Cruising Without Mickey?: Comparing Other Cruise Lines to Disney Cruise Line - PassPorter.com
PassPorter.com
Award-winning travel guidebooks
Home Florida - Walt Disney World Caribbean - Disney Cruise Line California - Disneyland Resort Anywhere and Everywhere! Travelers Store Message Boards PassPorter's Club Help!
  About Us  |  Customs Office   |   Register Your Book   |   Book Updates   |  Newsletter  |  Articles  |  Photos  |   Follow Us on
       LINKS
       ARTICLES
Globetrotting Planning Articles

Globetrotting Traveling Articles

Globetrotting Lodging Articles

Globetrotting Touring Articles

Globetrotting Dining Articles

Globetrotting Making Magic Articles

Globetrotting General Travel Articles

View all PassPorter articles
PassPorter's
Article Tools
Print Article
Download PDF
View Photos
Visit Forum

Cruising Without Mickey?: Comparing Other Cruise Lines to Disney Cruise Line

International Travel photo
by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 09-07-2012
  

Cool Tip: Click here to get a FREE PDF version of this article, fully formatted to print and put into your PassPorter Deluxe Binder!


Filed in Articles > International Travel > Cruising  

It was with some trepidation that we stepped aboard our first non-Disney cruise earlier this year.


By this point, we'd completed four cruises with Disney, taking us to places as far apart as the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Alaska, and we’d become very used to the Disney way of doing things at sea. How would we cope with another cruise line? The answer was, surprisingly well and better that we thought we would.

First, why were we cruising with another company? Put simply, because Disney doesn't cruise around the Norwegian fjords, and they're also not (yet!) part of the amazing deals we get through one of our supermarkets here, which meant that the store's loyalty program paid for the majority of our cruise. Now if only Disney did that...

The line we chose was P&O, and I will be honest, I didn’t know much about them before that, but once we were booked, I set about finding out more. They’re actually celebrating their 175th anniversary this year, so they’re a company with quite a history. Now a division of the much larger Carnival Corp., they operate a total of seven ships, some accommodating up to 3,000 passengers, like the Azura, which we sailed on, while others carry much smaller numbers, around 700 people. They even have three adults-only ships, although sadly we didn’t get one of those for our cruise. However, that really didn’t matter, as the vast majority of people on board were adults.

That’s the first huge difference we noticed with Disney. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there weren’t many families on board, instead much of the make-up of the ship was either middle-aged or pensioners. A lot of them also appeared to have quite an extensive cruising history. Ask anyone if it was their first cruise, and they’d say no, and immediately reel off a list of where they'd sailed to before. It was slightly disconcerting, and even more so was the reaction when we said we were Disney cruisers. There was definitely some snobbery around that, and a complete lack of understanding of what Disney cruises were all about.



P&O Azura - Seventeen restaurant photo
P&O Azura - Seventeen restaurant

Inside Seventeen, the Azura's adult only restaurant that charges additional to eat here, but it's worth the money! - photo by chezp

The second we boarded, we noticed that the theming on the Azura wasn't up to the level of Disney, but my goodness, they tried. Their atrium was still quite spectacular, and as the cruise wore on, I discovered more about the art on the ship on a special tour. I loved the way that one restaurant had portraits made out of nothing but food. It’s the sort of thing Disney would do, so obviously other cruise lines also know that the little details can make all the difference.

The one thing I was absolutely dreading on this cruise was throwing open the door to our cabin, having heard so much about how big Disney’s rooms are compared to other ships. I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Our room was a lovely size, and we actually thought it felt bigger than anything we’d had before with Disney.

We suspect some of that was down to the design of the room, which seemed to be packed with storage space. We absolutely loved the huge wardrobe, opposite the bathroom door, which was large enough to store our three suitcases. Although the bathroom wasn’t a split one, it was perfectly adequate for our needs, and the balcony was definitely a lot larger than its equivalent on Disney. All in all, we felt the cabins were actually much nicer than on Disney, something I never expected to say.

My major disappointment this cruise was the lack of rotational dining. I didn’t realise how much I loved this system, until we didn’t have it any longer. In a way, it was nice to have the same table in the same restaurant each night, as we always knew where we were going, but we had to make an effort to visit the other restaurants for lunch or breakfast, and I would have preferred to have experienced them for dinner.

The food quality was all over the place. Some meals were superb, while others were sublime, and in one example, downright awful. However, having said that, I can’t say that Disney necessarily scores that much better, as that sounds very similar to our experience on our seven-night Alaskan cruise.

Interestingly, we felt that the restaurants on board the Azura that required a cover charge were very similar in quality to Palo. We didn’t bother comparing them to Remy, as obviously you pay a lot more for that experience, so it didn’t seem fair. However, both Seventeen, their adult-only restaurant, and Sindhu, their Indian restaurant, were first class, both in terms of the food, the setting, and the service. That was a pleasant surprise, as I really didn’t expect them to match Disney in this respect, but they did.

The only thing on the food and drink side that we weren’t impressed with were the charges for the soft drinks with your meals. We really have been spoiled by Disney in that regard, and it did feel as if P&O was desperately trying to get more money out of us, which is understandable, given their fares are much more reasonable than Disney’s. You certainly get what you pay for on a cruise.

