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The Hidden Costs Of Sailing With The Disney Cruise Line

September 3, 2022

As frustrating as it is, there are many hidden costs to cruising that don’t always present itself until after you’ve already booked your cruise.

In this case, these hidden costs can be things that you know you’ll have to pay for. But, you’re underestimating just how much you could be spending. Others may be things you didn’t know had a price tag attached to them.

Either way, you should always do your homework before going on a cruise. Because you may be surprised at how much these extras can cost.

Passports

Many know that they’ll need a passport to cruise. But, they don’t realize timelines or hidden costs associated with getting one.

Passport Photos

Getting your Passport photos vary in price, depending on where you go.

While it’s acceptable to take your own photo, there are many guidelines for how they (and you) should look. If your photo is not accepted, you will have to get it redone. If you have a trip coming up, this may be wasted time that you simply don’t have.

That’s why companies, like Passport Photo Online, give you tips on how to look, photo size, lighting restrictions, and more. For those of us with a baby, there’s additional suggestions for how to take their photo, so it’s acceptable to be used for passports.

Once you upload your photo, they transform it into a professional passport photo that is guaranteed to be accepted.

How much for this service?

$13.95 for their regular service
Your digital photo and template will have the background erased and reviewed by an expert. Your photos are able to be downloaded and printed.
$16.95 for the Premium Service
Includes services above PLUS a copy of your photo will be sent to your home address

If you choose the $13.95 service, you can either print your passport photo at home or have any store with a photo lab (CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, etc) print it for you.

Stores will want you to pay $16.99 to print a Passport photo. However, you can generate a passport photo template on the Passport Photo Online app.

Once you have the right format, you can simply print your photo (there will be 2 per page) on a 4×6 photo. Prices do vary per store, but they generally cost less than $1 per print.

Passport Book

To get a United States Passport book for the first time, the cost is:

$165 for Guests 16 years and older
$130 for Guests under 16 years old

    There may additional hidden costs, if you need to expedite your passport.

    To expedite your passport, meaning it’s processed within 5-7 weeks, there is a $60 charge. Once it’s ready to be mailed out, there’s an additional $18.32 for 1-2 day delivery added on top of that.

    In other words, if you’re thinking of going on a cruise, don’t wait to apply for a passport.

    COVID Testing

    Requirements change frequently. In fact, I was in the middle of writing this post when I received another email regarding more changes.

    While I will be addressing the most recent changes, you should always talk to your Travel Agent to get the most recent information on COVID requirements.

    Vaccination

    Everyone aboard the Disney Cruises must be fully vaccinated, with the exception of children under 12.

    Children under 12 are exempt from being fully vaccinated. But, it’s still highly recommended they do get vaccinated, if possible, and wear masks.

    Pre-Embarkation Testing

    From now until September 22, 2022, everyone needs to test and submit proof of a negative COVID test 1-3 days prior to sailing. You can choose to get this done anywhere you’d like. However, the test given must be a PCR or NAAT test. And these hidden costs are your responsibility to pay.

    In-person PCR tests can range anywhere between $130 and $200.

    If you can’t find an available appointment or you feel more comfortable testing at home, you can also purchase your own at-home COVID test and use Onpoint Testing.

    Onpoint Testing is $18.99, in addition to the cost of your at-home COVID Test.

    You will have a Virtual Appointment with an Onpoint Testing Assistant. They will watch you administer the COVID test to yourself and wait for a negative screening. Shortly after, you will receive your information via email.

    Negative results will need to be uploaded to the Inspire Diagnostics Safe Passage website by midnight, prior to embarkation day.

    New Requirements

    Starting September 23, 2022, fully vaccinated Guests no longer need to test prior to boarding a Disney Cruise Ship in the American Ports.

    Guests who are not fully vaccinated will still follow the same requirements above. However, they will no longer be required to complete a second COVID test at the terminal on embarkation day.

    Transportation

    Whether you take a shuttle, car share, or drive yourself to the Port, make sure you know the hidden costs associated with each of these options.

    Parking at the Ports Within The USA

    You may have anticipated you’d have to pay to park at the terminal. But, prices vary. So, make sure you’re budgeting enough to cover the costs.

