Learn What Is Not Included On A Disney Cruise

There are a lot of things included on a Disney cruise that are not included on other cruise lines, like sodas for example. However, Disney cruises also have some experiences, activities or food and beverage options for an additional charge onboard. It can be hard to determine in advance what is and is not included on a Disney cruise. I will help to answer those questions and summarize what is not included on a Disney cruise in this post.

Some examples of what is not included on a Disney cruise are port adventures, specialty dining, alcoholic beverages, spa services, nursery for children under 3. The Disney cruise base fare you confirm for your cruise strictly includes the accommodations, meals onboard in the buffet and dining rooms, and entertainment. Any extra items outside of this standard cruise fare are an additional charge.

While the majority of the items listed below for an extra charge are optional, I do still recommended adding some of them. Port adventures and specialty dining especially can really enhance a cruise reservation. Nursery reservations or an appointment at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique may be really valuable to you and your family. I have researched and compiled all of the information you need to know about these upcharges below.

When These Upgrades Or Add-Ons Are Booked And Charged:

The following is a list of things that are not included on a Disney cruise. Some of these things are able to be booked and paid for in advance of your departure. Other things are added and paid for when you are on the cruise.

Things That Are Booked And Paid For In Advance:

  • Port adventures
  • Specialty adult dining at Palo and/or Remy
  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Pirate’s League
  • Professional photography sessions
  • Nursery services
  • Gratuites (though you could choose to pay on the cruise instead)
  • Spa and salon services
  • Extra onboard experiences – like the sports simulators or Royal Tea with princesses
  • Transportation to/from the pier

All of these things can, and should, be booked well before you set sail on your cruise. Use this chart to determine when you can make these reservations:

Booking window requirements for all levels of Disney Cruise Line guests.

I have also written a separate article that reviews the 8 things you need to do after confirming your Disney cruise that expands on booking some of these reservations further. If you are nearing the booking window above (or past it!) I recommend checking out that article too so you can make sure you are keeping up with all of the reservations you should make in advance.

Things That Are Paid For On The Cruise:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Specialty coffees
  • Certain specialty food items like Vanellope’s Sweets or Dole Whip floats
  • Theater concessions
  • Shutters photos: professional photos taken throughout the cruise

Port Adventures Are Not Included On A Disney Cruise, But Are Highly Recommended

If you are only going to do one of the optional things on this list, I recommend that you make it port adventures. If you have sailed before on another cruise line you might also know port adventures as shore excursions.

Take it from someone who has done both: booked port adventures through the cruise line, and also just winged it on my own. It is a much more relaxing and convenient vacation if you pre-book your part adventures with the cruise line. In addition, it also ensures that you won’t spend your entire time in port walking around aimlessly through the shops at the pier. While you can book port adventures onboard the cruise if available, I strongly recommend booking your port adventures as soon as you can.

One exception to this logic about port adventures is Castaway Cay. There are plenty of options on Castaway Cay to entertain yourself without a port adventure. But then again, there are also plenty of options that are worth the add-on in Castaway Cay too like bike rentals, or spa services on the beach!

Palo is a specialty dining restaurant for adults only that is available on all ships for an extra charge.
“Palo” by Kirsi L-M is licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Specialty Adult Dining, While Not Included, Is Definitely Worth It

It is possible to eat for the entirety of your Disney cruise without paying anything additional onboard. However, I think you would be doing yourself a disservice if you do not book a specialty dining experience. Specialty dining is for adults only, and is available on all of the Disney cruise ships.

The two specialty restaurant options are Palo or Remy. Palo is on all of the ships, and Remy is only on the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy. Either Palo or Remy (or both!) are great options for a special meal for adults onboard. The food and service is out of this world incredible and I highly recommend you do not miss it.

