2023 Disney Cruises from UK at £139 a day! Go, go, go.
By Helen Wright
2023 is a good year for UK Disney fans! Did you know Disney Cruises from UK begin sailing again this summer? That’s right. You can sail on a Disney cruise from Southampton, UK to destinations in Europe AND on a seven-night staycation sail around the British Isles, which works out excellent value for money – but there are a few things you need to know:
Disney Cruise Line is one of the most fun and luxurious cruises for families, with spacious staterooms and all the amazing Disney entertainment and service on board. I have sailed on Disney Cruise Line twice now and it really is fantastic (and a top holiday), but it doesn’t come cheap. However, Disney cruises from UK are a great way to get the same Disney Cruise experience without the need to fly long-haul to the USA to embark – but, does it work out cheaper? We break it down:
Cover image: Disney Parks UK
New Disney cruises from UK Port of Southampton
Disney now have five cruise ships sailing around the world, with three more set to join the fleet in 2024 and 2025 (the next ship to be launched has been named as the Disney Treasure). Typically, Disney Cruise Line sails from the USA, most commonly docking at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. Sounds amazing? It is. But, us Brits have to pay to fly to the U.S, stay overnight for a day or two before boarding the ship, with the cost of the cruise on top. For some, it can be a big expense. (It’s worth noting that Disney Holidays do sell Fly and Cruise packages, which can be better value than booking separately).
In 2023, the Disney Dream is making her way to OUR shores for the first time ever, whisking guests away on a number of sailings around the UK and Europe. It’s a Disney Cruise UK first as the Disney Dream has never sailed from Southhampton in southern England before, sparking a lot of interest with cruise fans and Disney fans alike.
Take a look at our first trip on the Disney Dream.
Plus, for extra fun times, Disney Cruise Line is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year with a ‘Silver Anniversary at Sea’ on all its ships, offering new celebratory surprises on cruises between May and September 2023. These include: new entertainment, limited-time enhancements and food options, special decorations and limited-edition merchandise.
Disney Cruises UK: How much is a Disney Cruise from Southampton?
There are a few different options to enjoy Disney Cruises from the UK, all leaving from Southampton this summer and starting in July. Disney Cruise UK prices vary depending on where you want to sail to and for how long. The cheapest Disney Cruise Line deals this summer are a special staycation sail Disney Cruise from Southampton and Disney cruises from UK to Europe.
What is the Disney Cruise UK Staycation sail?
If you’re not familiar with the staycation cruise concept, it’s a fantastic idea: Children and fully vaccinated adults are welcomed on-board the spectacular cruise ships – which are essentially floating destinations for all-things holiday; including Disney restaurants, characters on board, West-End shows, pools, kids clubs and gorgeous state rooms, to name but a few. With no long flights or airports to contend with, it’s one of the easiest and hassle-free Disney holidays you can take with little ones in tow.
See our post on taking a cruise with a toddler
How much is the 2023 Disney Cruise UK and British Isles staycation sail?
This year’s ‘staycation sail’ is the seven-night British Isles Cruise from Southampton (with Silver Anniversary at Sea extras), which starts at £3,896 for a family of four or £2,587 for two adults. This is excellent value for seven nights on the ship, docking at Belfast, Northern Ireland, Greenock, Scotland, Liverpool, Cork) and Portland (Stonehenge).
All taxes, fees and port expenses are included with this price, as well as all food and soft drinks, 24-hour room service and, of course, the entirety of the on-board entertainment, with the exception of extra paid-for excursions or experiences such as wine tasting or in-room childcare. This works out as only £139 a day, per person, for a family of four, which is virtually unheard of for a Disney Cruise.
There is no question, this is a great deal, but there is a catch (of course). Dates for the Disney Cruise UK staycation sail don’t tally well with the British school holiday calendar. The Disney Cruise from Southampton leaves on Sunday 10th September 2023, meaning most school-aged children will be expected back to class. Depending on how you feel about your kids missing school, for a potential once-in-a-lifetime UK Disney Cruise for some families, you’re unlikely to get a better price than this. Of course, if your children go back to school later in the month, or you have pre-school little ones, this is a fantastic opportunity to experience a Disney Cruise from Southampton for the cheapest price possible.
