Disney is not an option for budget-conscious people. Disney tickets can be expensive, so paying for extras such as Lightning Lane or Genie+ to skip lines is a must for an unforgettable trip. There are also food and hotel options, as well as other add-ons like princess makeovers or Mickey Mouse ear adornments. Disney offers […]

Disney is not an option for budget-conscious people. Disney tickets can be expensive, so paying for extras such as Lightning Lane or Genie+ to skip lines is a must for an unforgettable trip.

There are also food and hotel options, as well as other add-ons like princess makeovers or Mickey Mouse ear adornments. Disney offers a surprising option that is hidden in their offerings: a Disney cruise.

A Disney cruise is a great way to enjoy the magic of Disney without breaking the bank.

NerdWallet has analyzed the average cost of travel for hundreds of itineraries in U.S. destinations.

  • Walt Disney World Resort, Florida

  • Disneyland Resort, California

  • Aulani is a Disney Resort & Spa located in Ko Olina.

  • Disney Cruise Line cruises leaving from U.S. ports.

NerdWallet also divided trips into three different price categories — Moderate, Deluxe and Value — in order to reflect the range of travelers’ frugality and luxury. For example, value cruise cabins had no windows and were located inside, while premium cabins included balconies and faced outward.

Learn more about NerdWallet’s method at the end this article.

Here are the prices for seven-night Disney trips (assuming double occupancy).

Disney Cruises are less than $2000 per person on average, assuming double occupancy. A cruise that includes all of the extras, such as spa treatments, port excursions and upgraded dining options costs less than Aulani.

What is included on a Disney Cruise

Cruises are expensive, but most of the amenities onboard are included. If you take full advantage of the Disney Cruise, including the buffets and shows for kids as well as the kid’s clubs on board, then the cost is often lower than any other Disney vacation.

Travelers are increasingly choosing Disney cruises. According to the Walt Disney Co.’s second-quarter earnings reports, domestic revenue for The Walt Disney Co. increased 14% over the previous year in the second quarter 2023. The company attributes this increase to Disney Cruise Line.

While results for Disney’s parks and resorts in the United States were not as favorable as the previous quarter, its cruise division stood out “due an increase in passengers cruise days,” including the addition of Disney Wish’s newest ship which departed with the first passenger in 2022.

Disney vacations aren’t always associated with Disney cruises. The Disney Wish has no rides, unless you include the AquaMouse which is advertised as Disney’s very first at-sea attraction. It is actually more of a water slide on steroids ).

(Photo courtesy of Disney) The AquaMouse is on board the Disney Wish, one of the latest ships from Disney Cruise Line. Disney Photo.

There are also other Disney park features on cruises such as character meet-and greets and stage performances. Sometimes, the cruises are better than the theme parks. There are usually shorter queues to meet the characters and more time with them if you choose ).

Why Disney Cruises might not be so expensive as you thought

The average cost of a seven-night Disney Cruise is $279 per night. This price falls just below the value budgeted $293 for seven nights in Disney World.

In order to calculate estimated trip costs, NerdWallet aggregated trip costs and analysed them across four categories.

  • Tickets for the park (including add-ons such as Genie+).

  • Rates for hotel rooms or cruise cabins on-property.

  • Disney restaurants: Food

  • Additional activities such as tours and spa treatments.

Disney Cruises tend to be all-inclusive so the analysis only included room rates and additional activities. Cruises may have a higher “room rate,” however, the final cost is lower, as there are no additional park tickets and meals that are not included.

Even though fewer categories contribute to the total, it doesn’t guarantee lower prices. Aulani is Disney’s Hawaii resort. Aulani, Disney’s resort in Hawaii, offers free activities like Aunty’s Beach House, a kids club, Disney character photos and stories by the campfire. But most of what else is available at a cost.

The average room rate is $760 per day. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would miss the Ka Wa’a Luau, starting at $175, for guests aged 10 or older. The cost of spa treatments, yoga, and snorkeling classes is also extra.

While Disney theme parks may not be as costly as Aulani, meals and tickets for the park can cost as much as $154 at Disneyland or $160 at Walt Disney World.

Cheaper family holiday options

There are other cruise lines that offer cheaper options than Disney. Carnival Cruise Line passengers spent, on average $219 per day per person. This is according to Carnival Corp.’s first quarter earnings report for 2023. This is a lot less than the estimated daily spending of $293 per person on Disney Cruises, according to NerdWallet.

There are many ways for people who want to go on a Disney holiday, but do not have a lot of money. NerdWallet’s calculation assumed that theme park guests would stay at Disney-owned resorts. However, there are many other cheaper hotels, which can be booked on points, within walking distance from Disney properties. There are many free and cheap activities at Disney World for those who want to enjoy Disney World without purchasing theme park tickets.

As with all trips, you should be flexible about your dates of travel. Even if you move your departure date by just a couple of days, it can save hundreds. Traveling during shoulder seasons or off-seasons usually means deeper discounts.


NerdWallet broke trips into three price tiers: Value, Moderate and Deluxe (the same classification Disney World uses for its hotels). They also analyzed prices of more than 100 activities and menu items. NerdWallet categorized trips by three categories: Value, Modest and Deluxe. (The same classifications Disney World applies to its hotel ).

NerdWallet doesn’t include costs for driving, parking or airfare. What’s included with each price level?

Travel style

A budget-minded traveler seeking affordable options, few frills and little to no add-ons.

Someone price conscious but who occasionally splurges.

Someone who will pay top dollar to access the high end of what Disney offers.

Tickets (Disney World)

One park per day tickets.

One park per day tickets with Genie+.

One park per day tickets with Genie+.

Hotels (Disney World)

Overnight at Disney’s Value hotels.

Overnight at Disney’s Moderate hotels.

Overnight at Disney’s Deluxe hotels.

Daily meals (Disney World)

Three meals (one entree and one beverage) at Value counter service restaurants or food carts.

Two Value meals plus one Moderate meal (one entree, one dessert or side and one beverage) at a casual, waiter-service restaurant.

One Value meal, one Moderate meal plus one Deluxe meal at an upscale, waiter-service restaurant.

Extra activities (Disney World)

Value add-ons, like cheap seats at Disney World’s Cirque show or a lower-budget spa treatment (like an express pedicure).

Moderate add-ons, like central seats at Disney World’s Cirque show or a grand pedicure at the spa.

Deluxe add-ons, like front-row seats at Disney World’s Cirque show or a full-body massage at the spa.

Stateroom type (Disney Cruise Line)

Standard Inside.

Deluxe Oceanview.

Deluxe Oceanview with Verandah.

Daily meals (Disney Cruise Line)

No extra meals added.

One additional meal at Palo.

One additional meal and wine pairing at Palo.

Extra activities (Disney Cruise Line)

No extra activities added.

Moderate add-ons, like a spa day pass or snorkeling excursion.

Deluxe add-ons, like a spa day pass with massage or scuba excursion.

NerdWallet then used the average cost to create sample budgets for trips.

Notes on

  • The trip assumes three meals daily and an overnight stay at a Disney hotel.

  • The hotel rates correspond to the departure dates of cruises.

  • Since Disney Cruise Line doesn’t offer single occupancy fares at discounted rates, the costs shown are per person.

You can save money by packing your own snacks, or you could spend more if you opt for miscellaneous costs (e.g. taxis, Mickey-shaped balloons or PhotoPass). You might save money if your snacks are packed, but you may spend more on miscellaneous expenses (such as taxis, Mickey balloons or PhotoPass ).

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