    Port Canaveral$17 per day (including day of arrival and day of departure)
    Port of GalvestonPort Parking– Visit site to see Parking fees
    Join their Loyalty Program to instantly get 10% off
    Port of Galveston$64 – $135 (plus tax) depending on the length of your cruise. Join their Loyalty Program to get 50 points ($5) and use automatically to save
    Port Miami$22 per day All garages and Lot E accept cash, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, or any major U.S. Traveler’s Check. No debit cards
    Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)$15 per day
    $19 per day for oversized vehicles
    New Orleans (Port NOLA)$90 – $150, depending on the length of your cruise (no oversized vehicles allowed)
    New York Port Terminal (Manhattan Terminal)$40 per night (1-10 nights)
    $400 for extended cruise parking (11-14 nights)
    Port of San DiegoThere is no parking at the terminal, but there are off-site parking options with shuttle service
    Visit Port of San Diego for venues and prices

      Shuttles

      Unless you’re local, I always recommend trying to arrive a day early. And while this doesn’t exactly fall under the category of “hidden costs”, it certainly adds to your overall travel costs.

      Why travel a day early? You never know when flights will be delayed or cancelled. If you’re driving a long distance, you run the risk of traffic or car problems putting you behind schedule.

      Of course, getting somewhere a day early isn’t always an option.

      And while Lyft/Uber is often the cheaper option, some prefer the idea of riding with a company instead of a complete stranger. Fortunately, there are shuttles that can take you where you need to go.

      Interested on saving money on Lyft? Use this link to save on your next trip.

      Disney Cruise Line Shuttles

      There are benefits to booking a shuttle with the Disney Cruise Line. While it’s often the more expensive option, you’re working with the same company. In the event that your flight is arriving a little later than scheduled, it’s much more likely that they’ll wait for you to make it to Port.

      Space is limited, so I do recommend booking early. Contact your Travel Agent to have Ground Transportation added to your Reservation.

      Port Canaveral

      Go Port Shuttle from MCO to Port Canaveral$29.99 per person (one way) or $59.98 (round trip)
      Go Port Off Site Parking $50 (plus $5 for each additional person)
      You also get a shuttle from the parking lot to the terminal

      Need a hotel pre and/or post cruise? Go Port has an option called Fly Snooze Cruise. Prices include shuttles to and from MCO, your hotel, and the cruise terminal.

      If you’re driving to Port Canaveral, you can choose Snooze Park Cruise. This option not only includes your hotel stay, it also includes parking and the shuttle from the parking lot to your cruise terminal.

      Disney Cruise Line Shuttle from MCO to Port Canaveral$39 per Guest (one way)

      Port of Galveston

      If you’re flying into Houston to take a cruise out of Galveston, try to fly into Hobby (HOU) airport. It’s much closer to Galveston than Bush (IAH).

      I currently live in North Houston, closer to IAH, and it easily takes us 2 hours to get to Galveston. If you get caught in traffic (which is very likely), it can take much longer than that.

      Galveston Express$30 per adult, 27.50 per child 10 and under or over age 55 and up (one way) from Hobby to the Galveston Cruise Terminals
      Island Breeze ShuttlesThey offer different rates, depending on the number of passengers you have. But, they do have senior citizen and military discounts.
      Disney Cruise Line Shuttle from IAH$45 per Guest (one way)
      Disney Cruise Line Shuttle from HOUNo Shuttle Available

      Port Miami

      Disney Cruise Line Shuttle from Miami International Airport$21 per person (one way)

      Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

      Go Airport Shuttle $59.70 – $98.34 per vehicle (one way)

      New Orleans (Port NOLA)

      Disney Cruise Line Shuttle from Louis Armstrong
      New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
      $25 per Guest (one way)
      Go With Us Airport Shuttle $121.32 – $473.98 per vehicle (one way)

      New York Port Terminal (Manhattan Terminal)

      Disney Cruise Line from La Guardia (LGA)
      and John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
      $45 per Guest (one way)

      Port of San Diego

      Disney Cruise Line from San Diego
      International Airport (SAN)
      $18 per Guest (one way)

      Tips

      This is quite possibly the most hidden of all the hidden costs.

      While all food (with a few exceptions) are included in the cost of your cruise, tipping is not.

