Disney Cruise Line extras: Which experiences are worth the splurge on your vacation?

in Disney, Disney Cruise Line

Disney offers a variety of vacations to suit every interest, and Disney Cruise Line vacations offer unforgettable experiences for all ages. While many Disney fans and frequent vacationers choose Disney Cruise Line for their all-inclusive vacation feel, there are some experiences that come at an extra cost. We’re breaking down the most popular extra costs aboard Disney Cruise Line to help you decide what you should skip and what is worth the splurge.

Dining at Palo and Remy

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Most of your dining experiences are included in a Disney Cruise Line vacation, but there are two adults-only restaurants that will cost you extra, should you decide to eat there. Much like with the signature dining experience at Walt Disney World, advanced dining reservations are highly recommended for both Palo and Remy. You also have to adhere to a dress code when dining at these restaurants.

Palo is the adults-only restaurant on each of the four Disney Cruise Line ships. It will cost you an extra $40 per person for brunch or dinner, and an extra $99 per person if you choose to do the wine pairing option with dinner. The restaurant itself is themed after Northern Italy with elegant Disney touches, and it comes highly recommended by most Disney Cruise Line guests.

Remy is the most luxurious of the two, and the most expensive. At an extra cost per person, this restaurant is only on two of the four Disney Cruise Line ships: the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy. Inspired by Disney and Pixar’s “Ratatouille,” Remy serves upscale French fare with a dinner menu presented by a chef who boasts three Michelin stars. The cost to dine at Remy varies, so here’s the price breakdown from the official Disney Cruise Line website:

  • Dinner: $125 dining charge per person
  • Remy Champagne Brunch: $75 charge per person; $30 additional charge per person when adding the Champagne pairing
  • Remy Dessert Experience: $60 charge per person; $25 additional charge per person when adding the wine pairing
  • Petites Assiettes de Remy: $50 charge per person (includes a wine pairing with each course)
    • This event can only be booked onboard
  • Remy Wine Pairing Experience: $105 charge per person

Is it worth it? Yes. Whether you choose to dine at Palo or Remy, we doubt you will regret your experience. The food included in your Disney Cruise Line vacation is delicious, and I’ve never had a bad experience with one of the servers. But the main dining rooms seat hundreds, and despite their best efforts there is no matching the personalization available in a more intimate setting. Additionally, the opportunities the chefs have to delight guests in Palo or Remy is a step above what you will find elsewhere on the ship. Take a look at this tableside fish being filleted tableside as an example of the type of experience you will encounter.

So if you love the standard rotational dining aboard ship (and who doesn’t) you will adore dining at Palo or Remy even more. If splurging on an incredibly fancy meal aboard the Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy is in your budget, we’d choose Remy over Palo. But if you’re trying not to spend too much, we’d opt for Palo and skip the wine pairings.

Spa and salon treatments

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For those who want their vacations to be the most relaxing they can be, a spa or salon treatment may be worth the extra cost. Senses Spa is located on each of the Disney Cruise Line ships and provides guests with full-service salon and spa treatments, just as the other Disney spas do. But what makes the spas aboard Disney Cruise Line unique is the Rainforest Room, where guests on Disney ships can experience a relaxing treatment inspired by the rainforests of the world.  Plus, you can even experience spa treatments at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.

Is it worth it? Yes. We believe spa and salon treatments are worth the extra splurge because of the wide variety of options fit for every interest and budget. While treatments like a couple’s massage will cost you more than just a pretty penny, experiences like the Rainforest Room and scalp treatment come at more affordable rates. Be sure to visit Senses Spa & Salon aboard your ship to ask about treatments in your budget. You may be surprised by how accessible it may be!

Port Adventures

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Port Adventures are shore excursions that have been specifically selected by Disney Cruise Line to enhance your vacation experiences on the days when your ship is at port. There are a variety of Port Adventures to choose from, but the main reason many guests decide to purchase Port Adventures is because of the convenience. Disney writes on the official Disney Cruise Line website that when you book a Port Adventure with Disney Cruise Line instead of with a third party, you avoid the uncertainty of navigating unfamiliar ports and the hassle of negotiating excursion fees and dealing with currency exchange.

When booking Port Adventures through Disney Cruise Line, you can also book Port Adventures after your board the your ship, if you choose to do so. You don’t have to book all of your Port Adventures before embarkation or once you arrive at each port. Instead, you can book at the Port Adventures desk on your ship.

Is it worth it? It depends. Because Port Adventures vary significantly in price and experience, some excursions may be more worth it than others. And if you’re traveling with a large group, it may not be worth it to purchase excursion packages for every person in your party. A frequent stop of many Disney Cruise guests is Castaway Cay, and there you have the option to rent a bike, which I think epitomizes the “it depends” answer. The first time I experienced Castaway Cay, this experience was a pass for me as I wanted to maximize beach and ocean fun in my limited hours. But if you are lucky enough to visit Castaway Cay multiple times in your life, the bike ride gives you a whole new appreciation for the island as its larger than I expected (as illustrated in the video below taken while riding around the island) with Disney’s trademark hidden details sprinkled throughout the island.

Hello from Castaway Cay – Disney’s private island in the Bahamas #disneycruise Destinations To Travel

Posted by Inside the Magic on Thursday, January 10, 2019

While we recommend booking Port Adventures through Disney rather than a third party, we also suggest reviewing the list of Port Adventures on the Disney Cruise Line website prior to arrival and factoring the potential cost of the excursions into your budget before embarkation.

Photo Packages

Disney Cruise Line offers Photo Packages for guests aboard each of the ships. These Photo Packages are a lot like Memory Maker at Walt Disney World: Disney photographers will be throughout the ship and ports of call to take your family’s photos throughout the duration of your Disney Cruise Line vacation, and you can purchase a Photo Package so you can have downloads, prints, or a book filled with your vacation memories. You can purchase a Photo Package up to two days before you board the ship. Once you’re on the ship, you can use the Disney Cruise Line mobile app to see where each photographer is located.

Is it worth it? Probably not. While I’m a big fan of Walt Disney World’s Memory Maker package because there are picture opportunities are around every corner the same can’t be said aboard the cruise. Photographers are found much less frequently aboard the ship, and as a result you will have fewer pictures and I found the pictures to be less important to me. For instance, you can find the Disney Cruise photographers at character meet and greets (no different than the park), occasionally at dinner, and a few other staged areas, but you won’t find them capturing those fun moments  on the AquaDuck or around the rest of the ship. So instead of the photo package, ask the Disney photographers to take your photo using your own camera or phone at no additional cost. That means you can have as many photos as you want using your own device.

Planning a Disney Cruise Line vacation?

Planning a vacation can be overwhelming, especially if you’re planning a Disney vacation. What travel dates are the best for you? What type of restaurants are you wanting to try? Do you want to save money or are you willing to splurge? What experiences do you want to have? There are so many questions that you’ll have to ask yourself when planning a Disney Cruise Line vacation, and an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner can help. We always recommend Academy Travel for all of your vacation planning needs. Click here for a no-obligation quote so you can chat with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner about your next Disney Cruise Line experience.

Have you ever splurged on extra experiences on a Disney Cruise Line vacation? Let us know in the comments!