Cruise Vacations Hidden Costs

Disney Dream

Image by blmiers2 via Flickr

When I booked our most recent cruise aboard the Disney Dream, I was so excited to be going on the cruise that I did not consider all that I should have to get the best picture of what the actual end cost of our cruise would be.

Use this list to help you better understand the extra costs of cruising that may otherwise not be considered when beginning the budgeting for your vacation:

1.  Transfers – I was astonished that the cost of getting over to Port Canaveral was not included in the cruise costs.  I had so often used Disney transportation to get from the airport to the Disney Resorts that I had assumed it would also be included for cruisers.  I was WRONG.  The cost of the transfer is $35 per person each way.  Yes, I said EACH way!  If you choose to park at the port, the cost is $15 per day.  Of course, this would also require that you have a vehicle.  There really is no cheap way to get to port unless you know a friend willing to drive you to port or find a better price by way of taxi.

2.  Drinks – Onboard the Disney Cruise Lines, sodas, teas and coffees are included.  However, if you want to drink alcoholic beverages, separate fees apply.  With costs of these drinks starting at around $7, the expense can really be expensive.  Alcohol can be brought onboard to save money on the cost of your favorite beverages.  According to Disney Cruise Line, the policy is as follows:

Alcohol is permitted on board. However, be aware that any fragile items (including bottled alcohol) must be hand-carried on board in a day bag and/or carry-on bag, the dimensions of which cannot exceed 22″ wide, 14″ high and 9″ deep. Alcohol brought on board may not be consumed in any lounge or public area. Guests who arrive in the dining room with a bottle of champagne or wine that has been brought on board will be charged a corking fee of $20.00 per bottle.

3.  Souvenirs – Onboard the Disney Cruise are many shops.  These shops have prices that are a bit higher than those found in the Walt Disney World gift shops.  Children’s t-shirts start at a price of $25 – $30.  Avoid the shops or look at the clearance items only if looking to save money in this category.  When I was aboard the Disney Dream, we decided not to purchase many souvenirs.  We instead kept a few of the free souvenirs given while aboard, such as our pirates bandana.

4.  Spa – The spa is very pricey!  The cost of a massage was well over $100 for 60 minutes aboard the Dream.  Locally, a spa offers 60 minute massages for only $50.  If you would like to experience the spa onboard, look for discounts on these services on days when at Port.  Often discounts are applied to specific services offered.

5.  Excursions – The cost of excursions can range from inexpensive (under $20 per person) to expensive (over $200 per person).  These are at your own discretion and are absolutely not necessary.  The Ports of Call attended by the Disney Dream offered plenty of entertainment without the additional cost.  In Nassau, my family walked around taking in the shops and stopping in for an ice cream cone before heading back to the Dream.  Once back aboard the Dream, we found lunch (at no extra charge) and a pretty empty pool area!  At Castaway, we found PLENTY to do from water slides, lunching, sunning, sand castle building and snorkeling.  We easily were able to fill our entire day, reboarding the dream exhausted from all of the fun!

6.  Entertainment – Onboard you will find many extra entertainments that come at a price.  For example, you can take in classes at the Fitness Center which cost a fee.  Unless you are really looking forward to a particular at-cost entertainment, there is no need in spending the extra money.  There is plenty to do to fill the time with scheduled and non-scheduled free entertainment.

7.  Tipping – The big one that is often not considered.  The cost of tipping can be pretty expensive when accumulated over the course of the vacation at roughly $50 per person for a 4 night cruise.  In addition to these tips, a 15% tip is automatically added to all alcoholic beverages.  These expenses should definitely be considered when budgeting the cruise!

With this in mind, you can see how a Disney Cruise can go from $500 per person for an inside state room (that was roughly the cost of our stateroom per person) to $620 per person ($500 for the room + $70 for transfers to WDW + $50 for tipping).  Therefore, the total cost of our vacation for the three people in our family went up by an additional $360 over the price of what I had expected to pay.

Know of additional Cruise Costs we have not mentioned?  Come and let us know on our Facbook page.

14 comments for “Cruise Vacations Hidden Costs

  1. Lynn
    May 10, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Thanks for this great information!! Hubby wants to cruise so badly and I’m thinking about giving it a shot next year and will need to look into all these charges.

    • May 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm

      You should become a seasonal cast member to get the discounts since you are able to get down to Disney more often than most… just a random idea!

  2. Mel
    May 10, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Great tip about enjoying a spa treatment while in port. Might be the best way to pamper myself before the ship even departs.

    • May 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm

      Thanks! The Spa was really quite beautiful! I didn’t get any treatments though. My husband did and really loved it. (I ran instead… I think I may be crazy!)

  3. May 12, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks Natalie, great post! My two cents….Tipping is so important, the cast members’ base salary is not very much. They make almost all of their money on our tips. On our cruise, all of the cast members assigned to us became like long time friends by the end of the cruise. We tipped almost twice the recomended amounts, mostly because they made our trip even more special.

  4. June 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    What do you think about pre-paying for tips? When I did the preview cruise, our tips were included. It was a nice option and I think I might do it for our cruise in January.

    • June 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      I personally would not want to pre-pay. I understand that this allows you to get the trip paid for before hand, with no need to have to worry about it. However, if you prepay for the tips, you have to come up with the cash before the vacation. As such, you do not have as much time to save the monies.

  5. MrHappy
    July 13, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Another thing people don’t realize is that even soda that is brought to you is charged. Also the popcorn outside the theater is charged. You can go to the ice cream shop and get an ice cream and bring it down to get free food during the show. Also any bottled water.

    Just a few more that people might not think about.

    • July 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      You are so right! We tried to avoid those things when we went…

      • Sharon
        August 5, 2012 at 6:12 am

        You can bring pop but not the ice cream into the big Walt Disney theater.

  6. Dayna
    July 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I am trying to get updated information on a Disney Cruise. We are planning on Fantasy and next Sep-Oct, when most kids go back to school. My son is 18 and severly autistic, he drinks soda mixed with water and that’s all (allergic to milk). Are the non alcoholic drinks (we don’t drink)n free on the cruise or only at certain areas?

    • July 19, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      The soda drinks ARE free onboard and easily found all over the cruise ship! Drink them up!

      • Sharon
        August 5, 2012 at 6:14 am

        Sodas obtained from “bar areas” are a charged item…the beverage station on the top deck and sodas in the dining areas are “free”.

  7. Debi
    December 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing all of this. I would love to take my family of 5 on a Disney cruise, but when it comes to costs, I like to have an idea of all that would be involved. This definitely helps us take everything in to account!

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