inside Passage)
Carnival Ecstasy Sep 2006 (W Caribbean)
Carnival Destiny Jun 2006 (S Caribbean)
Carnival Triumph Jan 2002 (E Caribbean)
Carnival Celebration Oct 2000 (W Caribbean)
Disney Magic Aug 1999 (Bahamas)
#9
Georgia
8,905 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
Originally posted by Wolfhunt
I think part of the reason Disney can command a higher rate is because they only have four ships. If you can wait a few years some of the Disney cruises on their current ships might come down in price as Disney will be adding three new ships to their fleet starting in 2021 through 2023.
I don't believe that will amount to much of a price difference. Iger is pretty conservative. Especially after missteps by his predecessor in this regard, he's not going to add capacity until he's really sure that the market is there - that he's already losing money by not having the available capacity. My guess would be that the new DCL ships will give the Carnival and Royal Caribbean customer base a haircut (i.e., a little off the top, if you please) rather than force DCL to undersell itself.
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11/11/2017 Carnival Magic (W. Caribbean) [Roll Call]
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“Those who do not know satisfaction, even when living in a heavenly palace, are still not satisfied. Those who do not know satisfaction, even if rich, are poor. People who know satisfaction, even if poor, are rich.” ― Gautama Buddha
#10
Concord, NC USA
1,204 Posts
Joined May 2001
Just our opinion: If you really like the Disney theme and are willing to pay extra for it then go for it. We (and our kids when they were younger) never really cared that much for the Disney characters. We don't see the value in the extra cost, but that does not mean someone else does. We were cruising Royal in those days and our family always voted to go back rather than spring for a DCL cruise since it would mean less cruises. Lots of people like DCL but we prefer the value of Royal, and now Carnival since we have tried them.
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Happy Cruisers since 1994.
Completed Cruise Count: Royal Caribbean 22, Big Red Boat 1, Carnival 2
Bad Cruises: 0 (Not counting RCCL Liberty of the Seas cancellation)
Great Cruises: 25
Future Cruises Booked: 2 : 2 Carnival

From the Mrs. : "My cruise isn't over, I'm just on a really long shore excursion."
#11
Florence, KY...just south of Cincinnati
934 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
Originally posted by MissMarmalade
DCL you get the rotation dining which you dine at different restaurants with your same waitstaff, meet the Disney characters, have wonderful theater shows, free sodas, free movies in their theater with a movie shown before it gets into theaters, and a pirate party with fireworks. I've cruised on DCL once and although it is a lot of fun I would still cruise carnival with the fact that I have just as much fun and I save quite a bit of money
Thanks for the response! I wasn't aware of the rotation dining or the movies!
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Carnival Sensation 03/98
Carnival Ecstasy 05/99
Carnival Fascination 02/02
Carnival Victory 04/03
Carnival Fascination 12/03
Carnival Triumph 04/04
Carnival Fantasy 09/06
Carnival Glory 04/07
Carnival Imagination 09/08
Carnival Freedom 02/09
Carnival Valor 10/09
Carnival Splendor 10/10
Carnival Glory 04/11
Carnival Freedom 04/12
Carnival Victory 10/13
Carnival Breeze 10/15
Carnival Vista 11/17
#12
Florence, KY...just south of Cincinnati
934 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
Originally posted by Wolfhunt
I think part of the reason Disney can command a higher rate is because they only have four ships. If you can wait a few years some of the Disney cruises on their current ships might come down in price as Disney will be adding three new ships to their fleet starting in 2021 through 2023.

Disney does provide that customer service that they are know for. The shows are "Broadway" caliber. The rotational dining and theming of the dining rooms is unique among cruise lines (each dining venue has a story and/or show that plays out while you eat). There are no casinos (although the thought of a Disney designed casino does intrigue me. Disney villians as dealers anyone ). The kids clubs are incredible.

