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Pro Tips – 10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For on a Disney Cruise

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10 things you shouldn't pay for on a Disney Cruise

How about a blog post on saving money?  Everyone likes to save money right?  I mean, you’ve spent a lot of money on your Disney cruise, do you need to spend a lot more onboard?  You don’t!  I always say once you are onboard, assuming you’ve prepaid your gratuities, you don’t have to spend another penny to have a great time.  You could spend another penny!  You could spend a lot of pennies in fact, see my post on plussing your Disney cruise for examples of how.  But you don’t have to!  So here are 10 things you can skip.

1. Soda/Coke/Pop – Don’t pay for soda! Don’t you know that Disney is just about the only line out there with free soda, day and night? Well it is!  There is always free soda in the drink machines on the pool deck, and in all of the dining rooms.  I just spent $70 for a week’s worth of unlimited soda on Royal Caribbean and it pained me greatly!  So don’t buy it anywhere!  That’s just silly.  Not from a bar, not outside the movie theater, not from room service.  Don’t do it.  Wouldn’t be prudent.

2. Room Service – Let’s be clear, the vast majority of room service is 100% free. There are some packaged snacks like M&M’s, nuts and popcorn that will cost a few dollars. There are also some soda (see number 1) and alcohol options that cost money.  But why?  Why would you spend money on food from room service when there are great free options right there!  Good free options!  Cheese platter, buffalo wings, French fries, steak sandwich, cake of the day!  Mickey bars!  You really don’t ever need to leave your room if you think about it. Don’t forget to tip the person that brings it to you though!

3. Theater Food – There are even more packaged snacks and canned soda outside the theaters. There’s no reason to get that! There’s free food all over the ship, people.  If you can’t make it a few days without M&M’s then bring a six pack with you.  It will probably be about the same price as one pack onboard.  The one exception here may be hot fresh popcorn.  Because popcorn.  But at least get the refillable souvenir bucket so you can get cheap refills at every show!

4. Vanellope’s – This is another case of – there is free ice cream all over, don’t pay for ice cream!! I will say, however, that Vanellope’s on the Disney Dream is pretty darn yummy and I do understand the pull to spend money in there. But if you are trying to cut back, this is somewhere you absolutely do not need to spend money on!  Free ice cream!  Soft serve on the pool deck, hard ice cream in the main dining rooms and Cabanas, and Mickey bars in the main dining rooms and from room service.  There is no shortage of free ice cream onboard.  Thank the Heavens!

5. Photos – Photos onboard are expensive. Very, very expensive in fact. Photo opportunities do abound on a Disney cruise, so bring your own camera!  Or phone!  Disney has photographers positioned all over the atrium in the evenings, and they’ll be on some excursions, on Castaway Cay, and in the dining rooms, and they do a good job.  Not to mention they have all the proper lighting set up, which helps.  You may be tempted to pay $20 for a single picture of your family decked out in your finery, but you really don’t need to!  You can take your own pictures in the exact same places!  The official photographers are not allowed to use your camera, but the character handlers can, as can other cast members, and if all else fails, the dude in line behind you.  Been there, done that.

6. Water – Not surprisingly, Disney has some expensive bottled water packages onboard. Disney also has completely free tap water onboard. All over.  And if for some reason you can’t live without your Evian, bring your own.  You’ll save a ton!

7. Internet – While we hear Disney’s internet is being upgraded and going to be much more affordable and accessible in the future, right now it’s just expensive. Take my tips from a previous blog post on locking down your phone and either limit yourself to that free 50mb, or just disconnect entirely. Disconnecting from the real world for a few days.  Doesn’t it sound glorious?

8. Alcohol – I realize this is an easy one for me to suggest seeing as how I don’t drink, but not buying alcohol onboard is an easy way to save some serious dough! Have you seen the prices of alcohol? Good grief!  No wonder I don’t drink!  I can just about pay for my cabana with what some people spend on alcohol in a week!  If you must indulge, bring your own.  While Disney has limited the amount of alcohol that can be brought onboard, they still have a fairly generous policy.  Each guest over 18 can bring two bottles of wine or 6 bottles of beer at EACH port.  That’s a lot of alcohol, my friends.  And, there are a few opportunities to get free drinks once onboard:  the Captain’s Reception, the DVC receptions, and the Platinum/Gold Castaway Club Reception (if you qualify) come to mind.

