If you’ve ever compared cruise prices, you’ve probably discovered Disney cruises tend to be on the pricier side of things.
DCL is a premium cruise line and their cruise prices include a few extras that you won’t find on other family-friendly cruise lines.
Here’s what you need to know about the cost of a Disney cruise if sticking to your budget is a priority.
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What’s Included in the Price of a Disney Cruise
Stateroom Accommodations – Disney cruise cabins are 20% larger than the other cruise line staterooms. They are outfitted with bathtubs (perfect for families with infants or toddlers), hair dryer, wave phones (wireless phone handsets that you can use to stay in touch with members of your family while on board and at Castaway Cay) and complimentary play yards upon request.
All Meals – Cruisers have several options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each of Disney’s ships has three dining rooms open daily for dinner (sometimes they will be open for breakfast and lunch too – it just depends on the day), a casual buffet as well as snack bars (pizza, sandwiches, wraps, soft-serve ice cream etc) on the pool deck.
Your embarkation lunch and disembarkation breakfast are also included. If you’re eating in the dining room, you can order as much or as little as you like – there is no charge for a second (or third, or fourth…) dessert!
24-Hour Room Service – Feel like a Mickey ice cream bar at midnight? Have it delivered to your room! DCL offers free 24-hour room service whereas you’ll have to pay for room service on other cruise lines.
There are only a few items on the room service menu that have a fee (for example alcoholic drinks) but 99% of the items are completely free. This is great for families who struggle in the morning like we do and have an early start time on port days. We eat breakfast in our room – sometimes still in our pajamas – instead of heading out to the buffet or dining room.
Non-Alcoholic Drinks – Disney cruise ships all have a drink station with water, milk, juice, soft drinks, coffee and tea on the lido deck (pool deck). Unlike other cruise lines, these non-alcoholic drinks are available around the clock.
You don’t have to wait until dinner time to get your drinks or pay for juice or bottled water outside of breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Nightly Entertainment – There are Broadway-style musicals and magic shows put on at the Walt Disney Theatre every night – one at 6:30 PM and one at 8:45 PM (they coincide with the two dining times) that families can enjoy before or after dinner.
Disney Movies – Every day you’ll find a variety of Disney, Star Wars or Marvel movies playing either in the Buena Vista Theater or near the pools. These movies range from recently released movies (including movie premieres) and classic Disney movies. Some movies will sometimes show in 3D as well.
Last year, we were on the Disney Fantasy the week Rogue One premiered in theaters. My husband is a die-hard Star Wars fan and was really excited when he found out the movie would be playing at midnight on the ship the same day as it hit theaters back home.
The crew planned many activities leading up to opening night. They had Star Wars merchandise (including cups and popcorn holders), characters coming out on stage before they played the movie as well as a marathon of older Star Wars movies – it was a blast.
Youth Clubs & Activities – All youth club facilities and activities are included in the cost of your Disney cruise. Oceaneer’s Club, Oceaneer’s Lab, Edge and Vibe run a variety of activities each day. Your kids can also choose to have lunch or dinner with their friends as all food and drinks (except for the smoothies bar in Vibe) are included in the kids’ clubs.
Disney Character Meet and Greets – There’s no shortage of character meet and greets on a Disney cruise. Princesses and the classic Disney characters all make an appearance on every Disney cruise and you might run into some Marvel Super Heroes or Star Wars characters too (depending on the itinerary).
You’ll see the character meet and greet schedules on your Personal Navigator (the daily schedule) and can take photos and collect autographs to your heart’s content. The lines are also MUCH shorter than at the Disney Parks too!
There are some character experiences that require tickets (this is the way they control the lineup and wait time) like the Princess Gathering, Mickey Character Breakfast, and Frozen Character Meet and Greet so make sure to pick up your tickets on embarkation day or book them online before your cruise. If you book them online, tickets will be in your room on embarkation day.
Special Events and Parties – Guests on Marvel Day at Sea, Stars Wars Day at Sea, Halloween on the High Seas and Very Merrytime cruises can expect several special events and celebrations during their DCL cruise. Trick or treating, dance parties, special character meet and greets, and tree lighting ceremonies are some of the unique experiences you’ll have if you’re on one of these holiday and special days at sea cruises.
Fitness Room (age 18 and up) – Access to the fitness center and equipment is included in the cost of your cruise. I was in the middle of training for a 5K race during our most recent cruise and liked that I was able to jump on a treadmill to continue my training. There are free fitness classes like yoga that cruisers can sign up for as well.
Pool and Sports Deck – There are multiple pools (including an adults-only one), water slides, splash pads, mini golf, basketball, shuffleboard, and ping pong tables on all four Disney ships.