That being said, besides Disney we have also cruised on Carnival, Royal, and Princess. We love the Disney experience overall but will normally go to Carnival and Royal due to price, especially if we want to do more than one cruise a year. Lately we typically choose Carnival because of the Alchemy Bar. (Yes, that bar can make that big of a difference for us )

One of the biggest differences I noticed is the after dinner crowds. On Disney the ship gets pretty quiet in the bars and clubs after dinner unless it's a fireworks night. This makes sense as it is more of a family atmosphere and many of the little ones are pretty tired by that time. On Carnival and Royal we can find plenty to do late night and there seems to be more people out and about on the ship.

Disney got us hooked on cruises but Carnival and Royal have the rates that will allow us to cruise more often. For a family I think a Disney cruise is worth it once in a awhile. Also if you decide to do a parks/cruise trip, do the cruise second. We found that the cruise is more relaxing and a nice break after the parks.
Definitely sounds like an experience! And I'm sure before too long, my DD will be clamoring to go to Disney (she's blissfully unaware of it for now!). Would be nice to do it at least once!
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Carnival Sensation 03/98
Carnival Ecstasy 05/99
Carnival Fascination 02/02
Carnival Victory 04/03
Carnival Fascination 12/03
Carnival Triumph 04/04
Carnival Fantasy 09/06
Carnival Glory 04/07
Carnival Imagination 09/08
Carnival Freedom 02/09
Carnival Valor 10/09
Carnival Splendor 10/10
Carnival Glory 04/11
Carnival Freedom 04/12
Carnival Victory 10/13
Carnival Breeze 10/15
Carnival Vista 11/17
#13
Florence, KY...just south of Cincinnati
934 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
Originally posted by EBFURR
Just our opinion: If you really like the Disney theme and are willing to pay extra for it then go for it. We (and our kids when they were younger) never really cared that much for the Disney characters. We don't see the value in the extra cost, but that does not mean someone else does. We were cruising Royal in those days and our family always voted to go back rather than spring for a DCL cruise since it would mean less cruises. Lots of people like DCL but we prefer the value of Royal, and now Carnival since we have tried them.
I'm not a huge Disney person myself. But my daughter (almost three years old) has really started getting into the Disney movies, starting with Frozen and now Moana. She's getting more familiar with the other princesses as well. I think for us, it would be a one and done thing. Nice to experience, but no huge need to go back. My sister and her hubby, on the other hand, take a Disney cruise every year...and their kids are all grown and married with their own kids. So definitely to each their own!
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Carnival Sensation 03/98
Carnival Ecstasy 05/99
Carnival Fascination 02/02
Carnival Victory 04/03
Carnival Fascination 12/03
Carnival Triumph 04/04
Carnival Fantasy 09/06
Carnival Glory 04/07
Carnival Imagination 09/08
Carnival Freedom 02/09
Carnival Valor 10/09
Carnival Splendor 10/10
Carnival Glory 04/11
Carnival Freedom 04/12
Carnival Victory 10/13
Carnival Breeze 10/15
Carnival Vista 11/17
#14
Missouri
2,021 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
We did a Disney Cruise once- when my daughter was 4. It was to celebrate my 40th and our 10 year anniversary. It was a fabulous time, but very pricey. We actually did a 7 day cruise on Disney Fantasy. I cannot remember the exact price, but I know that it was under 4k and we actually had a balcony room.

As far as amenities, you of course have character meets- often. We had not been to the parks before with my DD, but at that time, she was a little small for rides and the characters were what drew her interest. We met basically every character and got tons of pictures.

The rotational dining is very interesting, you switch dining rooms, but have the same table and wait staff.

Movie theater is cool too, we saw Cinderella and DH also saw Avengers (3D) which were in theaters at the time. And the shows were very good, much better than any other cruise ship show I have been too.

Pirate night, parades and fireworks were great.

The adult only areas were wonderful, it was like a ship within a ship.

