Disney or RCL with young kids

atoz786

Earning My Ears
Joined
May 18, 2021
Hello All - I realize I am posting a question on the Disney board but hoping those that have cruised both lines can provide some advice. We have a Disney cruise booked for next summer and want to book another for Dec 2022 but are not sure if we should venture to RCL or stick with Disney. Next winter we will have a 3 year old and an 18 mo old. My wife won’t leave the kids in the kids club so no point comparing those options. Given that age group what would be the recommendation should we stick with Disney (when they open Fall 2022 bookings) or go to RCL (Symphony of the seas). If it helps we are looking at 7 day itinerary probably Fantasy and/or the ship that leaves from Galveston if we decide not to fly and drive instead.
 

Robbydj13

Mouseketeer
Joined
Apr 23, 2021
Hello All - I realize I am posting a question on the Disney board but hoping those that have cruised both lines can provide some advice. We have a Disney cruise booked for next summer and want to book another for Dec 2022 but are not sure if we should venture to RCL or stick with Disney. Next winter we will have a 3 year old and an 18 mo old. My wife won’t leave the kids in the kids club so no point comparing those options. Given that age group what would be the recommendation should we stick with Disney (when they open Fall 2022 bookings) or go to RCL (Symphony of the seas). If it helps we are looking at 7 day itinerary probably Fantasy and/or the ship that leaves from Galveston if we decide not to fly and drive instead.
I have been on both the Fantasy and the Symphony and they are both amazing, but very different ships. My first question Would be, what is it you want to do and have most from a cruise? Have you cruised before? If so, what were your likes and dislikes. Typically with young kids, I would always say Disney, but I am very much a Royal Caribbean loyalist…
 

atoz786

Earning My Ears
Joined
May 18, 2021
I have been on both the Fantasy and the Symphony and they are both amazing, but very different ships. My first question Would be, what is it you want to do and have most from a cruise? Have you cruised before? If so, what were your likes and dislikes. Typically with young kids, I would always say Disney, but I am very much a Royal Caribbean loyalist…
Hi, thanks for the response. We have definitely cruised before we are very avid cruisers with no loyalty to any line. Before kids we picked the destination vs the cruise line (have done Alaska, Mediterranean, all over the carribean, Bermuda etc).

For this cruise given it would be with kids we are really only looking to have a relaxing time and be able to show them a good time as well. So a cruise line that would make our lives easier so we can get to enjoy as well. We know this cruise will be a lot different and we won’t be able to do everything we otherwise would (ie shows etc).
 

Cheburashka

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 25, 2020
Hello All - I realize I am posting a question on the Disney board but hoping those that have cruised both lines can provide some advice. We have a Disney cruise booked for next summer and want to book another for Dec 2022 but are not sure if we should venture to RCL or stick with Disney. Next winter we will have a 3 year old and an 18 mo old. My wife won’t leave the kids in the kids club so no point comparing those options. Given that age group what would be the recommendation should we stick with Disney (when they open Fall 2022 bookings) or go to RCL (Symphony of the seas). If it helps we are looking at 7 day itinerary probably Fantasy and/or the ship that leaves from Galveston if we decide not to fly and drive instead.
Is your 3 year-old into the Disney characters?
 

atoz786

Earning My Ears
Joined
May 18, 2021
Is your 3 year-old into the Disney characters?
she will be 3 next fall she’s 20 months right now and only into baby shark, but we are introducing her to some of the Disney characters like Minnie and some of the movies like Moana.
 

Robbydj13

Mouseketeer
Joined
Apr 23, 2021
Hi, thanks for the response. We have definitely cruised before we are very avid cruisers with no loyalty to any line. Before kids we picked the destination vs the cruise line (have done Alaska, Mediterranean, all over the carribean, Bermuda etc).

For this cruise given it would be with kids we are really only looking to have a relaxing time and be able to show them a good time as well. So a cruise line that would make our lives easier so we can get to enjoy as well. We know this cruise will be a lot different and we won’t be able to do everything we otherwise would (ie shows etc).
If the kids enjoy Disney characters, then Disney it is, but RC also has characters as well and quite a few more pools which spread things out a bit. Disney only has 2 pools which tend to be overrun. In addition to that, I would look at the itinerary and see which stops might interest you and them. Castaway Cay is lovely, but Perfect Day is really something else.
I tend to favor RC on 7 day itineraries as I think the boat has more offerings, but if you were looking at 4 day cruises then I would give the nod to Disney. I don’t think you could go wrong, but I would base it off what you think your kids would enjoy most When it comes to things they would do.
 