Daily Onboard Activities – Live musical performances, animation workshops, trivia games, craft sessions, towel folding classes, baby races in the atrium and behind the scenes ship tours are just some of the free onboard activities you can enjoy while on a Disney cruise vacation
Deck Parties – The sail away party, Pirate Night Deck party and fireworks at sea are included on all Disney cruise itineraries – whether you’re in the Caribbean, Alaska or Europe.
Castaway Cay Activities and Buffet Lunch – For cruises that stop in Castaway Cay – Disney’s private island in the Bahamas – guests are treated complimentary BBQ lunch buffet, non-alcoholic drinks, soft-serve ice cream, and character meets on the beach. There’s a free yoga on the beach class as well as a free 5K run that you can sign up for (you’ll get a special Castaway Cay medal after you complete it).
Spend time exploring the trails, playing in the water play areas or just relaxing at the beach. There’s no cost if you require childcare (you’ll find them at Scuttle’s Cove) or if you need to use a wheelchair or wagon on the beach. They have large wheels that can handle the sandy terrain and are available on a first come first serve basis.
What’s Not Included in the Price of a Disney Cruise
Here’s a list of things that aren’t included in the cost of your DCL vacation. Keep in mind, you won’t have to pay for everything on this list as many of these items are optional.
Adult-Only Dining in Specialty Restaurants – Depending on the ship you’re on, you can reserve a brunch, lunch or dinner at Palo or Remy. Prices start at $30/person.
Alcoholic Beverages, Bottled Water & Non-Alcoholic Specialty Drinks – Many non-alcoholic drinks are complimentary and available at the drink station near the pools as well as all restaurants however, all drinks ordered from a water on deck (alcoholic or not) is not covered in the cost of your cruise.
If you’re ordering alcohol or specialty drinks at dinner, or drinks in any of the adult clubs, cafes or bars, expect to pay out of pocket for them. Drinks ordered at the bar or from a waiter on Castaway Cay are also extra.
Select Items on Room Service Menu – Most items on the Room Service menu are free of charge with the exception of prepackaged snack packs and drinks like bottled water. The price will be indicated on the menu.
It’s a Small World Nursery – There is a fee for child care at the nursery for babies and toddlers 6 to 35 months old – $9/hr for the first child and $8/hr for each additional child.
Select Adult Classes and Activities – There is a small fee for some onboard activities – wine tastings, bingo and cooking classes to name a few.
Select Kids Activities – The arcade, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and sports simulators are all extra and not included in your cruise cost.
WiFi – With the exception of the free Disney Cruise Line Navigator app (make sure you download it before you get on the ship) and the 50 MB of data you get on embarkation day, WiFi access is extra. Prices start at $19 for 100 MB.
Spa Treatments – All Senses Spa treatments are extra as well as access to the Rainforest Room which includes the sauna, heated lounge area and steam room.
Photos by DCL Photographers – There will be a ton of photo opps during your cruise and many of the pictures will be taken by Disney photographers. You can view them either in the folder at the Goofy Gallery or at one of the viewing screens. You can purchase them either in a photo package or individually or not at all (because all photographers will take photos for you with your camera after they get it on theirs).
Ground Transportation to the Embarkation/Disembarkation Port – Disney offers ground transfer service from the airport to the cruise port for $35/person however if you have a large family it is always cheaper to find your own way there – either with another shuttle transfer service, rental car or private transfer.
Tips and Gratuities – Tips for your stateroom host and dining staff (head server, main server, assistant server, dining room host) is not included in the cost of your cruise. Disney recommends $12/day per person in your travel group.
DCL will charge you automatically at the end of your cruise but you also have the option of tipping what you want – just head to Guest Services and request to change the amount.
Castaway Cay Drinks & Activities – Aside from the drink station at the buffet, all other drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic specialty drinks) will be out of pocket. Bike rentals, water equipment rentals (snorkeling masks, inner tube, water mat etc), boat and jet ski rentals, stingray and fishing excursions are all extra as well.
Snacks and Drinks Near the Theaters – Popcorn, candy, and drinks are available the movie and show theaters however you are free to grab a snack from Deck 9 and take it in with you for the show or movie.
So is a Disney cruise really worth it? There isn’t really a clear-cut answer to this question. It really depends on the type of travel your family enjoys and the experiences you want to have on a cruise vacation.
Of course, as with any cruise vacation (not just on DCL), there are a few other things to budget for including travel insurance, shore excursions, laundry and souvenirs. You can read our best money saving cruise tips in this post.
Looking for more information and Disney cruise tips? You can check them all out here.