Disney Cruise Line just released summer 2020 itineraries this week. As usual, there is a lot of buzz in social media groups about the high price of DCL. I wrote about the drama that ensues after a new release back when early 2019 itineraries came out.
At the end of every Disney Cruise, DCL asks passengers to fill out a paper guest comment card. One of the questions is, “How would you rate your DCL vacation based on price paid for quality and value received?” I’ve always filled in the “excellent” bubble for this question because my family has cruised during the off-season when prices were lower. And even though the price was still higher than other cruise lines, I genuinely believed that we got a good value based on the high quality of the service and product.
But, now that I look at potential cruises during peak times with a high-schooler, I’m not sure I’ll be able to say that Disney Cruise and value belong in the same sentence.
Disney Cruise Line 2020 Sample Prices
My family doesn’t have our 2020 travel plans set in stone yet, but we are considering a trip to Disney World that summer. Three-fifths of my family really wants to check out the new Star Wars land, and I might attend a convention there in July 2020. So naturally, I thought I’d see if we could hook a 3- or 4-night Disney cruise onto our potential Disney World trip.
The cheapest Disney cruise we can go on near the convention date costs $5752 for a 3-night cruise for all five of us in a porthole window cabin. After we add in tips, that’s almost $2000 a night. Ouch!
Dreaming about a 7-night cruise in peak season is worse. A 7-night cruise to the Caribbean in July would cost us around $12,000 including tips. That doesn’t include the cost of excursions. And Alaska in July? Check out the price for five people below and try not to have a heart attack:
When we paid $5000-$7000 for our previous 7-night Caribbean cruises, I still thought we got a lot of value for what we received. But to pay twice at much during peak season for the same product? It’s hard for me to see that the same value would be there.
And now that my kids are getting older, those $12k-$18k price tags start to remind me the price of a used car or a year of college tuition. Unless we’re in a position to comfortably cover three kids for college, paying that much for a cruise just seems irresponsible.
Summer Price Comparison for DCL vs. Disney World
Before DCL prices were too outlandishly high, I used to read on message boards that the price of DCL is comparable to a vacation at Disney World in a deluxe resort with the dining plan. But is that still true with the high summer prices?
To compare a Disney World vacation, I looked at the same week for July 2019 since resort prices are not yet available for 2020. I picked the least expensive Disney deluxe resort, which happens to be Disney’s Beach Club. When I add the deluxe dining plan (three meals a day plus snack) and 7-day park tickets (without park hoppers or water park options), the grand total is about $9500. That’s $2500 less than a 7-night Disney cruise to the Caribbean (which will cost more once adding in excursions).
Value is Personal
For some people, even the higher summer prices on DCL still provide worthwhile value. If DCL is still your favorite vacation ever, and it’s the only place that is your true happy place, then it might be worth almost any cost. And, if school schedules allow, some families can find lower prices at the end of May and the end of August.
But for others, when the cost starts to creep up to the same cost as a year of college, the value just isn’t there anymore. That’s when they start to look for alternatives, whether it’s an all-inclusive resort, another cruise line or a Disney parks vacation.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, my family is giving Royal Caribbean a try. I’m crossing my fingers that we enjoy it a great deal, even if we don’t love it quite as much as Disney Cruise Line. But we won’t know for sure until we try it. And if we don’t, we may be the crazy ones booking a 3-night Disney cruise over the summer just to get our DCL fix.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.