Cheburashka

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 25, 2020
she will be 3 next fall she’s 20 months right now and only into baby shark, but we are introducing her to some of the Disney characters like Minnie and some of the movies like Moana.
It sounds like they'll be a bit young for the character thing, then. Different children develop at different rates, but my son was scared of in-person characters, including Santa, when he was three. For this cruise you might want to consider primarily what will be most pleasing to you parents, as I'm sure the preschooler and baby will not have a strong preference either way- they're so young. In 3 more years, it seems they might be the perfect ages for a Disney cruise. Not saying Disney isn't a good choice now, but if you're leaning towards Royal yourselves, I don't see why not as they won't be very interested in Disney theming or characters at such a young age, and won't be using the club or nursery.
 
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  • atoz786

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 18, 2021
    Does one cruise line make your life easier vs the other? For example I understand Disney provides bottle warmers, diaper pail, crib etc does RCL also offer that? Also is that something we can rely upon from Disney given that they probably have limited amounts and should bring our own or have most folks not had an issue with requesting those items ?
     

    MomOTwins

    The Mommy Fairy
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2018
    Haven't sailed RCL, but I can say a couple reasons I chose Disney with small kiddos:
    --Entertainment is very kid friendly. I can take a toddler to a theater show.
    --They do such an amazing job keeping the kids happy at dinner time so mom and dad can enjoy the meal.
    --Staterooms are quite large and a good set up for families--split bathroom, beds with rails for the toddlers.
    --I know the Disney ships are super safety focused. All the railings are a very safe height for kids, which I was nervous about before cruising, all the CMs are very vigilant and have great protocols for "lost parents" as they call them. I know it is obviously really atypical, but I remember after the tragedy on RCL when the toddler being held by her grandfather slipped out of his arms and fell through an open window on the pool deck, I was on a DCL ship shortly thereafter and was laser focused on the pool deck and happy to see there were bars on all the window vents where the breeze comes through--no chance of anyone falling out.
     

    atoz786

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 18, 2021
    Haven't sailed RCL, but I can say a couple reasons I chose Disney with small kiddos:
    --Entertainment is very kid friendly. I can take a toddler to a theater show.
    --They do such an amazing job keeping the kids happy at dinner time so mom and dad can enjoy the meal.
    --Staterooms are quite large and a good set up for families--split bathroom, beds with rails for the toddlers.
    --I know the Disney ships are super safety focused. All the railings are a very safe height for kids, which I was nervous about before cruising, all the CMs are very vigilant and have great protocols for "lost parents" as they call them. I know it is obviously really atypical, but I remember after the tragedy on RCL when the toddler being held by her grandfather slipped out of his arms and fell through an open window on the pool deck, I was on a DCL ship shortly thereafter and was laser focused on the pool deck and happy to see there were bars on all the window vents where the breeze comes through--no chance of anyone falling out.
    Thanks those points do help lean one way. What is CM?
     

    MomOTwins

    The Mommy Fairy
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2018
    Thanks those points do help lean one way. What is CM?
    Sorry, we use a lot of acronyms on disboards. Disney calls it employees “cast members”—I just mean the ship’s staff. They are all so great with kids.
     
  • Robbydj13

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 23, 2021
    Haven't sailed RCL, but I can say a couple reasons I chose Disney with small kiddos:
    --Entertainment is very kid friendly. I can take a toddler to a theater show.
    --They do such an amazing job keeping the kids happy at dinner time so mom and dad can enjoy the meal.
    --Staterooms are quite large and a good set up for families--split bathroom, beds with rails for the toddlers.
    --I know the Disney ships are super safety focused. All the railings are a very safe height for kids, which I was nervous about before cruising, all the CMs are very vigilant and have great protocols for "lost parents" as they call them. I know it is obviously really atypical, but I remember after the tragedy on RCL when the toddler being held by her grandfather slipped out of his arms and fell through an open window on the pool deck, I was on a DCL ship shortly thereafter and was laser focused on the pool deck and happy to see there were bars on all the window vents where the breeze comes through--no chance of anyone falling out.
    It is impossible to fall out of a window or over a balcony unless you are doing something incredibly stupid. This should not even be a consideration on any line as it takes great effort to fall over a balcony or it takes an irresponsible and stupid parent to hang their kid out of a window. Aside from that, there’s a reason you don’t hear about it.
    However the rooms and bathrooms on DCL are better, as are the cast members. I still feel RCL has more options available on board, especially on Symphony
     

