The Report: DWA Cruises Into Disney Waters

Craig Cameron Olsen Photo/Courtesy Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
DreamWorks Animation characters from Madagascar

Studios compete again as Shrek and Donkey set sail for vacation market.

Are the high seas big enough for Mickey Mouse and Megamind?

On Dec. 1, DreamWorks Animation characters will begin cruising with 5,400 passengers aboard the newest ship from Royal Caribbean, challenging Disney’s 12-year dominance of the family cruise market.

 Royal’s ship, the Allure of the Seas, is a 16-deck behemoth weighing in at 220,000 tons — heavier than the two Disney ships, Magic and Wonder, combined. By early 2011, Royal will offer its DreamWorks Experience on three additional ships.

The Disney cruises (prices vary but seven nights in the Carribbean for a family of 4 costs between $3,300 and $6,700) are unmistakably Disney. The company operates the ships and even lobbied the U.S. Coast Guard to allow its lifeboats to be painted yellow, the color of Mickey Mouse’s famous oversized shoes.

 In contrast, while DWA cruises (about the same price) feature themed shows and roaming characters, its Royal deal is a more traditional (and capital-saving) licensing arrangement, and the experience will be a bit more low-key.

“You could never see a character the whole trip, or you could seek them out,” Royal president and CEO Adam Goldstein says.

DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg chose Royal after he and three other top executives cruised with them a year ago. “We think that this can grow into something that is meaningful,” Katzenberg says.

Disney isn’t taking the competition lightly: Two more ships — the Dream and the Fantasy — are coming by 2012, at a cost of about $1 billion each.

For what to expect on DreamWorks and Disney's respective cruises, go to the next page.



  • A live show featuring Madagascar characters and aquatic acrobatics
  • A How to Train Your Dragon ice show
  • Character breakfasts and parades with the gangs from Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and other DWA films


  • Broadway-style shows including Toy StoryThe Musical and The Golden Mickeys
  • Ariel Vision, a jumbo poolside LED screen that shows Disney movies and major sporting events
  • Pirates IN the Caribbean deck party with at-sea fireworks display