1st cruise need budget help

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by staceycanada, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. staceycanada

    staceycanada Mouseketeer

    Sep 16, 2006
    We are looking at taking our very first cruise. Not sure which one we would pick yet. We are on a tight budget and like to pay cash for our vacations. So what I need to know is what is covered with the initial cost of the cruise- room, food, drinks, activities?

    What things are extra? If my children attended one of the kids clubs what is the cost?

    Where do you find a list of all the extra activities you can book? And when do you need to reserve your spot?
  2. PrincessShmoo

    PrincessShmoo DIS veteran

    Feb 12, 2009
    You do not pay extra for the kids clubs. Some of the activities may have a cost, but participation in the club itself is incuded.

    Extra costs are photos, excursions, beverages in the the bars/lounges, tastings, spa, nursery (if you need it), snacks from room service (incuding sodas) and at the snack bar outside the theatre.

    On the DCL site is where the excursions are. Your booking window (for first time cruisers) is 75 days out.

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  4. kcashner

    kcashner DIS Veteran

    Dec 4, 2003
    Is this new? No activity we've ever seen or done in the programming, with the exception of the teen excursions, has ever had a cost. THings that would cost outside of the programming are free in it--like if they do smoothie party, each kid gets a free smoothie. Invade the Arcade time has all the games set to free play. Design a t-shirt--each kid participating gets a free shirt. There has never been a charge for anything my kid did during the programming on the ship.

    You can have a great cruise and not spend a penny beyond your cruise ticket and tips. Tips are $12 per guest per night of cruise--so for a 4 night cruise they would be $48 times the number of people in your family. On the other hand, you could spend thousands! There are also a zillion little ways to save money while cruising.

    OK, your ticket includes all food and regular beverages (including sodas). Specialty coffees, smoothies, and alcohol are extra. All kid programming and most adult programming is included. Those items with an extra cost are adult only dining, tastings (beer, wine, tequila, etc), bingo, spa. ALL shows, movies, etc. are included. Fitness center is included.

    Shopping.....nuff said. Photos--use your own camera. The character attendants are happy to take family shots with your camera. Excursions--can range from a $ 6 float to $400 for "dolphin trainer for a day." You can enjoy the islands while spending little or nothing...or you can spend a lot..or you can stay on the ship.

    I'm totally serious--you can have a great time and spend essentially NOTHING beyond your cruise fare and tips. Obviously, you have a cost for transportation to the terminal from wherever you live. OR you can spend a small fortune.:goodvibes
  5. sambycat

    sambycat DIS Veteran

    Mar 24, 2007
    Buying or checking out a DCL guidebook at the library (I like passporters!) is also really helpful in getting a handle on cost/things to do! Have fun!!
  6. Conservative Hippie

    Conservative Hippie Ravenclaw

    Apr 26, 2006
    Don't forget to budget $12 per person per night for tips, and extra cash for room service tips (the room service food itself is included)! Also parking at the port if you are driving, or transportation from the airport if you are flying. If you have a child under the age of 3, the nursery charges $6 per hour for childcare. Programming for children over 3 is included.
  7. footballmouse

    footballmouse DIS Veteran

    Nov 5, 2008
    OK, someone please clear a couple of things up for me. We'll be going on our first cruise in Sept. One poster said that snacks & drinks are not included for room service; another one said food is included from room service. Is this considered meals that are included but chips & a pop are not?

    And who is the $12 per person every nite going to? Don't we tip waiters as we go?
  8. BeeTeacher

    BeeTeacher Mouseketeer

    Nov 15, 2011
    I'm with you! I'm a frugal mom, couponer, etc. I waited and watched and waited until a FL resident rate came up because we just could not do it any other way.

    Everything above is accurate, but I wanted to give you an idea of a typical cost.

    We are not big drinkers, just an occasional fruity drink.

    Our excursions:
    nassau harbor tour x 2 (25 ea)
    float rental at CC
    Bike rental at CC
    2 Drinks of the Day
    2 lanyards
    2 8x10s and a portfolio
    a 12 x 12 scrapbook and a few pins and post cards
    Tips for 2 people, 3 nights ($75?)