Dining At Palo

Cost:

  • Dinner or Brunch: $40.00 Per person cover charge + Gratuity
  • Wine Pairing with Dinner: $59.00 charge per person additional to the $40.00 cover charge, so $99.00 per person + Gratuity
    • Features 5 wine pairings matched with 5 recommended Palo dishes

Dress Code Enforced; Reservations Required

Palo Dinner:

Palo is named after the long poles that gondoliers use to control their gondolas in Venice. As such it’s cuisine is also inspired by Northern Italy. The meal starts with bread service, of course, and includes a variety of breads. Among them is the famous “pizza bread” which is kind of like a warm pita bread with italian seasonings and olive oil.

Next they prepare fresh antipasti tableside. When I was there it included marinated mushrooms and peppers, artichokes, prosciutto and other italian charcuterie. The best part of the antipasti though, in my opinion, was the parmesan drizzled with aged balsamic. After the bread service and the tableside antipasti, I knew we were in for a treat.

Next came the appetizers and the main courses. Palo is still like the main dining rooms onboard and you are allowed to order an extra entree. However, be careful because the food is so good they may need to roll you out of the restaurant. Your server is very passionate about your enjoyment of the meal. So they will also ask what your preferences are and will make recommendations accordingly.

Lastly, at Palo dinner, do not forget to try the souffle for dessert. Palo dessert souffle is probably the most well known dish from the restaurant among disney fans. There are two versions, either chocolate or amaretto souffles. Either are equally blissful and an amazing end to the whole experience at Palo. It really is an experience not to be missed!

The chocolate souffle at Palo is a famous dessert specialty you can experience for an extra charge onboard Disney Cruise Line.
“Chocolate Souffle – Palo” by Inside The Magic is licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Palo Brunch:

Palo brunch is not offered on all itineraries, though it is on the majority. Disney’s website says it is offered while the ship is at sea on four night or longer sailings. However, I have seen it offered on a 2 night Disney Wonder sailing I was on in Baja Mexico. So if you are wanting to try brunch, check anyways as soon as your booking window opens.

Palo brunch also features the Northern Italian cuisine and classic breakfast or brunch offerings. Brunch at Palo is unique to dinner as well because it features a buffet portion as well as an entree from the menu per person. The brunch buffet features tons of unique and classic items like italian charcuterie and cheeses, deviled eggs, pastries, seafood, and of course, mimosas and champagne.

In addition to the buffet you are also offered one entree selection per person. These offerings include eggs benedict, Mickey waffles, pizza, seafood, and other Italian staples. Buffet and menu options will vary though depending on season and availability. Brunch at Palo is a great option for those looking for a special at-sea brunch experience with amazing food. It definitely beats another trip to Cabanas!

Remy

Cost:

  • Dinner: $125.00 Per person cover charge + Gratuity
    • Add $105.00 per person for wine pairings
  • Champagne Brunch: $75.00 per person + Gratuity
    • Add $30.00 per person for champagne pairings
  • Dessert Experience: $60.00 per person + Gratuity
    • Add $25.00 per person for wine pairings
  • Petites Assiettes de Remy: $50.00 per person
    • Includes wine pairing with each course
    • Can only be booked onboard

Dress Code Enforced; Reservations Required

Remy Dinner

So while Palo is definitely an amazing experience with high quality food, Remy takes it even further over the top. Remy is the ultimate fine dining experience for adults that is exclusively only on two Disney cruise ships: Disney Fantasy, and Disney Dream. Remy primarily serves fine French inspired fare (as you may have guessed from its name inspired by Disney’s Ratatouille).

Dining selections at Remy are crafted by Chef Scott Hunnel from Victoria and Albert’s at the Grand Floridian, and Chef Arnaud Lallement who is a three Michelin starred chef from France. The menu is always changing to incorporate whatever is in season or is the most fresh. The vast experience and high quality of the chefs and ingredients shine through with every dish.

Dining at Remy for dinner starts with a complimentary “Collette” which is a chilled Champagne cocktail prepared tableside. You will be transported to France during your meal with the opportunity to dine on delicacies like langoustine, elk, duck, or Kobe beef.  

Wine pairings can also be added at an additional charge. Remy even goes so far as offering guests with a reservation the chance to meet with the sommelier onboard before dining. This pre-dinner service allows you to select your wines in advance of dinner and tailor the selections to your personal preferences.