      You can choose to prepay for your tips, or pay on board. But, this is where the hidden costs come in.

      If you don’t prepay, your onboard account will automatically be charged the suggested amount.

      The suggested amount for gratuities (tips) is $14.50 per night, per stateroom Guest (including infants and children). If you’re staying in Concierge, the gratuities are $15.50 per night, per stateroom Guest. Tips are split between the Dining room server, Dining room assistant server, Dining room head server, and your Stateroom host.

      For my family of 5 (including an 11 month old), that’s an additional $72.50 per night that I need to budget for, even though it’s not initially calculated when I book my trip.

      An 18% gratuity may also be charged to your onboard account, for alcohol, deck service tabs, and spa services. If you’re staying in Concierge, it’s also recommended to pay $8 per night, per stateroom Guest for the Concierge Lounge Team.

      Dining at adult dining locations, such as Remy, Palo, Palo Steakhouse and Enchanté by Chef Arnaud Lallement? These meals are an upcharge, so additional gratuities will need to be paid separately from the suggested gratuities listed above.

      Disney Cast Members absolutely go above and beyond. But, seeing a giant bill at the end of your trip can ruin any experience. So, budget accordingly and be mindful about what you can and can’t afford before getting on the Cruise Ship.

      Specialty Food and Dining

      You can absolutely cruise with Disney and not pay extra for food.

      However, sometimes you absolutely need that specialty drink or treat. And the adult only areas are perfect for date nights with a loved one.

      The problem is, these specialty treats and meals are not included in the price of your cruise. And since some of these specialty items are located in restaurants where meals are included with the cost of your cruise, it can sometimes get confusing.

      Not sure if it’s an upcharge? You can simply ask a Cast Member. If one is not available, check the menu. Specialty drinks and treats list the price. Anything included in the cost of your cruise does not.

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      Activities

      There are so many activities on the Disney Cruise Line. And many of them don’t require you to pay anything extra.

      However, if you want to play Bingo, you’ll have to pay between $20 – $60, depending on the package you want to play.

      If you want to expand your horizons and learn something new, classes are available on board at a cost of around $40 – $100 per Guest. Special experiences, such as the “Be Our Chef” Experience, can cost much more. The “Be Our Chef” Experience is currently $247 per Guest.

      If you’ve heard a lot about the Rainforest Room, it should come to no surprise that this comes with a price, as well. Like all Spas, there’s many different packages, and each has its own price tag.

      Some packages can be very pricey. However, if you’re looking for a 1-Day Singles Rainforest Pass, it’s available for just $16 + tax.

      Excursions at Ports of Call are extra, as well. And prices vary per activity. And some may be more affordable than you think. For example, activities on Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, include activities such as: bicycle rentals ($13 for one hour), snorkeling with stingray ($36 for ages 10+, $25 for ages 5-9), paddleboats ($18), and parasailing ($129 for ages 8+).

      Childcare

      There are multiple areas for kids to go and hang out, without their parents.

      However, the “It’s a Small World” Nursery, which is for kids ages 6 months through 3 years old, is the only childcare area that comes with hidden costs.

      How much does it cost?

      $4.50 per half hour for the first child (there is a one hour minimum)
      $4.00 per half hour for any additional children in your family

      As a former Lead Infant/Toddler Teacher, I understand ratios very well. Ratios for these ages are very low, which is why availability is extremely limited. While reservations can be made at any time during your trip (as long as there’s room), it’s highly recommended that you pre-register online.

      WIFI

      It’s expensive to stay connected on Cruise Ships, and the Disney Cruise Line is no different.

      While the Disney Cruise Line has upgraded their plans from a “$0.25 per MB” cost (yikes!) to now include per day costs, it’s still pretty expensive for what you get.

      If you only want to post pictures to social media, it’s still going to cost you at least $10 per day to do so. If you want to read emails, surf the web, etc…you’re looking at $20 – $30 per day.

      In my opinion, skip WIFI. It’s pretty expensive for spotty service.

      Unless you absolutely have to stay connected, you’ll still have access to the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App, so you know exactly what’s going on around the ship. And if you have an iPhone, you’ll likely still have the ability to text friends and family. Although, this can be spotty, as well.

      Ready to book your magical vacation?

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