We broke down all the details of the five Disney Cruise Line ships (and the three upcoming ships) in our Disney Cruise Line 101, now it’s time to rank them. The Disney Cruise Line ships, in order of launch, are the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, and Disney Wish. Many of the ships have seen changes over the years, particularly the Magic and Wonder. Here is how we rank them, from worst to best, in their current states.
5. Disney Wish
This will probably come as no surprise to frequent WDWNT readers. Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship had many glaring issues. Probably most notable to frequent cruisers is spacing. Lines for things like guest services and table-service restaurants block hallways and staircases.
In addition to the spacing issues, there are general layout issues.
The Disney Wish, which is just a little bigger than the Dream and Fantasy, has just two sets of stairs and elevators. This makes traversing the ship a little more difficult. This writer found it particularly annoying when going to their stateroom on deck 2 — the same deck as the children’s Oceaneer’s Club. There’s one convenient staircase from the atrium down to deck 2, next to the Oceaneer’s Club, but it was always clogged with people. And then at the bottom of the stairs, it was crowded with more people trying to get into the Club.
With its weird layout, Disney Wish is the first Disney Cruise Line ship to not have a proper adult district. The bars and nightclubs are scattered around the ship and The Bayou is essentially in the middle of a hallway. Visiting these doesn’t feel as much like a haven for adults.
On the top decks, there isn’t one main pool. Instead, there are several small pools. Going swimming feels more like hanging out in a non-functional hot tub than getting any kind of exercise.
The Disney Wish isn’t a total flop, and some of its issues could be addressed in future refurbishments. It has beautiful theming and decorations. Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge is too small, but is an interesting hangout spot. The Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure dinner show is fun. And the new “The Little Mermaid” live stage show is well done. There are pros and cons to all of these ships, the Disney Wish just happens to have a lot of cons to go along with a higher price tag than the other ships in the fleet.
4. Disney Dream
Next up is the Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line’s third ship. You’ll notice following the Disney Wish that we have far fewer complaints about each ship, but there still has to be a number 4 on a list of 5.
What brings the Disney Dream down for us is the restaurants. Enchanted Garden (which is also on the Fantasy, but we’ve ranked that higher for reasons we’ll explain later) is pretty, but doesn’t have a strong theme. It doesn’t stand up to other Disney Cruise Line restaurants like Tiana’s Place (which we’ll also get to) or even 1923 on the Wish. The upscale restaurant, Royal Palace, is also a bit of a vague Disney Princess theme. Animator’s Palate — which exists on the first four ships in one way or another — is always cool, but the restaurant’s show on the Dream is basically just a rehash of Turtle Talk with Crush at EPCOT.
One minor note about the Dream’s Oceaneer’s Club is that there’s an entire room themed to Disney Infinity — a game that Disney stopped developing in 2016, so the room only becomes more dated as time goes on.
A detail in Disney Dream’s favor is the Millennium Falcon room of the Oceaneer’s Club. There are “Star Wars”-inspired rooms on the Dream, Fantasy, and Wish, but the Millennium Falcon room is unique and offers kids a chance to pilot the famous spaceship. Adults can visit too, during open houses. The cockpit space is larger than that of Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and offers a different kind of experience, more suited for kids and more suited for photos.
The Disney Dream was also the first Disney Cruise Line ship to feature the AquaDuck, a fun waterslide that encircles the ship.
3. Disney Wonder
The Disney Wonder was Disney Cruise Line’s second ship. It’s smaller than the Wish, Dream, and Fantasy, which is a slight con, but not a major one. Sometimes it’s nice to be on a smaller, more intimate ship.
The Wonder has some of the best restaurants on Disney Cruise Line, at least when it comes to theming (food quality doesn’t vary significantly from ship to ship). Again, it has a version of Animator’s Palate, but the show on the Wonder “Drawn to Magic” makes more sense for the restaurant’s animation theme. It takes guests through the history of Disney’s animated stories before Sorcerer Mickey himself steps out to circle the space. We do love a live character moment.
The Wonder’s upscale family dining restaurant is Triton’s. It’s more solidly themed than Royal Palace on the Dream, and connects back to the Ariel statue in the ship’s atrium. Guests feel like they’re dining underwater thanks to stained glass on the ceiling, offering a more interesting and unique dining experience than some of the other ships’ upscale restaurants.
Tiana’s Place is the third family dining venue on the Disney Wonder and it’s one of Disney’s best dining experiences worldwide. Featuring live musical entertainment, character moments, and a mini Mardi Gras parade, Tiana’s Place has everything you want from, well, Tiana’s Place. Not to mention the New Orleans-inspired food, which ties the whole thing together.