Other Remy Dining Events:

In addition to (or in place of) dinner, you could also choose to experience one of the specialty dining events at Remy. These dining events offer an overview of the Remy experience at a lower price. Or if you’ve already experienced dinner at Remy, they offer something different to try. Disney’s website again says that they are only offered on days at sea on sailings 4 nights or longer. Always double check though if your sailing doesn’t meet those requirements – maybe you’ll get lucky.

The champagne brunch is a prix fixe meal featuring champagne at brunch time in addition to entrees like lobster cannelloni or vegetable risotto. The dessert experience is a five course dessert menu served with coffee. The dessert experience also features a conversation with the Pastry Chef and Executive Chef of Remy explaining the history of each offering.

Lastly, the Petites Assiettes de Remy experience features a tour of Remy and small plates served with wine pairings. This event is hosted by the Executive Chef and the Sommelier of Remy. It usually only happens once per cruise on the evening of the first night onboard. The most special part of the experience is the finale, concluding with dessert at the private Chef’s Table.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a special upgraded experience to transform into a princess, prince, captain, or pirate!
“Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique – Disney Fantasy” by Inside The Magic is licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique And Pirate’s League Are Not Included On The Cruise, Just Like On Land

Yes, just like on land, princess makeovers are an additional cost not included in the cruise fare. In addition to princess makeovers, onboard Disney cruises you can also get a pirate or captain makeover as well. On special cruises like the Star Wars Day At Sea cruises, you could also get a Star Wars makeover. And these makeovers don’t have to be just for the kids – adults can join too for some of the options.

Princes range from as low as $45.00 for a pirate makeover up to over $450.00 for a specialty princess makeover. I have included a list of the current options below. However, pricing and options available are always subject to change. So make sure to check your My Disney Cruise account online to make a reservation and check availability.

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and The Pirates League are open from 9am – 9pm daily onboard each ship. Appointments can be scheduled from 5pm – 9pm on the first day of the cruise, and anytime from 9am-  9pm on any other cruise day. However, on Pirate Night appointments may only be scheduled until 8:30pm.

Appointments are first-come, first served and space is very limited. I highly recommend booking online in advance as soon as possible. Make sure to reference the booking window chart at the beginning of the article to determine exactly when you can book. I also recommend thinking about the makeover package that you will choose in advance as well. You can view all of the options on Disney’s Cruise Line website at this link.

Alcoholic Beverages Are Not Included On Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line is definitely king in terms of family cruise lines. As such, alcoholic beverages are not included on a Disney cruise, though this is typical of almost all cruise lines. However, just because Disney is a family cruise line does not mean you can’t enjoy an adult beverage.

You can either purchase drinks one by one from the bars onboard. Or you can order a drink package in advance. Drink packages on Disney Cruise Line are very different than other cruise line’s packages. Other cruise line’s packages allow you to essentially pre-pay your alcoholic purchases onboard in advance. Disney’s packages however, while they are paid for in advance, don’t really allow you to go up to the bar and get a drink for free.

Drink packages with Disney Cruise Line are added on your My Disney Cruise account online before sailing. There are package options for beer or wine or champagne, but none for liquor. For example, the classic wine package includes three bottles of wine delivered to your stateroom for $97.00. There is also a beer package where you can get a refillable mug that allows for free refills onboard. You can see all of the options available for your cruise at this link.  

Bring Your Own Alcohol Onboard

If you don’t want to spend any money onboard on alcohol, there is one more option. Disney is one of very few cruise lines that allows guests to bring onboard their own alcohol. However, you are not allowed to bring liquor, but you can bring wine, champagne or beer.

Each guest over 21 years old is allowed either two bottles of wine or champagne, or one six pack of beers. If your do bring your own alcohol onboard it must be hand-carried in your carry-on luggage and not checked at the pier. A $25.00 corkage fee does apply if you are bringing your bottles to the dining room to consume.