    At the end of the trip we had a bill of $257 and with a $150 on board credit we paid just $107, plus about $6 in room service and about $20 for souvenirs and sodas in Nassau.

    not too bad, really.
  9. sissy_ib

    sissy_ib DIS Veteran

    Feb 23, 2010
    Most food from rooms service is included. Sodas are extra if ordered from room service or at a bar. From the drink station or at meals sodas are free. There are a few snacks from room service that are extra.

    You do not tip as you go. The $12 a day is divided between the room host($4/day), server ($4/day), assistant server ($3/day) and head server ($1/day). This is the suggested amount for each person in your party. Anything such as alcohol or bottled water you order from a bar has an automatic 15% gratuity added. You can tip above that if you wish.
  10. mellyp

    mellyp Mouseketeer

    Jan 5, 2011
    For room service
    Food is included. Snack like pop corn is not. If you order soda, they will charge you, so better get it from beverage station, its free.

    Tips is $12/person/night, is divide to server, Assistant server, Room hostess, Head Server. They are the same people. You give it the last night to them.
    The tips
    Server : $4/person/night
    Assistant server : $3/person/night
    Head server : $1/person/night
    Hostess : $4/person/night
  11. Conservative Hippie

    Conservative Hippie Ravenclaw

    Apr 26, 2006
    There are a few things from room service that are an extra charge - packaged candy, chips, bottled water, cans of soda. Think of it as anything you don't make in the kitchen. These will be clearly marked on the room service menu. Everything else - cookies, sandwiches, soup, burgers, hot tea, coffee, pastries - is free. You can get soda for free from the self-serve fountains.

    $12 per person per day tips are broken down like this:

    Head dining room server - $1 per person per night
    Server - $4 per person per night
    Assistant server - $4 per person per night
    Stateroom host - $3 per person per night
    = $12 per person per night

    This is all customarily given on the last night. You tip as you go for the spa, room service, and beverages purchased from a bar (alcoholic or not). These beverages have an automatic 15% added. For the spa, you add your tip to the charge to your account. For room service tips, you will need cash.

    For the customary gratuity, you can pre-pay by adding it to your account at any time - now, or once onboard. You will get a receipt to put in the envelope to be given to each cast member. Otherwise, you can put cash into the envelope. You can always tip above the recommended, either by charging extra to your account, or putting cash in the envelope.
  12. Who's your Mickey?

    Who's your Mickey? Ruler of the Disney Universe

    Jul 20, 2010
    The basics covered in your cruise fare are:
    -Meals in main dining rooms / pool deck buffet restaurant
    -Oceaneers Club/Lab (3-11) / Edge (11-13) / Vibe (14-18)
    -Fountain sodas from the self serve stations on the pool deck or at meals.
    -Ice cream (self serve soft-serve on the pool deck)
    -Shows / movies
    -Room Service
    -Deck Parties (Day or night)
    -Fireworks on Pirate Night
    -AquaDuck (Dream & Fantasy only)
    -Port taxes
    -Coffee (not speciaty brews)

    Here are the extras:
    -Gratuities - plan on $12 per person per day (covers stateroom host, waiter, asst waiter & head waiter) plus porters at the pier figure $2 per bag (at least on embarkation day)
    -Adult beverages (and sodas purchased at the bar... Learned that one the hard way...)
    -Bingo (the lure of a free cruise and cash prizes can get pricey)
    -snacks outside the theaters
    -Palo / Remy
    -Souvenirs (they add up quickly)
    -Transportation (depending on how you get to the port)
    -Rental Car (varies by days/vehicle size/vendor)
    -Parking at the port - $15 per day or part thereof (# of nights+1 x $15)
    -Port transfers from MCO on DCL coaches - $70 per person R/T
    -Shore Excursions
    -Taxis in port (ALWAYS ask what the price is before getting in the cab. They don't use meters in the Caribbean. Most cabbies you'll come across at the pier are honest and hard working (not to mention great tour guides), but some are less scrupulous. If you don't discuss the price up front, you could get a big surprise!!! And there little to no recourse for you if you don't.)
    -Specialty Coffees
    -Photos (this one can be a KILLER!!!)
    -US Customs duties (if you exceed allowances)