GOOD TO KNOW: The price quoted is based on an interior state room (find out how staterooms on the Disney Cruise Line compare here). For an Ocean-view room, the prices start from £4118, or £147 a day for a family of 4).
Is the Disney Cruise UK sail worth the money?
We travelled on the Disney Magic at Sea with our two kids aged 5 and 2 and they loved it. I can be completely honest when I say they are still talking about it 18-months later. With UK destinations and resorts now becoming fully booked during busy times and with sky-rocketing prices since Covid, the opportunity to enjoy a Disney Cruise in the UK with no flights to consider (and pay for) is competitive and well worth checking out.
It’s true that the Disney Cruise UK sailings don’t go to Castaway Cay in the Bahamas (sadly), but there is so much on-board for families to enjoy together. We all absolutely loved our Disney Cruise from Southampton on the Disney Magic in 2021. It really is an amazing Disney holiday at sea.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and 24-hour room service are all included in the cruise package, but alcohol is not included. The Disney Dream has five impressive restaurants, each with a different theme and cuisine, as well as interactive elements. Of course, there is a huge variety of entertainment and activities, including a supervised kids club with themed playrooms based on Toy Story and Star Wars (kids can pilot the Millennium Falcon!), pools, crafting workshops and games. There is also a huge theatre showing a Broadway-standard Disney musical Beauty and the Beast. Not to mention Marvel characters, Princesses and 30+ Disney Characters making appearances throughout the cruise.
How does the Disney cruise from Southampton price compare to the U.S. departure cost?
An equivalent cruise on the same dates, travelling on Disney Fantasy from Port Canaveral in Florida, is £4,481 for a family of four, seven-night cruise-only price. Flights to Orlando on Virgin Atlantic on supporting dates are around £570 return to Orlando, per person.
A package deal with DisneyHolidays.co.uk is approximately £8200 for a family of four and this includes transfers, a night in the Hyatt MCO before you embark, 7-nights on board the Disney Fantasy and return economy flights from London. This works out approximately £295 per person, per day on the package.
By my calculations, staying local for your Disney Cruise UK sail could mean a saving of around £145 per person, per day (without the needing to cover the cost of flights, hotel and transfers), which is pretty tempting.
*Prices are correct as of March 2023
Disney Cruises UK to Europe – in the school holidays
What are the other UK Disney Cruises from Southampton?
In 2023, there are scheduled Disney Cruises from UK to other destinations in Europe, including Spain, France, Holland, Denmark and the Norwegian Fjords. The longer the cruise, the cheaper it works out per day, but if budget is tight, the cheapest Disney cruises from UK to Europe are the 4-night Disney cruises from Southampton to either Spain and France.
Both the Spain and France sailings are during the school holidays in August for most schools… just. The best Disney Cruise UK departure, date wise, during the holidays is the four-night France Disney Cruise from Southampton, which leaves on 26th August (returning on 30th August). This is priced at £4,686, based on two adults and two children sharing. This sails to Western France, where you can disembark the ship and explore the medieval port of La Rochelle for the day.
The comparable four-night Disney cruise from Southampton to Spain departs between 30th August and 3rd September, priced slightly less at £4,594 (family of four). On this sailing, you disembark in the sunny, foodie destination of Bilbao, Spain, home to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the charming streets of Casco Viego.
The other 2023 Disney Cruise from the UK, leaving during the school holidays is the 7-Night Norwegian Fjords Cruise from Southampton between the 19th and 26th August. Priced at £6,687 for a family of four. This is a higher price point than the, shorter, France and Spain Disney cruises from UK but offers a fantastic itinerary to aspirational destinations like the majestic Norwegian fjords, Skjolden, the Briksdal Glacier and Feigefossen, one of Norway’s tallest waterfalls. This would be the perfect cruise for anyone looking for a unique holiday destination as well as a brilliant Disney Cruise Line experience.
All of these Disney cruises from the UK will incorporate the Silver Anniversary celebrations.
Can you go on the Disney Cruise from Southampton without kids?
