Two Simple Rules About Disney Cruise Cost
We are not here to bury the lede, so we are starting off with two very simple rules about the cost of a Disney Cruise:
- Disney Cruises are EXPENSIVE
- You CANNOT directly compare the cost of a Disney Cruise to other cruise lines
Keep in mind that we state both of these rules even though we are card-carrying members of CLIA, the Cruise Line Industry Association. Disney Cruises are different, and the Disney Difference is evident in every aspect of their cruise itineraries. As we go through this article we will elaborate on both of these rules.
What You Need to Calculate
As we mentioned in our article on the cost of a vacation to Walt Disney World, this is the exact same methodology that Big Castle Travel uses to build a budget and plan trips for our clients. In each section below we will discuss specific types of costs that add to your overall package. If you see two sections side by side, like Airfare and Car Rental & Gas, those are usually choices within the larger section.
We will break up the cost into three different levels of value. These levels allow you to understand the price points for various Disney Cruise Line options, and how they fit into your budget. To keep it consistent we will plan this as if we are taking a 4-night cruise as a family of 2 adults and 2 children (ages 3-9).
You are here to enjoy the all-inclusive perks, and that’s enough for you.
- Driving to nearby port
- Interior Stateroom
This can be considered a median cost for the average Disney Cruise Line traveler.
- Flying to port
- Oceanview Stateroom
- Dinner at Palo or Remy
- 1-2 Port Adventures
This trip is the one you brag about for the next few years. Disney Cruises can cost more, but not by much.
- Flying to port
- Verandah Stateroom
- Dinner at Palo or Remy
- Daily Port Adventures
- Senses Spa Package
- Our Cruise Photos
Port x Destination x Time = ???
Here is where this article gets complicated so that the decision making process is easier for you! Disney Cruise Lines currently has four ships. All four have different itineraries, ports of call, and price variations at different times of year. Some people know their preferred itineraries based on the departure port or the destinations. But those of you who are interested in any Disney Cruise just entered a game of 4-D chess.
The rest of this article will talk about the high-level cost categories in a general sense. At the end we will present a sample cost table in a tabbed view, where each tab represents one ship and includes an overview of the various price points based on the nights and passengers combination we mentioned above.
Most families will end up flying to their departure port. You will want to price tickets from your local airport to the closest major airport to the departure port.
This will be entirely location-dependent, but expect to pay $150-$600 per ticket, or $600-$2400 for our family of four.
Ground transportation from the airport to the departure port is available for an extra charge. For example, Miami is around $21 per guest, while New York is $45 per guest. Average this out to around $120 in additional transportation costs after the flight. A Disney Travel Agent can assist you in adding ground transportation to the total trip cost.
Car Rental & Gas
Unlike our Walt Disney World Vacation Cost article, we rarely recommend driving your own car to the departure port due to the added cost of paying to park while you are on the cruise. It could be $10 per day, and it could be much more. Some lots are as safe as an airport park’n’fly, and some definitely are not.
Instead, it can be more cost effective to rent two rental cars: a one-way rental from your house to the port to drop off on embarkation day, and a one-way rental back to your house after the cruise. A minivan is a great option to travel in comfort and with extra space!
For cruises we do not recommend driving more than a day to get to your departure port. Most people will drive a max of 10 hours per day, for a maximum distance of around 650 miles. A minivan gets around 19 mpg, and gas is around $2.60 per gallon right now. That equates to $0.14 per mile. A 10-hour, 650 mile trip is $91, or $182 in gas for the round-trip cost.
Renting a minivan will cost between $150-$200 for a full-day rental. Double that to $300-$400 for the return rental.
Staterooms and Accommodations
By nature of a cruise, the majority of the price is determined by the stateroom class that you choose on the ship. As mentioned above, that cost is complicated by the destination and the time of year. For the cost comparison in this section we will pick the 4-Night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral, which sets sail 30 times over the next 15 months on both the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy.
Keep in mind that these prices are inclusive of the majority of your food and entertainment costs. No need to experience sticker shock, so long as you remember our first two rules!