    I'm sure I'm forgetting things in both lists, but that's a good start.
  13. Disney mam

    Disney mam Mouseketeer

    Feb 4, 2012
    So, I am on a 7 night cruise with my DH and 2 sons. This means I would have to tip $336 at the end of my cruise? Plus whatever else I see fit for tips.
  14. sissy_ib

    sissy_ib DIS Veteran

    Feb 23, 2010
    The $336 is the recommended amount for the 4 tipped positions on-board. You can tip any of them more if you wish. Any other tipping is separate. We tipped room service a few bucks when we ordered it, some times for drinks we added extra to the 15% auto gratuity and we tipped the shuttle drivers to and from the port and the porters who handled our bags. We also added a tip at Palo although it says the fee covers gratuities. Also if you use the spa you can tip just as you would at a spa/salon at home. I do feel bad we went to the spa for a rasul and it was so bad we left very early and they did not charge us. I should have given the woman a tip but I did not think to until after the fact since I never had to sign for it and of course I was not carrying cash.
  15. mellers

    mellers DIS Veteran

    Aug 4, 2007
    I'm sure this is not complete (other DIS'ers can add)

    What is not included:


    Cruise transfers

    Cruise insurance (yes, particularly if you're from Canada, you need it. US medical expenses cost big $$$$$$$$). Check the insurance thread before you decide which insurance to buy.


    Shore Excursions

    Child care for children who are not toilet trained or under 3. The kids clubs do have set times, but are included in your cruise fare.

    Palo and Remy's

    Spa Treatments


    Fancy Coffee Drinks

    Smoothies and Mocktails

    Canned sodas, movie snacks, and some drinks and snacks from room service, but most food is free from room service(although it requires an additional gratuity).

    Non-alcoholic drinks ordered through the bars (non-alcoholic drinks--except as noted above--are free in the restaurants and from the drink station)


    Tuxedo Rentals

    General information on reservation times/ways to save money:


    I do not recommend DCL insurance. There are those who feel that the ability to get a credit for your cruise fare towards a future cruise if your claim is denied is worth the risk of a failure to cover pre-existing conditions; I do not. It is unlikely that your Canadian medical insurance will cover you in the United States or on the trip--although it's worth checking. My recommendation is to purchase your cruise insurance within 14 days of your initial deposit, so you can choose from the largest number of travel insurance policies which will cover pre-existing conditions. You will probably spend less, and will almost certainly get better coverage, than with Disney. Try http://www.tripinsurancestore.com/ , http://www.************.com , or http://www.squaremouth.com/ I know Travel Insured policies will cover children for free--that's worth checking out. I believe another poster mentioned that Access America does as well. Check to see which policies will cover Canadian residents.

    Shore Excursions:

    The Disney Cruise Line website has a list of the types and prices of shore excursions, and will tell you about some of the spa treatments/adult dining options you can book for your cruise. When we went to Alaska on a Disney cruise, we booked all of our own excursions, and not only paid less, we did not have last priority for booking. (Disney allows you to book by Castaway Club status--new cruisers have last priority.) Some of the differences between Disney's excursions and self-book options are really egregious, particularly if you have any children between the ages of 10-12--Disney books them as adults, and most independent tours book them as children. When we rode the White Pass Yukon Route train, we booked it ourselves, and paid $50 less as a family ($10 each) than we would have through Disney. The difference? We boarded at the "engine end" of the train, which was at the station, and had to check in at the station, and the Disney passengers boarded at the "caboose end" of the train, which was the dock. It was the exact same train! Passengers with 10-12 year old kids saved a lot more $$$ than we did.

    When you can book the other activities depends upon what your status is--you will have last priority as a new cruiser, so you will want to book at your first opportunity, particularly for really popular stuff like Palo and Remy.

