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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Budgeting For A Disney Cruise--Part 2

In Part 1 of Budgeting for a Disney Cruise, I covered costs for Planning, Getting There and Back, Entertainment/Activities, Lodging, and Food—click here to read Part 1.

In Part 2, I will tackle other categories for expenses such as souvenirs, photos, access to Internet or connectivity, tipping, and possible deposits on future travel. And, while these categories may or may not cover all the potential costs of a Disney Cruise, I think they at least hit the biggest categories.

Souvenirs—This potential expense category has a lot of leeway and can be adjusted based on your budget. For us, souvenirs would include Christmas tree ornaments, a piece of artwork, and any pins we might purchase—click here to read about what we collect. We also bring home a few items to share with others and those expenses fall in this category.

Having kids can potentially skyrocket the expenses for souvenirs, but we give the boy a set amount to spend and then he has to decide what is most important. We have seen parents promise their child(ren) a new item each day of the crui$e. We also limit our spending on souvenirs in ports, unless it fits into the “what we collect” category.

Photos—Again, this is an expense category that can be flexible depending on your budget. Purchasing photos on board can be expensive, but bundled packages are available that make purchasing a bit more economical. Then there are the photos/videos that might be available for purchase during Port Adventures or Shore Excursions. Do you want that photo with the dolphin? If so, it will cost you. Plan ahead for picture purchases so that you aren’t caught off guard by the cost. I have also found that some Port Adventures—such as Blue Lagoon in Nassau will allow you to purchase that coveted dolphin photo later when you get home. Just check out the web-site, enter the date/time of the excursion and look for your photo. I would even ask if there are discounts available if you decide to purchase a photo or video when you get back home. Or check your shore excursion provider if there is an opportunity to purchase later. You might be surprised.

For us, this is the category where I lose all resolve to be frugal. Try as I might, I just can’t resist purchasing a photo package on board, and I am already saving for the Photo CD that is available for purchase on board the ship. (I caught of glimpse of the price from a video on the Inaugural Cruise and it was $250—much more than the Photopass pre-order price of $99 for your pics in the parks.) My rationale is that if I purchase the photo CD on board, any other photos I want to purchase—as the photo CD doesn’t have the cool photo borders—will be offered to me at a reduced price. Sounds like a deal doesn’t it!!??!! And, yes, we have purchased the dolphin photos after a shore excursion. We knew ahead of time, so it wasn’t a huge surprise. The clue is when it says “no cameras” in the description of the Port Adventure—this typically means that photos will be taken that you can later purchase.

Access to Internet or Connectivity—With today’s travelers wanting to keep up with all the latest news, paying for internet service while on board or wireless phone service becomes part of their travel expenses. Again, this could be a category for expenses that can vary depending on budget and priorities.

We have yet to pay for internet service on a cruise. We also don’t use our cell phones unless we are near a U.S. Port or shore. Prior to our unlimited nation wide plan, we would pay an addition $10 for 100 roaming minutes prior to travel. This small fee kept us from being shocked by a cell phone bill with roaming charges. That happened to us once, and gratefully our cell phone company allowed us to pay the $10 and made it retroactive, eliminating the roaming charges. Whew! Know your cell phone plan and plan accordingly.

Because may people use their cell phones or other wireless devices to tell the time and it is difficult to use the device for time telling unless turned on and potentially receiving calls/texts/messages, etc. we recommend having a watch on board—click here to read more.

Tipping—While tipping can be much more discretionary on a land vacation, tipping is traditional and expected on a cruise. Tipping expectations vary by cruise line. I have found a neat web-site that allows you to calculate tips for your cruise so you can plan accordingly. Just enter the cruise line, number of people, and number of days cruising and it will automatically figure your tipping totals—click here for the site. Remember that children count, too, and tips are expected to include them. Our minimum tipping for our upcoming cruise is $180 for our cruise staff. Now, add on any luggage handling, room service, Port Adventure providers, etc.

Before we travel, we make sure we have plenty of five dollar bills and one dollar bills. The 5’s we use to tip luggage handlers. I often give them to the husband before hand and he puts them in the front pockets of his pants—allowing for a smooth tipping exchange. The 1’s we use for room service delivery—typically tipping $2 per delivery. Tipping Port Adventure providers can vary.

It is not customary to tip kids club counselors, but we did purchase pre-paid phone cards and gave those to the kids club counselors. They used the cards to phone family during port stops.

Deposits on Future Travel—Disney Cruise line would like it if you rebook your next Disney Cruise during your Disney Cruise. They would like that so much that they make special offers that may include a discounted cruise price, reduced deposit, and on-board credits for your next cruise. This is an area of your budget that can vary depending on priorities.

Yes, this is in our cruise budget and we will take advantage of the savings. If you plan to rebook on board, I highly recommend doing this early in your cruise. We have seen guests waiting quite some time to talk to the future cruise booking agent.

The future cruise booking agent typically has a desk or station in a more public area of the cruise ship. Guests can find pamphlets requesting quotes for future cruises or attend a future cruise session listed in the Personal Navigator—click here to read about Personal Navigators.

I have gone to the future cruise booking sessions—did that the first time. The second time, I just grabbed the pamphlet, wrote down some information including when we would like to cruise, name, current stateroom number, etc. and dropped it in the box near the desk. By later that day, a note was left at our stateroom along with a message on our stateroom phone with the quotes for any cruises I had asked for and deposit amounts. I phoned the agent, booked the cruise, had the deposit deducted from our on-board account, and had the booking credited to our travel agent. She knew we had rebooked before we even left the ship!

Not rebooking our next cruise was the only thing we regretted not doing on our very first Disney Cruise. Since then, we have wised up and smelled the savings!

While we haven’t sailed on any other cruise lines, we understand from hearing/reading about others, that there are some significant Disney differences that make a difference in costs. . .

• Port fees—Disney puts those in the cost of your cruise up front. Other cruise lines don’t and guest end up paying additional fees for getting off the ship in ports.

• Soda/Beverages—other than specialty drinks and alcohol, beverages are included in the cost of your cruise with Disney. Other cruise lines charge or have you purchase a punch card to be used to purchase sodas or other beverages.

• Restaurants—Disney offers 3 signature restaurants that are included in the cost of your cruise. Other cruise lines charge to eat at restaurants other than the buffets. Yes, Disney does have 1-2 other restaurants on board that charge an additional fee for adults who want to take advantage of that service.

• Kids Club/Nursery—While Disney does charge an hourly fee for the nursery, all the other kids’ activities are included in the cost of your cruise. Other cruise lines charge for this service or don’t offer services for children.

All in all, a Disney Cruise can be in line, cost wise, with a land based vacation and still offer flexibility in the budget. Even frugal me—okay cheap me—can find the savings!

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