By Savvy Diva
Traveling on the Disney Cruise Line is fantastic, and so many great things are already included with your fare! There are, however, some additional expenses that you might not necessarily think about when you’re deciding your vacation.
Tipping & gratuities
It seems you can always find a debate about this subject, so I want to be clear that this article is written in my own opinion. Per DCL themselves: gratuities are always at your discretion. That said, here is what cruisers typically hand out in tips:
$4 per day, per guest for your stateroom host or hostess
$4 per day, per guest for your dining room server
$3 per day, per guest for your dining room assistant server
$1 per day, per guest for the dining room head server
You also have the choice of tipping your dining manager, and the Palo/Remy server if you choose to dine there. Using the amounts above, the total for a family of four on a four night sailing would be $192. That’s an expense to plan ahead about! To help with that, DCL will let you pre-pay gratuities up to three days in advance of your trip. If you do not pre-pay, the gratuities will be added to your onboard account and would be due at the end of your sailing. These can be changed at any time by calling or visiting guest services onboard.
Bar & Deck Service gratuities
If you order drinks please be aware that there is a 15% gratuity automatically added to your tab.
Room service is free, and awesome, and free. Did I mention it’s included? If you take advantage of this fantastic perk, it is common to tip the delivery person $1 to $5, depending on how much you ordered. I always bring a good stack of dollar bills for those late-night food cravings. If you order your room service breakfast in advance (there are door-hanger order forms in the desk) I recommend you leave the tip out somewhere easy to get, like on top of your nightstand or dresser, so you don’t scramble for it after the knock on your door suddenly wakes you up in the morning. Not that I would know or anything.
Adult Dining at Palo and Remy
Having brunch or dinner (or both) at these amazing restaurants does come with a price; $20 per person per meal. You can choose to add a gratuity as well.
Senses and Vista Spa & Salon
Spa and salon services are extra, and an 18% gratuity is automatically added to your bill. There are many services they offer with a very wide price range, and they are worth checking out.
Theatre Snacks & Drinks
Movie theatre-size snacks are available for purchase outside the theatre or through room service. You can also purchase drinks before your Broadway-style show.
Photos at Shutters
There will be professional photographers everywhere! Although buying prints is completely optional, most people come away with at least one incredible photo they just had to have. Prints start at $9.95 for one 6×8 photo and go up from there. Shutters offers many different photo packages you can buy that save you money per print, and they also offer a photo CD that will include all of your prints. I recommend purchasing your photo package the first day, because you can always customize it as you go.
DCL offers many excursion opportunities at all of their ports for an additional cost. Prices widely vary! If you receive excellent service from a guide or driver, it is customary to tip. How much is up to you, there is not a standard guideline.
Booking Your Next Cruise
I can almost guarantee that you will enjoy this sailing so much, that you won’t be able to wait to book your next trip! Disney is expecting that too, so they offer future sailing reservations while onboard. They sweeten the pot by offering a 10% discount, only requiring a half of the normal deposit, and throwing in an onboard credit for that next cruise. Remember, you can always change the date on your reservation, so take advantage of the discount!
You have to get to the actual DCL ship somehow, so don’t forget to add in your travel plans to the budget. Airline tickets, Disney’s Magical Express, car rental, gas money, snacks, etc.
Taxes & fees
These are included in your cruise quote and are taken care of when you pay in full, so no real worries here.
If you use the porters at the cruise terminal, tipping $1 to $2 per bag is customary. If you are using Disney’s Magical Express, you will not be using the porters upon arrival, but you may want to on the day you disembark.
The nursery and in-room babysitting are available for an additional cost and should be reserved in advance. These cast members do not expect a gratuity, nor do the cast members in the kid’s clubs.
Every ship has an arcade! A game card is required to play; the machines will not take cash. You can purchase a game card in $10, $15, or $20 amounts with your room key at guest services or at a kiosk in the arcade itself.
These gifts can be purchased in advance and they will be waiting in your room when you arrive! Gifts vary from flowers, wine, beer, sweets, cakes, cigars, celebration decorations, to holiday gifts.
Oh yes, you too can purchase a fine art piece from the Disney art gallery!
If you want to play Bingo, you’ll have to purchase game cards. Hooray for cash & prizes!
Adults can sign up for different tasting parties offered onboard for an additional charge.
Oh good golly gumdrops, there is neat stuff to buy everywhere! There are several shops on the ship and many places to shop at port and on Castaway Cay. Any DCL store can charge your room key for purchases. You can add cash to your room account through guest services or allow for it to be charged to the credit card on the room account. Guest Services can also block the room key charge feature for any member of your party.
Please do not be overwhelmed by this long list! You and your family can have an incredible cruise without spending much money onboard. Most of the things listed here are just icing on the cake. Budget, plan ahead, and have an amazing vacation!