Of course! In fact, Simon and I sailed on the Disney Dream before we became parents and had such an amazing time. View the video here! The 2023 sailings are ideal for Brits need to worry about UK school dates and child-free adults will benefit from an excellent deal. There are a few other cruises in September too.
Disney Cruise Line is known for its elegant interiors and luxury facilities and its ships are some of the finest on the seas. Despite being a world-class brand, I was surprised by how fancy the ship was. As well as the wonderful Disney theming on the main decks, there is a range of adult-only areas, from romantic restaurants (Palo and Remy), to evening entertainment, bars and clubs, a gym, spa and an adult-exclusive deck, pool and hot tub. The adult pool even has a swim-up bar for cocktails.
There are also extras you can book if you are 21+, such as whisky tastings, cocktail making classes and other adult-exclusive activities – all totally kid (and Disney) free. I actually think Disney Cruise Line is a fantastic choice for child-free couples and groups because, since the cruise is thought-of as a family ship, the adult-areas are usually not overcrowded, making them extra relaxing and slick.
TOP TIP: On the Disney Cruise UK, both the Oceaneer Club and adult-exclusive restaurant Palo, along with some other experiences, may require an advance booking under new rules. Aim to have an idea of when and where you want to eat before you board the ship.
What to expect from the Disney Cruise UK sail on the Disney Dream
A Deck Party with fireworks* (*to be confirmed) is one of the highlights of the Disney Dream. The main deck swimming pool actually coverts into a dancefloor. There are also two Broadway-style shows; Beauty and the Beast and Disney’s Believe, an original musical about the power of dreams starring a cast of recognisable Disney characters. Character meet-and-greets around the ship from Mickey, Minnie, the Princesses and the Marvel characters. There is also usually a ‘Marvel day at sea’ with characters and activities based on the Marvel movies, such as Spiderman, Black Panther and Thor.
There are three swimming pools on the Disney Dream. The big pool is Mickey’s Pool, a large open pool on the main deck and there is a smaller, kids pool and splash area, Donald’s pool. Excitingly, you can also ride the AquaDuck, a water coaster that extends off the side of the ship.
GOOD TO KNOW: Due to Bahamian and US laws (under which the Disney Cruise Line is registered), children who are not yet toilet-trained or wearing swimming nappies are not allowed into ANY of the main pools. They are, however, allowed in the splash zones. This is something parents should definitely consider before booking a cruise.
Disney-themed family-friendly entertainment like trivia game shows and dance parties can be found in D Lounge. This is also a top spot for special appearances by Disney Characters too, so keep a look out. There is an on-board cinema showing classic Disney films and new releases. Tweens can head to a cool club called ‘Edge’ for video games, music and movies, while older teens tend to hang out at ‘Vibe’, a parents-free, hipster space to have fun and be cool (so I’m told).
Food on the Disney Cruise UK – Disney Dream cruise from Southampton
Food and soft drinks are included with the cruise and you can purchase a wine package for your sail or order drinks individually at the table. Guests can also take on two bottles of wine per person when you board at each port. On board, you can choose from four family restaurants:
Animator’s Palate is one of my favourite restaurants on the ship. It celebrates the magic of Disney animation with a unique dinner show featuring some favourite Disney Characters. The food is Asian/Californian and absolutely delicious. Plus, I love the Mickey chairs!
Enchanted Garden has a great international menu and is set in a fancy, conservatory setting.
At Royal Palace, guests receive a royal welcome from the Princess Promenade as they enter, before enjoying a very regal four-course contemporary French menu.
Cabanas allows you to eat in a casual buffet style (with updated Covid-safe measures) throughtout the day. So easy with kids and this was Simon’s favourite because he was spoilt for choice!
There are also two adult-exclusive restaurants, Palo and Remy, which offer fine dining in an intimate enviroment. These restaurants may require reservations and may have a surcharge.
The very cool thing about Disney Cruise Line dining, is that the main restaurants operate a unique server rotation system, which I believe is only offered on Disney cruises. This means your restaurant servers and sommeliers will move to each main restaurant with you as you dine each night, getting to know you and all your dining needs.