- Low Cost
- Stateroom Type: Standard Inside
- Ship Location: Aft
- Rack Rate: $200-$300 per night per adult, $100-$200 per night per child (age 3-9)
- Total: $3,800
- Stateroom Type: Deluxe Oceanview
- Ship Location: Forward
- Rack Rate: $230-$400 per night per adult, $140-$300 per night per child (age 3-9)
- Total: $4,500
- Stateroom Type: Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah
- Ship Location: Midship
- Rack Rate: $349-$600 per night per adult, $153-$300 per night per child (age 3-9)
- Total: $6,200
Port adventures, often called shore excursions on other cruise lines, are the vacation experiences that you can select for your ship’s day(s) in port. However, the unique thing with port adventures is that Disney Cruise Line has specially selected these at each port and provides an easy booking method for each. Plenty of other cruise lines claim to do something similar, but often travelers are left to figure out their shore excursions for themselves and do not have much protection against unscrupulous vendors.
Disney Cruise Line does an amazing job of picking some incredible port adventures. There are so many port adventure options per cruise that you are better off setting a budget of around 15%-25% of the cruise’s cost to account for them. Definitely work with your Disney Travel Agent to pick the perfect port adventure for you!
Here is a sampling of port adventures for different cruise destinations, with prices listed per adult:
Photography services on board the Disney ships are… not as good of a value as the options at Disney World. The Our Cruise Photos system is more expensive, lower quality, and has less options than the what you might be used to with Disney’s PhotoPass service at the parks.
That said, we are still firm believers that the professional-quality photos of your vacation will be some of the most cherished memories later in life. Considering the $169 price of Memory Maker’s digital downloads at the parks, it is difficult to recommend the All Digital on USB package with Our Cruise Photos for $194.95 on most cruises for anyone but the Luxury traveler. A better option for a Mid-Range travel might be the 34-picture Photobook for $139.95.
Each Disney Cruise ship has a Senses Spa & Salon onboard. Packages are similar to what you would find at most other high-end spas. But if you’re not going to indulge in spa treatments on a Disney Cruise, when are you?
Some services include:
- Swedish Couples Massage – 50 minutes – $259
- ELEMIS Aroma Stone Therapy – 75 minutes – $209
- Thai Herbal Poultice Massage – 75 minutes – $219
- BIOTEC Super Charger for Men – 50 minutes – $169
Much like professional photography, we will always recommend adding money to your budget for souvenirs. Typically 10%-15% of your total cruise purchase will cover all of the souvenir cups, clothing, and plushies your family might want to take home with them.
Food & Drink
Earlier we mentioned that travelers must remember that a large portion of your stateroom cost covers the all-you-care-to-eat aspect of food on a Disney Cruise. While you are on the ship, standard meals and many snack items are free. PRO TIP: You can also order anything on any menu. You want the lobster AND the steak? Same price as the chicken!
So why is there a food and drink section in this article? First, alcoholic drinks and some specialty beverages are not free. There is also no standard booze package, so you will buy each drink individually and charge it to your stateroom. Add another 10% to your cruise cost if you are into boat drinks like us.
Second, all four Disney Cruise ships have adult-only dining options available at an extra charge. All four ships have Palo, an Italian fine dining restaurant known for its incredible service. The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy also have Remy, a French-inspired location with dishes reminiscent of Victoria & Albert’s back at the Grand Floridian. Palo will cost an additional $40 per person for dinner or $105 for wine-pairing. Remy is $125 for dinner and $230 per person for the wine-pairing menu.
Sample Cost Table
This sample cost table has a bit more information than our Disney World Vacation cost table. For the Disney Cruises we are showing a wide variety of destination options for a 4-night cruise across all 4 Disney Cruise ships, for a family of 2 adults and 2 children (ages 3-9). Instead of the per-section cost breakdown, we are showing the full estimated trip cost in each of our value levels.
Let’s get to some 4-D chess!
It is clear that there is no single way to do a Disney Cruise. We have listed 5 high level components of a Disney Cruise, and each section had multiple variables and subcomponents to the final price. We also only explored 4-night cruises in our cost table, and neglected multiple popular destinations like Alaska and Hawai’i. Mixing and matching the options on this page will likely result in a cost that is right for you.
If you need help determining the cost of YOUR Disney Cruise vacations, click the Get a Quote Buttons, chat with us on Facebook Messenger, or leave a note in the comments below!