You have finally booked that Disney Cruise you’ve always wanted to take, yippee! It’s no secret that Disney Cruise Line wins travel industry awards year after year for the experience, service and overall spectacular nature of each sailing, so to say it’s worth the cost is a fair statement. While the cruise is essentially “all inclusive” and what you get for your money is outstanding, there are some additional costs that you really do need to budget for, be aware of before setting sail and/or take proper precautions to avoid-so that bill at the end doesn’t make you want to jump ship. We’ve put together this little list to help you prevent Disembark Sticker Shock!
1. Cell phone data charges: Connect@Sea offers data packages but is extremely expensive and has limits. If you are not careful, you can rack up hundreds of dollars in overage charges in a very short time. Most of us these days use our phones for everything, including for photos and videos. The best way to avoid an overage on your data plan, is to put your cellular phones on airplane mode and keep them there. You will still be able to join the on-board wi-fi and connect with the Disney Onboard Navigator App to stay up-to-date on the days’ events and chat with members of your traveling party. While at port, seek out an establishment with free wi-fi like Starbucks or an internet cafe to log in and update your social media, send emails or take care of business. You are on vacation, just “unplug” if at all possible.
2. Alcoholic Beverages: If you enjoy adult beverages, you’ll want to pay attention here. Any type of alcoholic drink is quite expensive on board a Disney Cruise Ship. They do offer a few beverage packages, but the cost is still fairly hefty. Everything can be charged to your stateroom for convenience, but it is a pretty scary bill at the end of your vacation. However, Disney allows you to BYO on board! Effective for cruises embarking on or after September 30, 2015, Disney Cruise Line Guests 21 years and older may bring a maximum of 2 bottles of unopened wine or champagne (no larger than 750 ml) or 6 beers (no larger than 12 ounces) on board at the beginning of the voyage and at each port-of-call. They must be packed in carry-on luggage and not in checked baggage. There are some other stipulations on this policy which you can read here.
3. Gratuities: During the course of your cruise, you will have several staff members servicing your needs daily. Gratuities, while at your discretion, are customary. Your four main staff who will be with you the entire length of your trip are the Dining Room Server, Assistant Dining Room Server, Head Dining Room Server and your Stateroom Host/Hostess. You can choose to pre-pay gratuities for your party up to three days before your vacation begins by contacting Disney Cruise Line; or, for the convenience of Guests who have not pre-paid, suggested gratuity amounts will be added to your onboard account, based on the length of your voyage. You can adjust the suggested amounts by lowering or elevating the amounts by visiting guest services any time during your sailing. While all other services; room service, port adventures, babysitting, etc are at your complete discretion. These gratuities add up quickly. The suggested amount for a family of four during a 7 night cruise is $336 just for your four main staff members. Add in a few tips at the bar, room service, port adventures and you have yourself a sizable amount. Don’t forget to budget in gratuities!
4. Excursions and Port Adventures: While there is plenty to do and keep you occupied on board, while at port, Disney offers a slew of organized adventures you can partake in at an additional cost. Some are quite reasonable, while others are not. The cost is relative to the experience. Port Adventures and Excursions are completely optional and you are free to roam about as you please without a guide. However, if you do book one, be advised that not only will you incur the cost of the adventure, but gratuities are customary for guides as well.
5. Souvenir Photographs: Much like PhotoPass at the Disney Parks, there are professional photographers on board Disney cruises taking amazing photos for you. While they will also take pictures with your camera, it seems to often be the case that Disney pictures come out so much better. You will pay for them though! While a single 8×10 will cost you over $20, there are several packages you can purchase ranging from the lowest at $149 for 10 prints OR downloads to the highest at $449 for unlimited prints AND downloads. If you love photos, be sure to budget this in.
Do you have any other budget tips for first time cruisers?