So you may be wondering, “what does a Disney cruise really cost?” You may have heard from friends or read online that Disney cruises are expensive. Well, if you compare them to some other cruise lines, they are. For instance, a seven night Caribbean cruise in December of this year in a verandah stateroom costs around $3500 per person. On the Royal Caribbean cruise line, for the same cruising destination and around the same time frame, well, you can stay in a suite for less money. In many ways less is not always more or better and I think the higher prices on a Disney cruise ship definitely reflect this.
The most important thing to keep in mind: Once you board your cruise, the only thing you would be spending money on are the tips. Other than that, food, entertainment, drinks (alcoholic ones excluded)-it’s all covered in your cruise rate so unlike other types of vacations where you can still spend money at your destination, on a cruise, it’s presumably all been paid for.
This is an experience I highly recommend whether you are with or without little ones in your sailing party. If you feel bad about ditching the kids for a night, don’t. You do not want to miss out on dining at Palo (or Remy, depending on which ship you’re on).
Dinner for 2 at Palo: $50 total
NOTE: THE ABOVE PRICES DO NOT INCLUDE ANY ALCOHOL
THE NON-ALCOHOLIC VARIETY
What many people don’t realize is that on a Disney cruise soft drinks are complimentary 24/7! Disney is one of the only cruise lines to offer this, but they are definitely one of the only family cruise lines (i.e. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian) to do so. So what money you may be saving by sailing on another cruise line, well if your family of four likes their Coke at dinner, that will quickly add up over a seven night cruise. But the other major plus of this is that you can also have lemonade, milk, hot tea or coffee, at any time. Dispensers and coffee/tea stations are set up in both their casual, buffet restaurants and out near the pools on deck 9.
TOTAL COST: $0
WINE AND DINE PACKAGES
You know me, I’m hardly a big drinker. While I will have a mixed drink here and there, I do not drink alcohol every day. So the following figures that I list are most likely not current but they should provide you with a general cost idea. Disney offers what are called “wine and dine packages,” providing a bottle of wine with your meal each evening. They offer two types of packages-classic and premium.
Classic package on a 3 night cruise: $84
Premium package on a 3 night cruise: $129
Alternatively, a glass of white wine from Santa Barbara county: $7.50
We both had some mixed drinks while on the cruise (and D a beer). While some of the staff did promote an alcoholic drink package (I believe this included both beer and mixed drinks), we abstained as it was around 11 drinks (per person) and on a three night cruise this seemed excessive. I was pleasantly surprised by the prices, they definitely didn’t seem “marked up” like some things on a cruise are.
2 mixed drinks with tip: $22
Beer with tip: $6.18
1 mixed drink with tip: $6.84
NON-ALCOHOLIC SPECIAL DRINKS
While your standard milk, juice, coffee, tea beverages are included, if you’re like me and want that chai latte or a smoothie, these do come with a cost. On board, there is a “coffee house” that is located in the adults-only section of the ship (the Cove Cafe).
Chai latte with tip: $6.18
Smoothie (these came in large or small, the following price is for a large) with tip: $7.04
GENERAL MERCHANDISE SOUVENIRS
While we bought a bit, it was by no means excessive. Disney makes a killing with its merchandise on board and I’m sure some families spent hundreds of dollars (if not more) on things for the parents, kids, etc. Some of the items we bought included a Christmas ornament, stuffed animal, t-shirts, pins, and postcards.
Amount spent: Roughly $120
To my supreme pleasure, we came home from the cruise with a piece of art. No, I didn’t buy the massive framed oil painting I really wanted since truthfully the thought about carting it home was somewhat frightening, but we did purchase a lovely color sketch of a beach scene at Castaway Cay. It’s around 18 x 20 inches and came mounted so all I needed to do once home was buy a frame for it at a local crafts store.
Professional artist sketch: $50
Framed art works: these ranged between $500-$1000
Canvas prints: around $300
Since the type of activity and cost vary significantly from port to port, here is a link to Disney’s website which details each activity as well as cost.
Just like other cruise lines, gratuities for the staff (restaurant server, restaurant assistant, head server, stateroom hostess) are suggested and are automatically added to your bill. For a 3 day cruise, it’s suggested to tip your restaurant server and stateroom hostess $4 a day per person (so, for a sailing party of 2 on a 3 day cruise, the stateroom hostess would receive $24 in tips from you).
NOTE: As mentioned above, an automatic 15 percent gratuity is added to bar, beverage, wine and deck service tabs.
Areas I cannot legitimately comment on since I have no experience with them:
PHOTOGRAPHY: Just like at the parks, there are photographers everywhere on the ship ready to take your “special picture” for you. They also have an elaborate system where you use your stateroom card to locate the book in the photography room containing all of the photographs that have been taken of you and your guests. No lie when I say this is probably the biggest killing that a Disney cruise makes. I was curious about one or two photos since I had bad luck with my camera on this trip but when I saw that an 8×10 photo cost $20…I believe they also offered packages but this wasn’t something I investigated nor was interested in. For the record I saw families getting a slew of photos to purchase.
When it comes to spending money, I don’t go “extreme” at all. Therefore, this post most likely did not cover some areas of a cruise that other people would be spend money on. But for the main ones, I think this should give you a good introduction to financially preparing to sail.