Perhaps one of the biggest letdowns for us was the onboard entertainment. We knew it wouldn’t be of the same quality of Disney, but a lot of the evening shows just didn’t interest us at all. The only one that did, a Freddie Mercury impersonator, was standing-room-only by the time we got there, which was a real disappointment. Equally, a lot of the listings in Horizons, P&O’s equivalent of a Navigator, didn’t jump out at us, which was a great shame, particularly on our days at sea.

With the exception of the entertainment, I thought the Azura, and P&O, matched up surprisingly well to Disney’s high standards. It was a much more pleasant experience that I expected it to be, and we’re now thinking of another non-Disney cruise in a couple of year’s time, as we’d like to explore the Baltic cities. Of course, we’d prefer to do it with Disney, so we'll watch with interest to see what their 2014 itinerary contains, but if that doesn’t come through, cruising with another company won’t concern us half as much in the future.


P&O Azura - cabin photo
P&O Azura - cabin

The very nicely sized cabin we had aboard the Azura. - photo by chezp





TING!
You've discovered a PassPorter's Club Concierge Tip!
Ting the bell to read your tip and save it in your Concierge Desk!
About the Author:
Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have made numerous visits to destinations across America and Europe. They recently completed their tour of every Disney theme park around the world, which culminated in their visit to Japan, including the Tokyo Disney Resort. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!

Related Links:
Disney Cruise Line Member Cruise - A DVC Member's Report last updated 01/02/2009
Amazing Disney Cruise Line - Finding the Wonder & Magic At Sea last updated 3/6/2011
Alaska - An Inside Look At Dog Sledding last updated 8/14/2008
Inside Staterooms Onboard the Disney Cruise Line - Life On The Inside last updated 7/17/2008
A Magic Time In The Med - A Semi-Live Trip Report From the Disney Magic last updated 5/31/2007




Reader Comments:


So what do you think? Click here to share your comments, feedback, and experiences on this article and topic!

(Note: You must be a member of our PassPorter Message Board Community to leave comments. Join today for free!)




Updated 09-07-2012 - Article #842 



Read additional articles from PassPorter.com

Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter, PassPorter News, published for more than 58,000 opt-in subscribers worldwide. As an added bonus for subscribing, you will receive a 20% discount coupon for the PassPorter Store -- no catch!

E-mail Address:

First Name:

E-mail Format:
-Text/Don't Know  

-HTML

 
 

We respect your privacy and never sell or rent our subscriber list. Subscribing will not result in more spam! We guarantee it.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Copyright 1999-2014
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

       SEARCH
       LEARN MORE
Learn More With Our Award-Winning Guidebooks


 

RSS General PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel - Globetrotting: General Travel Planning
PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disn...
Planning a trip around the globe, or just away for the weekend? Ask questions and share experiences! Forum Sponsored by CruisingCo.com


Cape Cod or Maine Coast-Which would you do?
by Huntermom
13 Apr 2014 at 7:42pm
I am thinking of getting a rental house for a week this summer and inviting my son and his wife and infant as well as my sister and her husband...
(click title above to view replies)

Park,ride and stay logan
by Huntermom
9 Apr 2014 at 7:02pm
I have a 6:30 am flight out of Logan in JUne. I am going to Houston for 8 days and am wondering if I should look into a hotel that provides parking...
(click title above to view replies)

Vegas hotel help
by Katie
5 Apr 2014 at 7:53pm
I know I've asked this before but couldn't find my post so... We will be staying in Vegas for one night on our way to California. The kids want to...
(click title above to view replies)

London in June Recs
by buckysmom
1 Apr 2014 at 1:40pm
DD (13)is attending a summer school in St Andrews in July so since we're already paying Delta the exorbitant fare, we're going to spend 5 nights in...
(click title above to view replies)

Sanibel Island, Florida
by KathyL
30 Mar 2014 at 6:17pm
We are considering taking a trip to Sanibel Island late this year or early the following year (December/January). Does anyone have any great...
(click title above to view replies)

Must See's in New Orleans?
by B.M.
30 Mar 2014 at 1:18pm
In a few weeks, I will be spending a day in New Orleans with 3 teenagers, an eleven year old, and a seven year old. I'm looking to do about a...
(click title above to view replies)

Eating in DC
by DebbieG
25 Mar 2014 at 10:37am
I will be in DC for 3 days and 2 nights, most likely staying at the Holiday Inn on C street, just behind the Air and Space Museum. Since we will be...
(click title above to view replies)



Total Visits: 2235


PassPorter ~ 1998-2014 ~ 16 Years of Making Dreams Come True!
Publishers of bestselling travel guidebooks and proud recipients of 13 national book awards
About PassPorter
About Us
Press
Privacy Policy
Images & Artwork
Guidebooks
About
Previews
Buy
Reviews
Updates
Features
News & Updates
Articles
Podcasts
Photos
Message Boards
Newsletter
Concierge Desk
Desktop
Trips
Books & E-Books
Tips
Settings
Customs Office
Register Books
Book Updates
Contests
Checklists
Help & Info
Finding Answers to Questions
Help Desk
Using Your PassPorter Forum
Store Customer Service
E-Mail Us
Follow Us
PassPorter.com Front Page (Updated Daily!)
PassPorter Newsletter (weekly and free)
Latest Posts
Facebook
Pinterest
YouTube Channel
Questions? Please visit our Help Desk to learn how to contact us online, by e-mail, and by phone.
Please feel free to link to this page so that other vacationers can find it.