As you probably know by now, I had an opportunity to experience my first Disney Cruise aboard the Disney Dream, courtesy of the nice folks at Disney. It was a really great experience, and it’s been fun sharing my experience with you both on Facebook Live and through articles.
Today I want to talk about what’s included in the cost of your Disney Cruise. A Disney Cruise is not all inclusive, but it’s mostly inclusive. It’s expensive, but also a pretty good value.
What is Included?
All of the Disney Cruise Line’s ships are exquisitely appointed with modern luxuries, and there are many things included in the cost of your cruise. In fact, you could not spend a dime onboard and be totally happy. Let’s take a look at what is included in your cruise price.
Each ship serves high-quality food at upscale restaurants part of a rotational dining plan. You’ll get to experience fine dining at no extra cost. Order as much as you want! I dined at both Animator’s Palate and Royal Palace, and both were excellent.
There are also a variety of quick-service locations serving snacks, soft drinks, and all-you-care-to-enjoy food and ice cream every day. That is all included in your cost. You can get 24-hour room service, which is also included.
The nightclubs and lounges all allow free admission, but any alcohol you enjoy is extra. Themed kids and teens clubs are also available and staffed by trained and experienced Disney counselors. That is included too. Don’t worry – your kids are safe!
Most entertainment is included as well. You’ll enjoy incredible Broadway quality musicals, deck parties, fireworks at sea, themed dance parties, trivia, mixers, karaoke, character meet and greets, Disney movies (some in 3D), and live music throughout the ship. All that is included.
All four of the ships provide spacious staterooms sized for families. There’s plenty of storage, a sitting area, and a split bath: one area with a toilet and a sink, and a separate area with a shower and a sink. This means more than one person can get ready at once. There are free toiletries in the room, and you can always get more from housekeeping. Each room also has a refrigerator, a hairdryer, and a TV with free movies. You’ll also enjoy free housekeeping twice a day (yes, twice) with turndown service at night. All of that is included.
Onboard, there are several freshwater pools, waterslides, wading pools, splash pools, and quiet pools for cruisers over 18 years of age. Thrill seekers can try out the AquaDuck or AquaDunk, and younger cruisers can enjoy splash pads specifically designed for those under three years of age. Other recreation includes a well-furnished fitness center, basketball court, virtual sports simulators, and miniature golf on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. All that is included.
Some Disney Cruises call at their own personal island, Castaway Cay. This not so little piece of paradise provides everything you need to have a great day on the island including beach chairs, umbrellas, beautiful beaches, hammocks, and beach towels. All that is included.
More adventurous visitors will find waterslides, hiking, yoga, and beach sports. There’s also an early morning 5k with a finisher medal.
If you just want to sit back and relax, Castaway Cay offers free soft drinks (alcohol is available at an extra cost), as much ice cream as you want, and free entertainment.
Everyone gets a buffet BBQ lunch, and you can use tram transportation to get around the island, which is actually pretty large.
What is not included?
You might be thinking, “It seems like a lot is included in the cruise cost, so what can I do that isn’t included?” I’m glad you asked because there are upsells available. However, like I said, you could forgo all of these and still have a blast.
Each cruise ship has a couple spas. Senses Spa and Salon offers massages, body wraps, facials, aromatherapy, manicures and pedicures, hairstyling, men’s grooming, and even teeth whitening – all for an extra cost. Chill Spa offers similar amenities and is designed for teens ages 13 to 17. There are even some special mother-and-daughter and father-and-son experiences.
All spas provide free non-alcoholic drinks, showers, lockers, sandals, robes, and changing rooms, but beauty products are extra.
You might be noticing a theme that all alcohol is extra. Disney is careful about their family-friendly image, even to the point that Magic Kingdom still limits alcohol to select restaurants. Alcohol is widely available on the ships, especially at pools and meals, all hard drinks are extra. You can also pay extra for tastings and mixology classes.
Disney Cruise Line also offers shore excursions. There are a variety of excursions available that vary based on the ports of call. Try the glacier floatplane tours, whale watching, horseback riding, lumberjack shows, wildlife excursions, and salmon bakes in Alaska. Check out the parks, landmarks, museums, gardens, and tastings in California. Visit castles, plazas, historic villages and cities in Europe. Experience snorkeling, parasailing, kayaking, zip-lining, scuba diving, and ruins tours in the warm waters of the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Mexico.
Back on board, there are several shops for some special souvenirs. You can purchase your own photography at Shutters and Disney artwork at the Vista Gallery. If you want to give your little princess the royal treatment, check out Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
Even though the rotational dining restaurants are included, there are a couple restaurants onboard that are extra.
Palo and Remy are very nice and very upscale with elaborate menus, delectable dishes, and a long list of wines with a sommelier available to help those who need some assistance in choosing a good pairing.
Palo on the Disney Fantasy also offers a Be Our Chef cooking class where you have the opportunity to cook alongside the expert chefs.
If I were going to pick an upsell, I would choose to dine at one of these restaurants. In fact, I tried out Palo, and the extra $30 was well worth it!
You can attend a Disney Cruise Line bingo session for free, but if you want your own bingo cards or an electronic bingo machine which gives you a chance to win cash prizes, you need to pay.
When your cruise is over, you’ll be asked to finalize your tips for your wait staff and housekeepers who stay with you throughout your cruise. While these tips are technically optional, it is appropriate to tip the amount suggested. These crew members depend on these tips for their livelihood, and they work very hard. You can always tip more if you had exceptional service. You can change your tip or not provide any tip if you had really bad service, but it’s highly unlikely that there would be a time where this would be appropriate.
As I mentioned above, you could have a wonderful, full vacation on a Disney Cruise and not spend an extra penny beyond what you paid in cruise fare. You could also spend hundreds for extras along the way. I’m not against the extras. Disney is very clear about them. They allow Disney to provide options for those who want them. Those who don’t will still have the time of their life.
Disney Cruise: Is enough included in the base price?