A Disney Cruise is an altogether different kind of vacation from a Disney theme park. So it’s understandable that you might feel a bit lost if you’re planning your first cruise ever. We’re here to help! Although we’d never be able to fit every possible detail into a single article, here are some of the most important basic things to know about Disney Cruises.
There are five Disney cruise ships
Disney Cruise Line has five cruise ships, with three more on the way. The two smallest (and oldest) ships are the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder; their smaller size means they can visit smaller ports of call which are unable to accommodate bigger ships. The newer Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy ships are much larger and have more onboard amenities such as a waterslide-style coaster. The newest ship is the Disney Wish, and it will soon be followed by the Disney Treasure (2024) and the yet-to-be-named seventh and eighth ships (2025).
Which ship is best? It’s likely going to be a matter of personal preference; some people love all that there is to do on the larger ships, while others gravitate to the charm of the smaller ships. Fortunately, in the age of YouTube you can see countless walk-throughs and reviews to help make up your mind.
Disney Cruise prices are per person and based on age
One of the biggest differences in cruises versus a traditional land vacation is that cruises are priced by the person (more like airline tickets than hotels).
Disney Cruise prices are usually based on something called Double Occupancy. This means that the price you see is based on two people staying in the stateroom (cabin). For people who are cruising alone, expect to pay something called a “Single Supplement,” meaning that you’ll probably pay the same price for your room as if two people were in it.
On Disney Cruises, the first two people in the room pay the full double occupancy rate, while the fare for any third/fourth/fifth passengers (in the same room) is based on their ages and is usually significantly lower.
As an example, we checked prices for a typical three-night Bahamian cruise with an oceanview stateroom and a party of five (three adults, an 8-year-old, and a 2-year-old). Here’s the pricing breakdown:
- First Adult: $963
- Second Adult: $963
- Third Adult: $525
- 8-Year-Old: $504
- 2-Year-Old: $289
You’ll also have to pay some mandatory fees such as taxes and port expenses. On our sample cruise above, these fees total about $507 combined for the entire room full of passengers.
Finally, it’s customary to tip several crew members including your dining room staff and stateroom attendants; Disney Cruise Line will automatically add these gratuities (on a per person, per night basis) to your shipboard folio before the end of your cruise, and it’s not shown in the price quote you seen online. You can request that the charges be removed, but understand that this is very much an industry standard and the tips are, quite frankly, expected.
It can be a little tricky to compare prices from one cruise line to another.
Some cruise lines prefer to post their pricing for a family of four, others for a group of two, and still others simply show the per-person price.
And, some cruise lines show fees in the rate on the front page of their site while others show them later in the booking process. So make sure you know exactly what you’re looking at when comparing prices.
The Disney Cruise Line website allows you to enter the exact number of travelers and their ages and displays a total price which includes all mandatory taxes and fees.
Other factors also impact the price you pay
In addition to the number of passengers an their ages, you’ll also find other things that affect the price:
- Cruise Itinerary: You’ll pay more for longer cruises, or for cruises which visit more exotic locales. Some ports charge higher fees than others.
- Stateroom type: Cabins with better amenities such as large porthole windows or private verandah balconies are more expensive than inside staterooms which have no view
- Time of Year: More popular seasons such as the summer cost more than less popular times such as hurricane season
- Popularity of the ship: Newer ships often command higher prices due to increased demand (as well as updated amenities)
- Optional add-ons: Beyond the cruise fare, you can opt to do paid excursions in the different ports you visit, or do optional paid activities onboard the ship
Meals and some drinks are included
The price of a Disney Cruise includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, unlimited snacks, most non-alcoholic beverages, and even room service.
Breakfast and lunch are casual “come and go as you like” affairs, whereas dinner is a bit different.
Disney Cruise Line, unlike some other cruise lines, does not require you to make dinner reservations; instead, when you book your cruise, you’ll pick either an early or late dining time that you’ll have for the entirety of the cruise. Then, once onboard, you’ll be told which restaurant to dine at each night. Your table number will be the same each night, and your servers will be the same, too! Disney calls this “rotational dining.”
Of course, you’re not forced to take part… you’re free to skip out and go to one of the optional dining locations, whether it’s one of the restaurants offering open dinner seating, or one of the adult exclusive restaurants (reservations and upcharge required).
In addition to adult-exclusive dining, there are a few other cases where you’ll need to spend a little extra to eat or drink onboard. For example, there are optional dining events such as wine tastings; you can opt to buy specialty drinks or beer/wine packages; and alcoholic beverages themselves require a charge.
Plan ahead for necessary documents
One thing that will end your cruise before it even begins is not having proper documentation. Those who don’t have proper proof of identity/citizenship will not be allowed onboard the ship. And even if you do get onboard, if your documentation doesn’t meet the requirements of any countries you’re visiting you could be prevented from getting off the ship to explore.
Generally speaking, U.S. citizens do not need a passport to take a Bahamian cruise, but at the very least you’ll need a government-issued photo ID as well as a certified original copy of your birth certificate (no photocopies accepted). A passport is always the safest bet for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s the ONLY way to get home via air in the event you have an emergency mid-cruise. And if your cruise leaves from a non-U.S. port (or if you’re not a U.S. citizen), a passport will likely be mandatory. Given that processing times can be long, it’s best to research the requirements and make any necessary applications several months in advance of your trip.
Vaccinations are not required on Disney Cruises, and as of mid-November 2022 there’s no longer a need to show proof of a negative COVID test.