April 9, 2014

All-Inclusive* - Beyond the Asterisk

Disney Cruise Line is all about the "All-Inclusive*" Disney vacation experience.
What on earth does that exactly mean?
What is included in "All-Inclusive*" vacations?
Why do you keep using that asterisk?

"All-Inclusive" means that you could theoretically get away without spending a single dime once you've paid the initial cost* and boarded the ship.
*Plus any ground transfers, pre- or post-stay hotel reservations, port parking, airfare and trip insurance.

Minimally, please budget for gratuities! The standard gratuity of $12 per passenger per night of cruise will be automatically added to your account. This tip will be divided amongst your dining room server, assistant server, head server and your stateroom host. If you wish to add to this tip for exceptional service, either adjust the tips at the guest services desk anytime during your cruise or else add cash to the envelopes left in your stateroom.

What is Included:

1.) All Food*
This includes as much in the way of breakfast, lunch and dinner (even dessert!) as you want. Room service, quick service, buffet and sit down meals are all included every day (port or sea day) for the duration of the cruise. Snacks offered around the ship in the lounges are included. Even lunch on Castaway Cay is included! Mickey bars from room service?

Breakfast with Goofy? Included*
*Exclusively offered on the Magic and the Wonder on longer cruises.
Character breakfasts are included but only offered on the Magic and Wonder on longer sailings with at least three sea days.
Also included. Everything you would want to eat for the entire cruise is included.
*Except snack bar items (prepackaged candy and popcorn either outside the theatre or ordered from room service), tips for room service, adults only dining at either Palo or Remy, and the Royal Court Royal Tea aboard the Disney Fantasy. Also not included, any meals on your way to or from the ship as well as when you are off of the ship in any port except Castaway Cay.

2.) All Drinks*
All the coffee, tea, sodas, juice or milk (even soy varieties) you care to drink in the dining rooms!
All the coffee, tea, milk or juice you care to order from 24 hour room service!

The Royal Treatment
Feeling civilized while drinking a cup of Twinings at breakfast? Included. 

All the coffee, tea, water or soda you care to pick up at the 24 hour drink station on the pool deck!
All the soda or water you care to pick up at the soda station on Castaway Cay!
*Exceptions apply:  Anything you order from a passing waiter at the pool or in a club will have a price. Any specialty drinks and smoothies (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) will have a price, whether ordered at dinner or on the go. Any coffee drink handled by a barista at the café will have a price tag similar to Starbucks. Soda (in cans) and water (in bottles) delivered via room service will have a price. Tastings (martini, beer, wine, etc.) are not included and you need to reserve these ahead of time at Guest Services.

3.) All Entertainment*
Broadway style shows, variety entertainers, animation classes, Art of the Theme tours, movie premiere events, pools, fitness center, karaoke, live music, dance parties, deck parties and adult only events.

5K? Included! T-shirt? Not included!
On Castaway Cay, the loungers, hammocks, crab racing, a separate on shore kids club and even the 5K is included! For the kids 3-17, the Oceaneer Club, Oceaneer Lab, Edge (tween club) and Vibe (teen club) and all their activities are included! Meet and greets with your favorite Disney characters around the ship are included and often the helpful cast member acting as their friend (escorting the character) would be more than happy to take a photo with your own camera or phone or let mom or dad do the honors.
*For (not yet potty-trained) any cruiser under 3, the nursery allows pre-booking of pay by the hour play time while their parents are free to explore the ship. Spa treatments are not included. Laundry (if you must do it) is not free, but the machines take your room key and detergent is also for sale. Port Adventures (the Disney term for excursions) are not included. Cabanas on Castaway Cay are sadly an arm and a leg. Bingo is played with real money for real cash prizes. The ARR-cade does not run on pixie dust alone. If you join an FE group, expect to budget for those gifts as well.
Any cute customized kids clothes you buy for the trip?
Sadly not included.

Tiltshift Fun
But they're so cute!
If you choose to buy the photos in Shutters or purchase some Mickey Ear hats, pins or indulge in some shopping in the gift shops or in port, those are (I hope, obviously) not included.

Why do you keep using that asterisk?
What can I say? I really, really love asterisks*.
*Although it is very possible to only spend the initial costs, travel costs and gratuities and enjoy a perfect vacation, I find most of my friends want a realistic look at what and where they might choose to add to their budget to personalize. For example, one of my dear friends (who shall remain nameless) was on a first name basis with the barista by late the afternoon of boarding. He has a serious Starbucks habit. He went into it eyes wide open, knowing that he paid for each of his Frappuccinos rather than getting a rude awakening on reviewing the bill at the end of his cruise. (Also he picked up the café buy five get one free card to help subsidize his need for caffeine.) I'm using the asterisk as a way to shed light on things you might love to try but might need to add into your budget before you hit the high seas.

What do you make sure to include in your cruise budget?
If you'll excuse me, I'm off to save up for a cabana on Castaway Cay!


  1. Great tips!! Thank you for sharing :)

  2. Great tips! I love cruising and can't wait for our next one. Thanks for sharing:)


A comment? How magical!


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