    karmacats

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 3, 2013
    I've cruised both lines (gold on disney, diamond plus on royal) with kids in our parties (we don't have kids, but often travel in large family and friend groups), and unless your daughter gets super into the Disney characters, if you're not going to use the kids clubs I would lean towards symphony.

    For the price of a regular stateroom on disney you can probably get a junior suite on symphony, which would give you a larger bathroom with tub, walk in closet, and overall bigger room.

    We've found it easy to eat flexibly on royal ships - there are lots of small grab and go counters, or you can schedule early my time dining.

    We were on harmony with a couple of four year olds and they loved the carousel and the climbing structure on the boardwalk. There were lots of free casual activities like that for them to enjoy.

    As to safety, royal ships have high latches on their balcony doors, so a kid would not be able to open them. I think the latches are at about 5 feet off the ground. All open areas on deck also have solid glass that's maybe 4 feet high. Unless you dangle your kid over the edge, they are going to be fine.

    I think the disney kids clubs for very little ones seem to be better, but if that's not a consideration, i think symphony will give you more options just by virtue of being bigger.
     

    Robbydj13

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 23, 2021
    I've cruised both lines (gold on disney, diamond plus on royal) with kids in our parties (we don't have kids, but often travel in large family and friend groups), and unless your daughter gets super into the Disney characters, if you're not going to use the kids clubs I would lean towards symphony.

    For the price of a regular stateroom on disney you can probably get a junior suite on symphony, which would give you a larger bathroom with tub, walk in closet, and overall bigger room.

    We've found it easy to eat flexibly on royal ships - there are lots of small grab and go counters, or you can schedule early my time dining.

    We were on harmony with a couple of four year olds and they loved the carousel and the climbing structure on the boardwalk. There were lots of free casual activities like that for them to enjoy.

    As to safety, royal ships have high latches on their balcony doors, so a kid would not be able to open them. I think the latches are at about 5 feet off the ground. All open areas on deck also have solid glass that's maybe 4 feet high. Unless you dangle your kid over the edge, they are going to be fine.

    I think the disney kids clubs for very little ones seem to be better, but if that's not a consideration, i think symphony will give you more options just by virtue of being bigger.
    Agree. The pricing on Royal is so much less which would allow you to upgrade the room.
    what itineraries are you looking at for your cruise as well?
     

    atoz786

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 18, 2021
    I've cruised both lines (gold on disney, diamond plus on royal) with kids in our parties (we don't have kids, but often travel in large family and friend groups), and unless your daughter gets super into the Disney characters, if you're not going to use the kids clubs I would lean towards symphony.

    For the price of a regular stateroom on disney you can probably get a junior suite on symphony, which would give you a larger bathroom with tub, walk in closet, and overall bigger room.

    We've found it easy to eat flexibly on royal ships - there are lots of small grab and go counters, or you can schedule early my time dining.

    We were on harmony with a couple of four year olds and they loved the carousel and the climbing structure on the boardwalk. There were lots of free casual activities like that for them to enjoy.

    As to safety, royal ships have high latches on their balcony doors, so a kid would not be able to open them. I think the latches are at about 5 feet off the ground. All open areas on deck also have solid glass that's maybe 4 feet high. Unless you dangle your kid over the edge, they are going to be fine.

    I think the disney kids clubs for very little ones seem to be better, but if that's not a consideration, i think symphony will give you more options just by virtue of being bigger.
    Agree. The pricing on Royal is so much less which would allow you to upgrade the room.
    what itineraries are you looking at for your cruise as well?
    @karmacats - thanks for the comparison, as of this age she isn’t but who knows once shes older and a 3 year old I imagine that might change.

    @Robbydj13 - looking at the Dec 3, 2022 sailing to eastern Caribbean which is St Maarten, St Thomas and Cococay.

