Before our first Disney Cruise Line experience on the Disney Fantasy last month, I asked all you wise readers for your best cruising tips. As promised, the best ones are now featured in a cruising tips video at Expedia.com, but now that we’re back, I want to expand upon one tip of my own: know what’s included in your cruise, and what you’ll pay more for.
What’s always included in a Disney Line Cruise:
1. All meals, from you embarkation lunch to your departure breakfast. Remember, there’s no additional charge for ordering extra appetizers or desserts, kids ordering off the adult menus, or room service! (Stay tuned on the latter, however: there are exceptions.)
2. Deck 11 fun. This includes all pools, water slides, splash play areas, miniature golf, basketball, hot tubs, shuffleboard, and ping-pong.
3. Fitness center: While spa treatments on a Disney cruise will set you back, the fitness center is included, and provides a nice environment for exercise, including stretching and yoga space. I really enjoyed running the treadmill in front of the bay of windows overlooking the sea.
4. Soda, coffee, iced tea, and water. An industry first, Disney Cruise Line offers unlimited soda refills in their drink station, as well as coffee, tea, and water. We didn’t feel the need to buy bottled water at all; just bring a refillable water bottle and keep it filled!
5. Castaway Cay. Disembarking and enjoying the beaches, trails, water slides, play areas, Scuttle’s Cove child care, and Cookies 2 BBQ is free at Castaway Cay. (There is a long list of things you’ll pay extra for, however. See below!)
6. Kids’ clubs. All kids’ clubs facilities, with the exception of It’s a Small World Nursery, are included in the cost of your cruise. This refers to: Oceaneer’s Club, Oceaneer’s Lab, Edge, and Vibe. All food and drink served in the clubs comes included as well, with the exception of the make-your-own smoothies bar in Vibe.
7. Onboard entertainment. All evening Broadway style shows, deck parties, poolside movies, and first-run movies in the onboard movie theater come included in the cost of your cruise. (Movie concession snacks, however, have a charge.)
What you’ll pay extra for:
1. Alcohol. As is customary in the cruise industry, you’ll pay for all alcohol on the ship. (This includes at dinner, where the rest of your meal is included.) I didn’t find the drink prices onboard to be unreasonable. In fact, for a quite cheap (under $7) and really good martini, try La Piazza in Europa!
2. Pre-packaged room service items, including bottled water. This is a tricky one. While all prepared room service food is free, pre-packages foods are not. And the room service menu will not indicate this. Look for the items that are designated at ‘snack packs’. Also beware of all drink packs, even the bottled water. If you want a snack, order the fruit and cheese plate for free instead!
3. The Arr-cade. And it’s not worth it! In fact, my kids, who love arcades, wondered aloud why Disney even bothered putting an arcade on the Fantasy, if it wasn’t going to be ‘great like all Disney things’. There are so many video game options in the kids’ clubs, there’s no need to pay to play in the arcade!
4. Sports simulators. For our sports-loving kids, these simulators, located on Goofy’s Sports Deck, were worth the up-charge, unlike the arcade. They had a lot of fun playing the games together; you can have as many people as you’d like join one session (within reason, I assume!), and kids can pick at will between hockey, baseball, basketball, and soccer. The charge is $12/half-hour. There’s also a golf simulator for more (I believe $45/hour), but it’s a complicated course, and intended for advanced golfers only.
5. Spa treatments. Spa treatments in the Senses Spa are heavenly (or so I heard…I didn’t take the plunge) but pricy. A more frugal option: buy a day pass, which will get you into the hot tubs, Rainforest room, and more.
6. Dining at Remy or Palo. The up-charge for the adult-only dining options on the Fantasy is downright reasonable (though you’ll be tempted to pair your meal with wine!). Making a reservation to eat at either one is a great way to treat yourself without breaking the bank!
7. Some activities on Castaway Cay. This would include bike rentals ($6/hour and totally worth it!), snorkel gear (we paid a total of $70/day for our family of four), boat rentals, including paddle boats, kayaks, and water bikes, and the stingray excursion ($35/adults, $30/kids…we were content to watch only). Remember to budget for any alcohol on Castaway Cay as well.
A few obvious (and maybe not-so-obvious) things to budget for:
While you’re considering the cost of a cruise, be sure to budget for the extras just about everyone will need to include: an excursion or two (depending on your cruise destination and length), souvenirs (hard to avoid the temptation!), and cruise tips. While a tip is automatically added to any drink orders you place on the ship, at the end of your cruise, you’ll be expected to (and should) provide a tip for your stateroom hosts and dinner servers. Disney will do it for you automatically if you’d prefer–just ask at Guest Services–or you can designate your own amount. I used this chart for cruise tipping amount, which is based on the length of your cruise and number in your party.
Not sure if a Disney cruise is the one for you? Other cruise lines offer family-friendly amenities. Learn more about cruises for the family.