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DCL Classic ships vs. Dream class ships – which is right for your family?

Disney Cruise Classic vs. Dream Class Ships
Disney Dream at Port

Disney Cruise Line is known as the best cruise line for families, but did you know that they sail two different classes of ships? Known as Classic and Dream, the two classes have a lot in common, but they have some important differences as well. How do you know which ship will work best for your family? We’ve got the inside scoop!

Disney Cruise Line launched in 1998 with the first of two Classic ships, the Disney Magic. The next Classic ship, the Wonder, launched in 1999. Immediately recognizable from their retro-modern design and color scheme, the Classic ships were an immediate success. The Magic and Wonder have 11 decks, are 964 long, house 877 staterooms and up to 2,400 passengers.





The Dream class ships set sail with the Disney Dream in 2011 followed by the Disney Fantasy in 2012. These ships share the same distinctive exterior design as the Classic ships but are notably larger. The Dream and Fantasy have 14 decks, are 1115 feet long, house 1250 staterooms and up to 4,000 passengers.

All four Disney Cruise ships offer exceptional service, Broadway-quality entertainment, award-winning kids activities and amazing food. The stateroom options between the two ships are nearly identical in style, size and design. That said, there are some differences between the two classes that can help you decide which ship is right for you.





Ports and Destinations

The Dream and Fantasy currently sail exclusively from Port Canaveral in Florida. This port is easy to reach when flying into Orlando, and also great for adding on a little pre- or post- visit to Disney World. Generally speaking, the Dream sails three and four-night voyages to the Bahamas and all include a stop at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.

Disney Cruise Classic vs. Dream Class Ships
Disney Dream at Castaway Cay

The Classic ships have more varied itineraries and launch from a wider variety of ports. In 2019, the Wonder is visiting Mexico’s Baja Peninsula and Mexican Riviera from the Port of San Diego, Alaska cruises departing from Vancouver as well as a variety of Caribbean itineraries from San Juan and Galveston, Texas. The Disney Magic is offering a variety of Bahamian and Caribbean itineraries out of Miami, Mediterranean and other European itineraries from Civitavecchia, Barcelona, Dover and Copenhagen before returning to the U. S. for a number of cruises leaving from New York.





Disney Cruise Classic vs. Dream Class Ships
Disney Wonder at Sea

Ship Size

The larger size of the Dream Class ships has an impact on a number of different aspects of your vacation. First, if you are concerned about sea-sickness, the larger vessels, in my personal experience, experience less movement and are easier to handle if you are prone to motion sickness.

Second, the larger Dream Class ships hold more people. The Bahamian and Caribbean itineraries are very popular and the ships are most often nearly full to capacity. All the onboard spaces on these ships are larger than on the Classic ships to accommodate the larger capacity (aside from the individual staterooms), but if you have sailed on both ship categories, you can definitely tell that the crowds are larger. This is also an impact when stopping at Castaway Cay – there will be more people ashore enjoying the island.

Innovations and Updates

Disney Cruise Line definitely learned what worked and what didn’t on their ships in the decade between when the Classic and Dream classes were developed. In addition to increasing the size of the ships to accommodate all the eager guests, they made some innovative adjustments. Most visible of all of the changes was the addition of the innovative AquaDunk water coaster at sea. Found on the top deck of the Dream and Fantasy, this coaster is fun for the whole family and offers really cool views off the edge of the ships.

Disney Cruise Classic vs. Dream Class Ships
AquaDuck – Disney Dream and Fantasy

This does not mean that the Classic ships haven’t kept up with the latest and greatest! The ships are pulled for dry dock periods in which large scale changes have been made to keep the ships looking fresh and to add new experiences for their guests. The addition of character-based restaurants – Tiana’s Place on the Wonder and Rapunzel’s Royal Table on the Magic – are unique to the Classic class ships and are very memorable experiences.  The Magic also features the AquaDunk drop slide for the adventure seekers.

My family is embarking on our eighth Disney Cruise this summer and we have enjoyed three cruises on the Classic ships and four on the Dream class ships. While we absolutely have loved all of our voyages, we agreed that after cruising on the Dream class ships, there were some things we missed about them when we had another voyage on one of the smaller Classic Ships. One of the activities that my kids really love is the Midship Detective Agency – be sure to check it out on your next cruise! My husband and I have found that Remy, the premium dining, adult-only venue that is only on the Dream and Fantasy is our favorite place to eat on the planet and is a can’t miss for us when we cruise with Disney.

Disney Cruise Classic vs. Dream Class Ships
Sunsets at sea – amazing regardless of which ship you choose!

Disney Cruise Line has three new ships in the works that are scheduled to set sail in 2021, 2022 and 2023. These new vessels will be similar in size to the Dream class, and we can’t wait to hear all the details!

Ready to start planning your next trip to a Disney destination? As an agent with Chip & Co’s official travel partner, Key to the World Travel, I would love to help with your first, or next, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line or Disneyland vacation! Email me at missy.graner@keytotheworldtravel.com or simply fill out the quote request below. And be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram.





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Missy Graner

Before becoming a travel agent specializing in Disney Destinations with Key to the World Travel, Missy Graner was a Disney travel super fan. She took her first trip to Walt Disney World in 1979 as a child, and now enjoys annual trips to the Disney parks and on Disney Cruise Line with her husband and four kids. Having traveled with her own kids as young as 5 weeks to now 19 years old, she knows that there is no perfect time to go to Disney, every age is unique and magical.


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