There’s something so magical that draws most people into travel. For a short time, we are transported out of the daily routine and into a strange, unfamiliar place. It’s like your heart is suddenly more opened to the world. There’s bravery that takes hold on such an adventure that leads us to do things we normally would hesitate at. It’s easier to get lost in the moment and let go.
But, what if you could find that same feeling before even arriving at your destination? For some, a leisurely Disney cruise does exactly that. The journey itself becomes the adventure you’re seeking.
With more options than ever in 2021 thanks to Disney Cruise Line’s soon to be expanded fleet, it’s easy to customize your journey exactly to your liking.
What’s not so easy is deciding between all the ships, destinations and routes. So, we’ve put together this guide to the best Disney cruises in 2021.
The guide is organized by ship with notable features, destinations, and any particularly attractive routes included below. Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
The oldest ship in the fleet is the Disney Magic, a nostalgic ship painted in classic black, red and white. As with all Disney Cruise Line ships, it has an old-school ocean liner look and features Disney fanfare like the Mickey logo on the pseudo smokestacks, and gold trim to subtly complete the Disney color scheme.
It has 11 decks and a capacity for 2,700 passengers and crew. There are just under 900 staterooms and areas for your whole family from kids to adults.
The Magic is based in the Bahamas but has routes connecting Miami, Key West, Cozumel, and George Town. There is a budget-friendly 3-day cruise that starts in Miami. The first stop is at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. This secluded getaway can be your own private escape too.
Castaway Cay is home to stunning lagoons, clean beaches, and an expanse of blue ocean and open skies all around. If staying active is more your speed, there are plenty of things to do too. An organized 5K marathon, sailing, paddling, kayaking and snorkeling are just a taste of the adventures in store! There are plenty of kids areas to keep your little ones occupied too.
This route then visits Nassau in the Bahamas before returning home. The sub $600 price point and short time span make this an ideal Disney cruise for two, or someone who has never tried a Disney cruise before.
Disney Magic is also the only cruise liner that hosts the Marvel Day at Sea. This will be advertised when you book if it’s included on the route and is a big treat for little Marvel fans. The ship is redressed in Marvel regalia and events, menus and displays all add some comic book flavor.
Your kids will get to briefly live alongside these heroes and interact in some fun event sessions with the characters too. I don’t want to spoil everything, but there’s also one big ship-spanning event that involves the heroes saving the ship from super villains that’s sure to delight.
That brings us to the second oldest ship in the Disney Cruise Line, the Wonder. This ship was built just one year after the Magic. So it’s no surprise that the look, feel and structure of the ship are quite similar to the Magic: 11 decks, 2,700 passengers done in a classic cruise liner style.
The population of this ship is multi-generational but tends to be heavy on children which are worth considering if you’re looking for a romantic couple’s vibe.
The Wonder is the only Disney Cruise ship that features “Frozen, a Musical Spectacular,” a broadway-style show at sea. The show itself basically mimics the movie but shortened to about an hour. It gets rave reviews and features solid performances, vibrant costumes, and some nice special effects to feel new again.
Keep in mind that Disney encourages all events to be booked in advance since there is a chance they can fill up. That includes this show, meeting characters, and various special events throughout the ship. It pays to do a bit of research now to avoid missing out and dealing with a little one’s impending temper tantrum.
The Wonder departs from San Diego, Galveston, and New Orleans. As with the Magic, this boat has plenty of routes available. Potential destinations here are Ensenada Mexico, Galveston, Cozumel, Cabo San Lucas, Catalina Island, Vancouver, Alaska, and the Panama Canal.
There is one notable route that earned the Wonder our pick for the best Disney Cruise of 2021.
You might be shocked at the thought of passing on sun-soaked beaches and margaritas poolside for a trip to the cold north, but hear us out! If you’re a nature lover looking for a true sense of adventure and, well, wonder, this is it.
You may imagine that the entire journey will be too frigid to enjoy. But, Alaskan temperatures in summer hover around a very comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Do bring clothes you can layer up to save packing space and be prepared for colder temperatures near glaciers.