In addition to being allowed to bring on your own beer or wine on embarkation day, you can also do so on port days. On port days you are allowed the same allocation of bottles as on embarkation, so two per cabin for wine/champagne or six beers. If you buy more than two bottles in port, Disney will hold the extras until the last day of the cruise. They will also hold any liquor purchased on land as well.

Theater Concessions, While Low Cost, Are Not Included On A Disney Cruise

All of the Disney cruise ships have a movie theater onboard that will show new or classic Disney movies. There is also a broadway style theater and shows as well in the main theater onboard. Both at the movie theater and the main theater you can usually find freshly popped popcorn and sometimes candy bars as well.

The popcorn onboard is usually only served around movie or showtimes. You can make a one time popcorn purchase for a single serving. Or they also offer refillable popcorn buckets like at the theme parks. These buckets are usually around $10.00 or so and then offer refills using the bucket for only $1.50, currently. If you like popcorn and will know you will repurchase it later, the buckets can be a great value.

Photographs Are Not Included On A Disney Cruise Like They Are With Memory Maker On Land

Similar to Photopass in the theme parks, Disney employs photographers to roam about on the ship taking photos that they will then later sell to you. These photos can include shots in front of a designated wallpaper background on embarkation day. Or they could include shots from onboard like while you are at dinner, at a character meet-n-greet, or at the Pirate Party on the top deck. They are even stationed on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, as well.

There is a photo studio onboard each ship called Shutters where you can go onboard to view the photos from throughout the cruise. You can either purchase your photos one by one, or you can also purchase photo packages. Photo packages vary by price and number of photos.

You can book your photo package in advance (which is the best option) online on your My Disney Cruise account. If you want photos and did not pre-purchase, make sure to get them before the cruise ends or they will no longer be accessible. Of course, photo packages are still eligible to be purchased onboard if you forgot to do so before sailing.

In addition to these “roaming” pictures onboard, there is also a professional photography studio. You can schedule a professional private studio session to get your family portraits or anything you want. I highly encourage you to book these sessions in advance online because availability is limited. Sometimes you might be able to find an open spot on a hims notice onboard, but definitely do not count on it.

It's A Small World Nursery is available onboard Disney Cruise Line at an extra charge for children age 6 months to 3 years old.
“It’s a Small World Nursery – Disney Dream” by Brian Hart is licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

Nursery For Children Under 3 (Or Who Aren’t Potty Trained)

The programming for children onboard a Disney cruise is certainly top tier. But the complimentary children’s programs, Adventure Ocean, are only offered for children older than three years old. Children age 6 months to three years old (or those not potty trained) are offered the It’s A Small World Nursery instead at an hourly rate.

The nursery, due to the extra level of care and supervision required, is an additional cost. However, I still think cost it is very reasonable. The current rate is $4.50 per half hour for the first child, and $4.00 per half hour for any additional children in your family. Space at the nursery is very limited and as such it is really important to book reservations in advance online. Refer back to the booking window chart at the beginning of the post to determine when you can do so.

I am sure if you already booked your cruise you will know the age limits required to sail. But if you are still planning your cruise, the minimum age to sail on a Disney cruise is 6 months on the day of sailing. However, on a transatlantic or Panama Canal cruise the minimum age is increased to one year. Also keep in mind that the nursery is not open 24/7 and hours can vary. You will want to check the cruise planner each day for exact details on hours.  

Select Snack and Food Options, Or Specialty Coffee

You can certainly eat onboard the cruise without ever taking out your wallet. However, there are also, of course, some specialty items that do require an additional charge. I think that these charges are often nominal, but most usually always worth it. These items include cool specialty offerings like Dole Whips, latees with foam character images, or a Wreck It Ralph themed ice cream challenge!

