You can all go ahead and forget reading that post Deciding on Disney. Reasons? Because we are canceling the Disney cruise and booking with Carnival.
I know, I have already been told that we shouldn't--that Disney offers so much more than Carnival. Honestly? We've been dithering about this (and driving our travel agent, Simon, completely insane) for a few days.
We were booked on a 4 night cruise out of Port Canaveral. 20ish hours away, which would lead to a minimum of 3 nights in hotels (2 before the cruise, at least 1 after). Plus gas. Plus food. Plus the aggravation of driving for 20 hours with 2 small boys. And the cost of just the cruise? Slightly under $2800.
So Carnival has these balcony rooms on the Spirit class of ships. They are a secret to only a few (and now more, since you are all reading this). The rooms themselves are regular balcony rooms (something like 187 sq ft with a couch and shower, that type of basic room), but the balcony. Oh the balcony. Approximately 105 sqft, practically a bowling alley. (there are a couple pictures here, but those are not my pictures, so...yeah. No credit for me there.) I've been lusting after that balcony since I first saw pictures of it. But initially, the cruise was out of our price range. Even with the closer port (which equals less travel time, less gas, less hotels, less food) it was out of our budget. But then! Carnival dropped the price. Which brought it into our price range. As a matter of fact, since we canceled Disney way before penalty time, it's actually at least $200 cheaper than Disney (end cost after hotels, gas, etc.). Added to that, it's a whole lot closer. It would take 40 hours (minimum) of driving to get to and from Port Canaveral. Port of Baltimore? Under 24. May not seem like much to some, but when it comes to traveling with 2 tots? Oh yeah.
Thankfully, you need pretty much the same thing for a 7 day cruise as a 4 day. So my researching will not have been in vain!