Why is Disney Cruise Line so expensive?

Why is Disney Cruise Line so expensive?

–written by Molly Schroader (Edwardsville, IL) one of our experts in Disney Vacation planning

I will go ahead and say it; Disney Cruise Line is not always the cheapest option when you are looking at cruises.   Why should you make a reservation for Disney Cruise Line then? Easy, it is one of the things I think Disney does best: quality versus quantity.

There are certain fees and extras that most cruise lines have and you should plan for in your vacation budget.  Tips and gratuities, excursions and some beverages are extra.  Premium restaurants also have a surcharge.  What is the difference then between Disney and other cruise lines in regards to extras?


On Disney Cruise Line, tea, lemonade, juice, milk, coffee and tap water are included in your meals, as is fountain soda in the dining rooms.  There is a beverage station located by the pools that is free and open 24/7.  The beverage station includes soda, coffee, tea etc. The only time you are charged for soda is if you order one from room service, from a bar or lounge, or from an attendant around the pool.  Tip- Before going to see a movie in the Buena Vista Theater or any of the shows, head up to the beverage station for your soda instead of buying one at the bar right next to the theater.  Other cruise lines charge for soda in their dining room; tea, lemonade, and water are complimentary. They do offer a soda card for purchase.  As of September 2012, Royal Caribbean’s unlimited soda card was $4.50 per person per day for those 17 and under, and $6.50 per person per day for all 18 and over, and purchase is limited to the first day on ship.

Disney, along with other cruise lines, offers beer, wine and water packages for the duration of the cruise.  However, Disney allows their guests to carry-on any beverages including water, soda (if you drink anything other than what is offered onboard), beer, wine and hard alcohol. It must be carried on in a soft-sided bag with no ice.  Tip- If you drive to the port or have a car service, drop by the Publix in Cocoa Beach for supplies. In Florida, hard alcohol has to be purchased at a liquor store. Publix has a liquor store right next to their grocery store in Cocoa Beach.  Also, Brevard County, where Port Canaveral/Cocoa Beach is located, does not allow alcohol sales until 1:00pm on Sunday.


There are three main dining rooms that you will rotate through on your voyage.  Animator’s Palate(all), Parrot Cay on the Magic and Wonder, Enchanted Garden on Dream and Fantasy, Lumiere’s/Triton on Magic/ Wonder, and Royal Court/Palace on Dream and Fantasy.  These dining rooms along with the buffet, food stations and soft serve ice cream station on the upper decks, and most items on room service are all included in your fare.   This also includes the dessert buffet on Pirate Night and the snack stations located near the bar and lounges at night. Disney offers one premium restaurant, Palo, on the Magic and Wonder; and two premium restaurants, Palo and Remy, on the Dream and Fantasy.  All of these require premium restaurants require a reservations.  Palo has a $20 surcharge for dinner, and Remy has a $75 surcharge.  No other restaurants have a surcharge.  With the other great, main dining rooms, there is no reason the average Disney family cruiser needs to feel they must pay for a premium restaurant.


Disney entertainment is first class!  From the nightly theater shows, to the more intimate settings of the talent shows and family dance parties, Disney has something for everyone.   Many cruise lines require you to sign up for shows and acts ahead of time, disappointing many cruisers when they are sold out even before boarding their ship for vacation.  Disney, however makes sure that the shows are available to everyone who wants to attend.  No worrying about your child not getting to see the princesses or the magician perform.  Not only will they get to see the entertainer, many times they will get to participate in a smaller group and get firsthand experiences with their favorite performer.  One of the big highlights of a Disney Cruise is Pirate Night!  Dancing at the Pirate Dance Pirate and viewing fireworks at sea when Mickey saves the day is exciting for everyone!  You can book a Disney cruise assured of getting a full experience and more value for your vacation dollar.

Pool Towels-

On Disney Cruise Line, towels are available in cabinets on the upper decks; you may help yourself to as many as you need.  After you are done with them, you return them to any of the towel return bins. On other cruise lines, you must check them out at the towel desk.  If you do not return a towel, a fee of $25 will be charged to your account (Royal Caribbean as of September 2012).  When you are free to grab towels on Disney Cruise Line it is especially nice when little ones need to be wrapped up in two towels, or your older children want to practice making the towel animals they leave for you in your stateroom.

Castaway Cay, Disney’s Private Island-

One of the highlights of the Bahamas/Caribbean cruises is Disney’s own private island, Castaway Cay.  The ships dock directly at Castaway Cay, so no tendering is needed and you may come and go all day.  Lunch is provided at Cookies BBQ, with a soda station and soft serve ice cream also provided. There are plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas to go around, so a fun day in the surf and sun is relaxing.  Pelican Plunge is a newer addition to Castaway Cay. Pelican Plunge features 2 water slides, a bucket dump and other water features as part of the fun.  Pelican Plunge is included in your cruise fare. Other cruise lines have their water slides as part of an excursion, and can cost up to $20 per hour.

Disney’s snorkeling lagoon is another way to spend part of your day on Castaway Cay.  Don’t forget to look for Mickey! You may rent snorkeling equipment for use all day. This includes mask, snorkel, fins and safety vest.  You may also bring your own equipment and snorkel as much as you like.  Safety vests are required and are complimentary if you bring your own equipment.  Other cruise lines do charge to use safety vests if you bring your own equipment.  Disney Cruise Line might initially look more expensive, but taking a close look at the extras that are included and you might find they are closer in price than you thought.  The attention to detail and extra care taken to provide your family an outstanding vacation experience is worth every penny with Disney!

Contact us at Wish Upon a Star With Us, to find out more about Disney Cruise Line!  We have been on all four ships, numerous times, and can help you with stateroom choices, travel dates and other details to help enhance your cruise.  We love to add that extra “pixie dust” to your family’s cruise, and best of all, our planning services are free!