Specialty Food and Drink Locations Not Included In Your Disney Cruise Base Fare:

  • Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats
    • Available on Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream
    • Wreck It Ralph themed sweet shop featuring ice cream and gelato, baked goods, and candy. This is where you can get the family ice cream challenge served in a trophy cup or race car.  
  • Sweet on You
    • Available on Disney Fantasy only
    • Specialty dessert shop offering ice cream, cupcakes, chocolates, cookie, and bulk candy for an additional cost.
  • Cove Cafe
    • Available on all Disney ships
    • Adults only lounge that offers specialty coffees, cocktails, wine, and beer for an additional charge. Though there are also some light bites like pastries available at no extra charge to enjoy with your drinks. Some of the specialty latees can feature foam art with disney characters. I have personally had a Steamboat Willie latee before!
  • Dole Whips
    • Available on all Disney ships
    • Find these usually up by Eye Scream (the complimentary soft serve ice cream machine onboard). Dole Whip is usually served at a bar so you could also add in some rum for an adult treat as well!
  • Senses Juice Bar
    • Available on Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream
    • This is a juice bar near Senses and offers fresh blended juices from fruit and/or vegetables. You can also infuse your drink with extra vitamins or protein too.

Gratuities Are Not Included In The Disney Cruise Base Fare, And Are Not Optional, They Are Required

Gratuities of any kind are not included on a Disney cruise. There are two different kinds of gratuities that I will refer to here. First, is the automatically added gratuity of $13.50 per person, per day for everyone in your stateroom(s). This automatic, and required gratuity, goes towards your housekeeping and dining staff throughout the cruise. Second, is any additional gratuities you may give at your discretion to bar staff, luggage porters, etc.

The required automatic gratuity that is added to every reservation can be paid in two ways:

  • Option 1: Prepay the gratuites before departing on the cruise
    • If you prepay your gratuities in advance, on the last day of the cruise your housekeeper will deliver gratuity vouchers to your stateroom. Simply place these vouchers in the envelopes provided onboard. These vouchers will let your housekeeper and dining staff know you prepaid the gratuites. This prepays the gratuities at the rate of $13.50 per person, per day. You can add more on the last day if you choose.
  • Option 2: Pay the gratuities on the last day of the cruise
    • Gratuities will be added automatically to your final room bill if you do not prepay them in advance of departing. Therefore, you will pay for them all at once on the last day of the cruise along with any other onboard purchases you made throughout the cruise on your Key To The World room card. Any of those room card charges are paid on the card you put on file during cruise check-in.

Discretionary Gratuities

The discretionary gratuities that you pay for any onboard purchases on paid for on your Key To The World room card as well. This includes things like bartenders or specialty dining waiter, for example. So you’ll also pay for those at the end of the cruise with the credit/debit card you put on file during cruise check-in.

However, the gratuities process is different for things that happen on land. You will want to keep some cash handy for any discretionary gratuites for things that happen off of the ship. This includes things like pier luggage porters or shore excursion guides, for example. Plan ahead for this before you get on the cruise ship because there are no ATMs or cash available onboard.

Private hot tub at Senses Spa is available for an extra charge on any Disney cruise.
“Senses Spa Hot Tub” by Inside The Magic is licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Services at Senses Spa and Salon

Senses Spa and Salon is available on all of the Disney cruise ships. You can choose from a wide range of services and treatments at the spa and salon. There is also a “rainforest room” onboard as well that offers day passes or full length cruise passes for access to those amenities as well.

Reservations for spa or salon services can be made online in advance at the same time you reserve other cruise activities. Refer to the chart again at the beginning of this article if needed to make sure you book as soon as possible. Availability is limited at the spa so definitely book in advance if you want to make sure you get a spot. Worst case scenario check onboard at the spa as soon as you board to check for last minute available options.

Spa Services Include:

  • Rainforest Room day pass from $16.00; or seven night cruise pass from $144.00
    • Your cruise may also offer couples pricing for Rainforest Room passes as well.
    • The Rainforest Room does not give access to massages or personal treatments. Instead, it is access to a section of the spa with special amenities to enjoy. This includes things like warm ceramic lounge chairs, a steam room, a warm sauna, and tropical showers with rain pattern programs. On the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream there are also two jacuzzis overlooking the ocean in the Rainforest Room also.
  • Massages from $118.00
    • These can be either onboard, or also in a cabana at Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island).
  • Facials from $125.00
  • Men’s shaving services from $45.00
  • Private villa services and treatments from $475.00
    • These villas offer additional amenities like access to a private verandah and whirlpool, a bathing ritual of your choice, a tea ceremony, a foot cleanse and more.
  • Scalp treatments from $26.00
  • Women’s hairstyling services or haircut from $32.00
  • Men’s haircut from $24.00
  • Manicures from $50.00
  • Pedicures from $70.00

An 18% gratuity is automatically added for any spa and salon services.

