For budget-conscious fans, options for taking a Disney vacation are slim. Disney ticket prices can add up quickly, and paying extra for line-skipping privileges like Lightning Lane and Genie+ is practically imperative for a memorable trip.
Then, there’s food, hotels and other inevitable add-ons, from Mickey Mouse ears to princess makeovers. Yet hidden within the realm of Disney’s offerings lies a surprisingly accessible option: the Disney cruise.
While the notion of a Disney vacation may evoke thoughts of pricey indulgence, embarking on a Disney journey at sea ranks among the best examples of how to do Disney on a budget.
NerdWallet analyzed total average trip costs across hundreds of sample itineraries for the following U.S. destinations:
- Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
- Disneyland Resort in California.
- Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii.
- Disney Cruise Line voyages departing from U.S. ports.
NerdWallet also broke down trips into three price tiers — Value, Moderate and Deluxe — to represent travelers’ range of frugality versus luxury (e.g., Value cruise cabins were inside with no windows, while Deluxe cabins faced outside and included a balcony).
For seven-night trips, here were the average prices per person (assuming double occupancy) across each Disney destination:
Assuming double occupancy, weeklong Disney cruises cost less than $2,000 per person, on average. Even a cruise with all the frills (like port excursions, spa treatments and upgraded meals) still costs less than a value trip to Aulani.
What’s included in a Disney cruise
While cruises have a high price tag upfront, most everything is included on board. And for folks who take advantage of it all — meaning the all-you-can-eat buffets, the kids clubs and the shows — the net cost of a Disney cruise often turns out lower than that of any other Disney trip.