The route begins in Vancouver and steadily cruises along the western coast of North America. The second day is spent at sea, a perfect chance to explore the ship, take in a show or enjoy the open water.
The third day sees the ship sailing along the Dawes glacier. Bring along some binoculars and prepare to see some of the most picturesque, stunning natural scenery you can imagine. There are plenty of chances to spot wildlife along the coast too. This day is truly a photographer’s dream.
On day four you’ll be ashore in Skagway, Alaska. This is a town with a deep history rooted in the Klondike gold rush of the 1800s. Again, you’ll find beautiful scenery, historic parks, museums, and some shopping opportunities before setting sail again.
Day 5 arrives at Juneau for more time ashore in Alaska’s state capital. Taking the tram just off of the boat will take you to the top of Mt. Roberts for a panoramic view of the mountain nestled city below. From here, you can continue hiking to take in some mesmerizing and expansive vistas.
Day 6 lands you in Ketchikan, a quaint city steeped in tradition. Spend the day exploring native Alaskan culture including a salmon hatchery, state parks filled with totemic relics of the past and more.
Day 7 is a final day spent in the gently rolling sea towards home. It’s a chance for your mind to be still again, and reflect upon all you’ve seen and done. This meditative trip home is the perfect bookend for this adventurous, exciting cruise.
The Disney Dream had its maiden voyage back in 2011. Along with the Fantasy, Dream is truly a behemoth in the Disney cruise fleet. It boasts 14 decks and a capacity of 4,000 passengers.
The ship is based out of Port Canaveral and makes trips to Nassau in the Bahamas and back again.
The Dream was designed much later than the Magic or Wonder. After Disney had established itself as a big name in cruise travel, they naturally went bigger and better than previous incarnations of these ships. You’ll find that the staterooms and facilities are all-around more modern and swanky. The suites are particularly luxurious with a verandah for ocean viewing in style.
Like the other ships, Dream’s event schedule is chocked full of fun activities aimed mostly to kids or teens. There are chance Disney character meetings, theatre shows and a Pirates of the Caribbean themed party night. The only problem is that these cruises are only 3-4 days long. It’s not much time to take in all the ship has to offer when you consider the time spent ashore.
The Dream is among the best the Disney cruise line has to offer, but that comes at a premium price too, with cruises starting at around $1700.
The Disney Fantasy is essentially the Dream’s twin sister. It features the same incredible amenities, modern feel and signature Disney service. The atrium pictured above is a stunning design reminiscent of Beauty and The Beast.
It sails from Port Canaveral and its routes are longer and farther reaching than the Dream. Connected ports include Cozumel, George Town, Falmouth, Tortola, St. Thomas, Philipsburg, San Juan Puerto Rico, and Castaway Cay.
The Fantasy has a wide variety of routes with trip lengths starting as short as 3 nights to as long as 9.
If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll want to look elsewhere. These are among the most expensive of the Disney cruises.
The Fantasy is the sole home of Star Wars Day at Sea. These special events are comparable to the Marvel Day at Sea of the Magic. That means the ship will host wandering characters, Star Wars movie screenings and themed events for everyone to enjoy.
The chances for character interactions are plentiful thanks to the deep well of lore to pull from and stormtroopers everywhere. There is a sort of story arc that kicks off the festivities with Darth Vader “taking over” the ship. There are a ton of events that kids would love including a Jedi training session, a costume contest, and a Star Wars-themed stage show.
Disney Cruise 2021 Fact Sheet
Use this handy sheet to help finalize your next vacation cruise plans! These figures are based on the prices listed on Disney’s website at the most economical cabin rate. Of course, with a bit of searching, you can find deals cutting these costs significantly.
We know, the options available here are absolutely staggering! A good method to filter down your choices might be to first consider your budget. Next, check each ships’ destinations to see if any stand out. Finally, choose a suitable length for your trip. Considering these 3 factors should hone your choices down to just what you’re looking for.
The good news about countless options is that you should have no difficulty securing a spot aboard that suits your needs perfectly. Don’t forget to take a breath, slow down and enjoy the journey. After all, that’s what a Disney cruise is all about!