Disney Cruise Line stage shows sometimes rotate to different ships, but at the time of writing, the Disney Wonder’s Broadway-style shows are “The Golden Mickeys,” “Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic,” and “Frozen, A Musical Spectacular” — all excellent shows, but “The Golden Mickeys” and “Disney Dreams” are especially important to highlight. They’re both original shows to Disney Cruise Line and two of DCL’s longest-running shows. While cheesy and more-or-less just a revue of Disney music, they’re both cute and we appreciate there being two original shows on one ship. “The Golden Mickeys” even proved so popular that it was performed at Hong Kong Disneyland from 2005 to 2015.
The big con for the Disney Wonder? No AquaDuck. The waterslide was introduced on the Dream and then the Fantasy. The Wish has the AquaMouse. But the Disney Wonder is still lacking this piece of recreation.
2. Disney Fantasy
We’ll get the cons out of the way for the Disney Fantasy because we basically already talked about them with the Dream: Enchanted Garden and Royal Court. Again, Enchanted Garden doesn’t have a strong theme and Royal Court is essentially the same as Royal Palace, with basic princess theming.
There’s plenty that sets the Fantasy apart from its sister ship, however. Animator’s Palace does feature the same Turtle Talk with Crush show, but it also has “Animation Magic.” This show lets guests draw their own character and then, near the end of their meal, see it come to life and dance through Disney films. It’s a great finale for the animation-inspired restaurant and gets always guests excited.
The Dream has the Millennium Falcon, while the Fantasy has Star Wars: Command Post. It may not be as thrilling as a step into Han Solo’s ship, but this is balanced out by Marvel Super Hero Academy next door — a big improvement from the Disney Infinity Game Room on the Dream.
But what really elevates Disney Fantasy is its adult district, a.k.a. Europa. As the name suggests, Europa takes guests on a tour of Europe, making it the most seamlessly themed adult district on any Disney Cruise Line ship. Both the Dream and the Fantasy have Skyline, a bar that lets you sightsee from atop a skyscraper, but the Fantasy also has The Tube, where you’ll step into the London underground; O’Gills Pub, an authentic-feeling Irish bar; Ooh La La, an opulent but elegant champagne bar; and La Piazza, for Italy.
The Europa nightclubs and lounges don’t rely on Disney IPs like some bars on the other ships, but La Piazza in particular feels like a nod to Disney’s history. It recalls Walt’s story of watching his daughters on a merry-go-round while he thought up Disneyland, and also makes you feel like you’re stepping into “Mary Poppins.”
1. Disney Magic
There’s something, well, magical about the Disney Magic. It’s Disney Cruise Line’s first ship and not only can you see the care put into it from the start, but Disney has gone back to keep updating the Magic without ruining it.
As we mentioned, of the two small ships, the Disney Magic is the only one with the AquaDunk. We’ve also talked about Animator’s Palate a lot and, like the Fantasy, the Magic has two shows in the restaurant, and it’s the two best ones: “Animation Magic” (7-night+ sailings) and “Drawn to Magic.”
The second restaurant we’ll talk about is Rapunzel’s Royal Table, which replaced Carioca’s. The original restaurant was named for José Carioca, but the Caballero wasn’t enough of an anchor for the vaguely Rio-inspired restaurant. We don’t adore Rapunzel’s Royal Table as much as Tiana’s Place, but it’s similar in that it has live characters singing and a beautiful, detailed interior.
The Magic’s upscale family dining venue is Lumiere’s. Obviously inspired by “Beauty and the Beast,” it features roses in glass cloches hanging from the ceiling and a mural of the ballroom scene on one wall. “Beauty and the Beast” is an obvious pick for an upscale restaurant, making Lumiere’s a precursor to Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom. It’s something that Disney Cruise Line hasn’t been able to match since.
Disney Magic’s stage shows include “Tangled: The Musical,” which is a fine show that theoretically goes with Rapunzel’s Royal Table, but also might be too much “Tangled” for some people. “Disney Dreams” (one of our favorite originals) is also on the Magic.
But “Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story” makes Disney Magic’s entertainment stand out. This show is similar to “Cinderella III: A Twist in Time,” in which Lady Tremaine tries to take away Cinderella’s happy ending. The direct-to-video threequel to “Cinderella” was released after “Twice Charmed” debuted, but the stage show was updated in 2016 to be more like the movie. Still, they aren’t exactly the same, and “Twice Charmed” offers something different for Disney Magic guests. It’s not a one-hour version of a Disney movie and it’s not a revue of classic Disney songs — it’s a new show with new songs. It debuted in 2005 and there’s a reason it’s endured for almost 20 years.
What do you think? Do you disagree with our ranking of the Disney Cruise Line ships? Let us know in the comments.