Overall, it was just very good service, characters and a lot of family fun. I don't know that I would have liked it without my little one, or if she were not so into Disney. If you are thinking of doing it, don't wait too long. My DD practically came out of the womb loving Disney. She could say "Minnie Mouse" when she was barely a year old. And she just loved princesses. A few weeks ago Mickey Mouse club house was no longer her favorite show. And she told me the other day that she "did not like princesses that much." She is only 6 1/2. I did not think she would outgrow it so quickly.
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Carnival Imagination- 12/11/2004 (Mother/Daughter cruise)
Carnival Valor- 2/22/2009 (DH's first cruise)
Carnival Conquest 4/29/2012 (My baby girl's first cruise)
Carnival Conquest 4/21/2013 (our first true inside room)
Celebrity Constellation 3/31/14 (Just DH and I)
Carnival Elation 10/13/14 (Short Family Cruise)
Disney Fantasy- 5/9/15 (First cruise with "the Mouse")
Liberty of the Seas- 5-14-17 (Birthday Cruise)
#15
1,238 Posts
Joined Nov 2013
The first cruise we took was a 4 day on Carnival and we loved it so much that a few months later we started looking at other options for cruising so of course we went to Disney - My girls love Disney and since we had extra $$ I decided to splurge on it

Now don't get me wrong I will never ever regret the experience but I would likely never do it again - Since it was our first longer cruise we tried anything and everything as we were not sure what we liked yet about cruising. Now that we been on a number of cruises Disney would not fit our ideal cruise

Now about Disney - When you see the videos of like kids walking down the stairs with Snow white or walking along with tinker bell - this really does happen - I can't tell you how many times we ran into random characters outside of the scheduled meet and greets - the most memorable time was when I was on deck 5 looking over the railing at a show they were doing on deck 3 going up the stairs and 2 employees were next to me watching as well - Out of the corner of my eye I see them step backwards so I looked over to see where they were going and all of a sudden I was face to face with Captain Hook - It scared the dickens out of me and then made me bust a gut laughing

There are tons of activities for little kids just make sure you find out which ones require tickets and get those from the excursion desk early on to guarantee your spot

I love that you change dining venues and that your wait staff go with you

I don't like the fact that they give you extra envelopes to specifically tip people whom already get tips from my gratuities and if it was not bad enough that they gave them to me they mentioned them several times - First real cruise where we took care of it so I did give them a little extra but I don't like that they expect it

One main reason I would not cruise Disney now is because they don't have a casino which I love going to in the evenings to play a little roulette

The themed parties are awesome just check in the disney group ahead of time so you know what parties will be on your sailing so you could prepare - if i had not done that I would not have brought pirate stuff for my youngest daughter

Being able to see movies that are new is totally cool - hint for this though bring your own boxed candy from home for the movies

My fave part of the trip I think has to be the fish exchange - If your not sure what that is look it up - join a group and be part of it this is where you bring gifts for other people that are part of your group and deliver it to their cabin and put it in their holder its kinda like a shoe rack but like mine had 4 pockets and I had it custom made with individual characters and our names - but it was cool always coming back to gifts in our packages and it was nice to deliver the gifts - I also brought extra candy with me so if I saw a fish rack that was not part of my group i would drop some candy in it

Also bring blank pillow cases (again we had ours custom made for the girls) and drop them off at guest services and you will have them autographed

For me it was totally worth doing once and it is likely that when I have grand children I may reconsider doing it again to take them but for now I am a Carnival cruiser and will stick to what I know and love
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Past Cruises
Carnival Liberty - Nassau - 3 Nights - 08/31/17
MSC Divina - W Carribean - 7 Nights - 12/23/16
Carnival Valor - Nassau & Freeport - 3 Nights - 12/11/16
Carnival Victory - Nassau - 3 Nights - 09/01/16
Bahamas Celebration - Freeport - 2 Nights - 3/31/16
Norwegian Epic - Barcelona - 9 Nights - 12/19/15
Carnival Sensation - Nassau - 3 Nights - 09/03/15
Carnival Sensation - Nassau -3 Nights - 04/30/15
Disney Fantasy - East Caribbean - 7 Nights - 12/19/14
Carnival Paradise - Cozumel - 3 Nights - 12/19/13