9. Sports Simulators – The sports simulators onboard the Dream and Fantasy are fun, but a completely unnecessary cost. Just skip them! Your kids probably won’t even notice they’re there.  Sometimes, on the first day onboard the Fantasy, you can even try them for a little while at no cost.  Get it out of your system then and use that money you would have spent on something else!

10. Bar Food – After the Dream dry dock last year, Disney added some upcharge bar food to 687. This is a trend that certainly could continue, but let me assure you, there is no reason to pay for food in the bars. Remember.  Free.  Food.  All.  Over.  And while those Wagyu sliders seem to have been made specifically for me, I just can’t justify them.  Or find myself ever lacking for food and being hungry onboard for that matter.

Is there anything you’d recommend not spending money onboard?  Let us know!

Tammy Whiting is the owner of Storybook Destinations. Did you know Storybook Destinations offers a complimentary subscription to TouringPlans with qualified Disney and Universal bookings? Click here for a no-obligation quote on your next vacation

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Tammy Whiting

Tammy has been a lover of all things Disney for most of her life. There’s nowhere on this Earth she’d rather be than on a Disney cruise with her family. She’s a Space Force wife and proud mom of two wonderful children and one beautiful daughter-in-law . She fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2008 and became a travel agent specializing in Disney vacations. She now owns her own travel agency - Storybook Destinations. You can reach Tammy at Tammy@StorybookDestinations.com.

13 thoughts on “Pro Tips – 10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For on a Disney Cruise

  • Great tips Tammy! Agreed DW and I don’t think #dcl alcohol prices are that high. Been on #celebrity as well and don’t feel they are unreasonable either. #allaboutsmartspending

  • Great tips on this – I personally also don’t mind the alcohol prices, but I rarely have more than one a day anyway 🙂 An add-on about the soda station – you’re supposed to use only their little 6 or 8 ounce cups that are provided at the station – but I try to remember to bring one of my own insulated mugs along – I’ve never seen a rule against dumping from their cups into my large mug and filling it up!

    • That’s exactly how they like you to do it, Rich! Use their cups to pour into your own as opposed to using your own repeatedly at the drink stations.

  • Regarding the Internet, do you know when they will change it or is nothing official yet?

  • One caveat on the photos – if the official photographer gets a perfect moment in their shot, it may be well worth the price of a single photo purchase if you couldn’t or didn’t get it on your phone/camera. Thankfully, almost everyone uses digital photography these days, so you can know almost instantly if any of your pictures are good enough, or if it’s worth it to spend the extra money on a memorable moment.

    • I agree, Kevin! We have never bought the package, but we have splurged on one or two photos.

  • Drink of the Day is so cheap because they only have nasty neon stuff and weak pours. If you really want to save money in the long run, sign up for a few tastings. You get to try 5 or 6 legitimately nice whiskies or cognacs or whatever for not much more than the cost a shot of one of them would be. And you might learn some interesting stuff about their history, too, if you get a great cast member. We got the head bartender at Meridian on the Dream, and he was a blast.

  • I agree with most of this, but I do find that the alcohol is reasonably priced, especially for Disney (where almost nothing is cheap). At $4.95 for the drink of the day including tip, really can’t beat that. Although I am not one to pay extra for things when I don’t have to, I love that you can order special sundaes at Vanellope’s and have them delivered to the main dining room after dinner for an extra special treat (would be great for a birthday celebration). Pictures are very expensive, but their lighting is much better than I can get on my own camera. Really wish they would get rid of Shutters and somehow incorporate Memory Maker on the cruises. A much better product!

    • I am actually on a Royal Caribbean cruise right now, and my friend who is with me has said that Disney’s alcohol prices are much better!

      I do love the Vanellope’s delivery option as well. 🙂


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