    If you have 3 or more people, chances are you are better off purchasing your own transportation to the port rather than Disney's--but this is something you should double-check. Also pre-cruise hotels. Don't be afraid to use those hotel points--they can be very good for a pre-cruise or post-cruise stay.

    Also, it's sometimes good to check out more than one potential airport--for example, if you're heading to Alaska, it might be a better value to fly into Vancouver, BC and take the QuickShuttle down to Seattle.

    Whether or not airfare is cheaper from Disney or on your own seems to vary, and deserves some consideration. It seems, from other posters (please correct me if I'm wrong) that you can cancel airfare from Disney if you do so by a certain time, so it may be worth it to book the airfare through Disney, and then cancel it if you find a better rate on your own.

    We really loved our Disney Cruise--in fact, so much that our "once in a lifetime cruise" is being repeated this year :rolleyes1 I hope you get to go on one soon with your family, and that you have just as much fun as we did. :goodvibes
  16. kcashner

    kcashner DIS Veteran

    Dec 4, 2003
    Yes, the $336 would be the suggested tip total for the week for the 4 tipped positions.

    Sodas that are in cans (bars, beach, room service) and boxed candy (like you get at a theater) and popcorn has a charge. Soda from fountain service (restaurants and beverage station) is free 24/7. Milk, juice, coffee, tea, etc. is free all the time.

    You can get snacks from the pool deck including sodas and take them into the theaters with you if desired. There are VERY few charged food items...but if you order a bag of M&Ms, it is charged.
  17. mellers

    mellers DIS Veteran

    Aug 4, 2007
    Probably should add--to save money, book through a travel agency that offers OBC credits, or other perks to book with them. Apparently, Costco offers a pretty substantial gift card, if you shop there--but that may be different in Canada. I've had good luck with Dreams Unlimited.

    FWIW, when we took our last cruise to Alaska, we took care of our own pre-cruise nights (for points--saved about $450 for 3 nights), pre-cruise transportation (saved about $80--5 people going), our shore excursions (saved $10 per person on one excursion--the other two were special things that we wanted to do that Disney didn't do, so it's hard to compare savings--but we got to do what we wanted to do.) and our transportation to Vancouver from Seattle (not available through Disney). We rented hubby's tux, and paid for it, from an outside vendor and it was hanging in our stateroom closet when we got on.

    While we were on the ship, we ate in the dining room for dinner, and ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet. If we wanted a snack, we got fruit or ice cream from one of the quick-service places by the pool. We didn't eat a single meal in port. When we went to the shows or the movies, we were far too stuffed to even miss not having any movie snacks. We got drinks from the drink station. We brought on our own laundry detergent/fabric softener sheets (BEST! THINGS! EVER!) We did family games, trivia contests, and my daughter and I did the Alice tea party, just to say we'd done it (really mostly for little kids--if you want to do that, get your tickets from guest services the minute you get on board).

    At the end of the cruise, our shipboard bill included only the gratuities mentioned above, and the charges for the laundromat machines. You don't have to spend a lot of money onboard to have a good time.
  18. zealandsmom

    zealandsmom DIS Veteran

    May 10, 2011
    Does someone ACTUALLY win a free cruise each cruise??
  19. sissy_ib

    sissy_ib DIS Veteran

    Feb 23, 2010
    They don't give a free cruise anymore. They had $5000 jackpot and $10,000 jackpot but it is not guaranteed and no one won when I was on-board last week. The final jackpot was over $4000 and two people split that. The final jackpot is dependent on how many people have played throughout the cruise and added to the pot.
  20. Disney mam

    Disney mam Mouseketeer

    Feb 4, 2012
    Thanks guy, I am happy to get this clarified.
  21. malacajo

    malacajo Mouseketeer

    Sep 6, 2011
    I'm so glad that someone listed what they did, and how much..I've been looking for examples like this. Everything you listed would be about what we would, except that we are possibly going to splurge on one snorkeling adventure, but that would be the absolute biggest thing we do..We are just so excited about going on our first cruise!!!!

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