Keep in mind that only guests 18 years of age or older have access to the spa. However, there is a separate section of the spa, Chill Spa, for children age 13 to 17 with limited services. For your convenience at the spa, there are complimentary locker rooms on site with lockers, bath robes and sandals to use, and complimentary non-alcoholic drinks.

Certain Onboard Activities To Enhance Your Cruise Are Not Included

The majority of activities onboard the cruise are included in your cruise fare at no additional cost. However, there are some special experiences that are not included on a Disney cruise, but can be added for a slight fee if you choose. All of these three additional cost activity options can, and should, be booked online in advance when your booking window opens. These activities are subject to limited availability.

Additional Cost Onboard Activities:

  • Beverage tasting seminars
    • Available on all Disney cruise ships
    • Cost: From $20.00 per person; but will vary by sailing and seminar type
    • These seminars are for adults only and feature tastings usually of one specific type of alcohol. This includes options like wine, beer, bourbon, champagne, martinis, rum, tequila, and more. You could also choose to participate in a mixology class as well.  
  • Golf and sports simulators
    • Available on Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream
    • Costs – Golf Packages: $28.00 for 30 minutes, or $49.00 for 60 minutes
      • These packages feature a variety of virtual Championship courses and allows you to practice your swing and play golf in a virtual environment.
    • Costs – Other Sports Packages: $13.00 for 30 minutes, or $22.00 for 60 minutes
      • Choose from basketball, hockey, baseball, football, or soccer to recreate and practice your favorite sport in a virtual setting.
  • Royal Court Tea
    • Available on all Disney cruise ships
    • Cost: $220.00 per child, and $69.00 per adult
    • This is a tea experience featuring a princess meet-n-greet, stories, dancing, and singing guided by the Royal Court Tea hostess and Royal Pastry Chef.
    • Includes a selection of herbal teas, one sweet course, and one savory course.
    • Designed for children ages 3 to 12. Children older than 12 are charged the adult price.
Transportation to the pier is not included on a Disney cruise but can be added for an extra charge.
“Disney Cruise Line Shuttle at Orlando Airport” by Gillfoto is licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Transportation To And From The Pier, Or Parking At The Pier

Transportation to and from the pier, while not directly a cruise expense, should also need to be considered in your budget. There are a few options for airport transfers to the ship, or you can also park directly at pier as well if you are not flying in.

Airport transfers can be confirmed in advance with Disney Cruise Line or through a third party vendor like Super Shuttle or FL Tours. Otherwise, you could also choose to get a taxi or rideshare service when you arrive at the airport as well to take you to the pier. Either option will work. Usually for longer drives it is more economical to book a transfer in advance (like for Port Canaveral departures, for example). However, for shorter drives (like in San Diego for example) it may be better to do a taxi or rideshare service.

If you are not flying to get to the cruise pier and are driving instead, you will need to leave your car parked at the cruise pier during the cruise. There is an additional cost to leave your car parked at the pier while you are gone. These costs are similar to parking in a downtown area and from my experience, are usually between $10.00 to $30.00 per day. Some piers also allow booking parking in advance for a discount so make sure to check online before departure.

Yes, These Things Are Not Included On A Disney Cruise, But You Can Still Cruise Without Them

With the exception of the gratuities for the housekeeping and dining staff onboard, all of the things mentioned on this list are just optional. Outside of gratuities, you can get onboard a Disney cruise and not spend another dime. However, myself and most families still find ourselves tempted by these add-ons. When on vacation, all bets are off for the number of add-on treats and experiences I can buy in one day!

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