    I am looking at their Cat 1A balcony which is called Ultra Spacious Ocean View with Large Balcony.

    room size is 271 sq ft balcony 82sqft. All for 4691 and a refundable deposit.
     

    Robbydj13

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 23, 2021
    @karmacats - thanks for the comparison, as of this age she isn’t but who knows once shes older and a 3 year old I imagine that might change.

    @Robbydj13 - looking at the Dec 3, 2022 sailing to eastern Caribbean which is St Maarten, St Thomas and Cococay.

    I am looking at their Cat 1A balcony which is called Ultra Spacious Ocean View with Large Balcony.

    room size is 271 sq ft balcony 82sqft. All for 4691 and a refundable deposit.
    Not a bad itinerary. Do you plan to do excursions?
    What was the DCL itinerary?

    i still think it comes down to the ship more than the islands. Compare them, see what works for you. They’re both great.
     

    atoz786

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 18, 2021
    Not a bad itinerary. Do you plan to do excursions?
    What was the DCL itinerary?

    i still think it comes down to the ship more than the islands. Compare them, see what works for you. They’re both great.
    Yes plan to do some low key excursions that are kid friendly. Disney has yet to release Fall 2022 itinerary not sure when that will be coming.
     

    Robbydj13

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 23, 2021
    Yes plan to do some low key excursions that are kid friendly. Disney has yet to release Fall 2022 itinerary not sure when that will be coming.
    Ah yes, I forgot they haven’t released yet. Are you pretty set on that RCL itinerary or date.
    recently we have booked 2 of their western Caribbean itineraries as the included CocoCay and Labadee as stops, along with Nassau andI believe one other. 2 private islands always makes things better lol.
    I would honestly make a list of everything you like about each ship and compare them to see what is important to you. You might also discover things on each that you didn’t know about.
     

    _auroraborealis_

    I like marshmallows. And adult beverages.
    Joined
    Oct 18, 2015
    Honestly, if you aren't planning on kids clubs, RCCL is likely your better bet. Lower pricing gets you a junior suite or more, with flexible dining. People love or hate the set rotational dining on DCL, but with littles you don't intend to put in clubs, it leaves you with limited options part of the day if your kids don't play with the set dining time. (and kids are jerks about eating schedules.) RCCL has the ongoing buffet-type object I am assuming stays in some form, as well as a couple other options on most ships, with flexibility for dining room access. DCL you have burgers on the pool deck, or limited room service menu.
     

    rere101399

    DISmom
    Joined
    Jul 30, 2014
    There are some great points made for both lines here. I just wanted to add a couple of thoughts. My kids changed enormously from 20 months to 3 years old. I know it’s hard to plan now for who she will be at the time of sailing, but I would guess your daughter could very possibly be much more into characters, as well as the deck parties, lobby dance parties with characters, themed splash area and the overall kid friendly atmosphere at that time. If you were going now at this age, I’d say choose for the parents, but at 3 I’d probably lean DCL personally.

    She might be delighted by the little things, like stopping by Bibbiddi Boppity Boutique each day for some pixie dust (glitter)waved into her hair with a magic wand by a fairy godmother, a fun free activity. Or even a princess makeover there one day.
    I wouldn’t be positive that you won’t leave her at the kids clubs by then, it’s possible that you could change your mind. And at that age you might not choose to leave her for very long but most of their activities are 15-30 minutes long, so you might choose one activity a day that sounds engaging for her and try it out. You wouldn’t be the first parents to linger in the hallway watching through the opening to make sure your kiddo is happy. At the very least, if you don’t drop her off at all there’s still a ton of Open House times where you can go into the kids club spaces as a family and enjoy the space together with your daughter.

    On a 7 night Fantasy sailing you’ll be able to do a character breakfast one morning which typically has several Disney Jr characters and there’s a good chance she might be interested in them by then. You’ll also have likely have a fair bit of family friendly day time activities on a 7 night as well as engaging evening activities for all ages. Your 3 year old would probably get a kick out of Taylor Mason for example, a family comedian that we’ve seen before on DCL 7 nights. Even if she doesn’t understand everything, he uses funny voices and puppets and usually has every kid in the audience rolling with laughter, even 3 year olds.
     





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