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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shutters on the Disney Dream

With four Disney cruises under our belts, we have had our fair share of experiences with ship’s photographers.  On our most recent Disney cruise aboard the Disney Dream, we were impressed, even amazed, with the service and amenities provided to us by the ship’s photographers that radiate from Shutters.

Shutters is the official name and location for photographic activity aboard each of the Disney ships.  Shutters aboard the Dream is located on Deck 4 midship, overlooking the Lobby Atrium. 

Guests are welcome in Shutters at almost any time and can find their portfolio—where prints of all photos taken are stored-- which is designated by a Disney character, a color, and a number.  We were green Mickey, Number 75.  We found the kiosk designated by Mickey at the top, the green row of portfolios, and then portfolio number 75.  Sure enough, our photos were there. . . all of them.  The photo portfolios are stateroom specific and about an inch or so thick—with the pocket on the right side when you open, so be careful.  More than once we saw guests get their portfolio and then dump all the photos when opening it. (Note—our portfolio was filled twice with prints of various photos and when I emptied it, the Shutters’ staff held the prints behind the counter in a stack for me until the end of the cruise.)

Guests can also find their photos taken by ship photographers at any of the digital photo kiosks located throughout the ship.  Just tap your Key to the World card—also your room key—to get started using the touch screen.

Most of the time, the photographer will ask for your Key to the World card to slide through their computer machine to designate the pictures to your stateroom.  Other times, the face recognition technology that is now a part of the enhanced Shutters experience aboard the Dream will allow photos to end up in your stateroom’s portfolio.

Ship’s photographers can be found almost anywhere, but usual location include character meet and greets, portrait sessions held in the evenings in the Lobby Atrium, near the pools, in the restaurants in the evening, at Castaway Cay, and even in the water at Castaway Cay!

When I told the husband that I was going to be writing about Shutters, he said that there would be pros and cons.  I asked him to think of some cons.  He couldn’t.  And, I had a difficult time, too.  Rather than pros and cons, I’ll include what we did and what we learned:

  • We purchased the Shutters photo CD.  I had budgeted around $300 for photos on our cruise, so when the price was $249, I was pleased.  I made the purchase the first night on board, but wasn’t able to get the CD until disembarkation morning.  This is because all purchases, including photo packages are fully refundable, should you change your mind.
  • A black and white print out of thumb nails of the prints was included in the envelope containing the photo CD.  This helped to delay gratification of actually seeing the pictures on the CD until we got home!
  • Since we had already purchased the photo CD, I let the photographers know that when it came time to take pictures.  They seemed to appreciate knowing that ahead of time and could snap away.  We also took fewer photos with our camera when ship’s photographers were available.
  • Know that the pictures that come on the photo CD do not have the decorative boarders with specific dates, etc.  To get those, you have to purchase specific prints.
  • After you purchase the photo CD, any prints that you purchase, including print packages are half price! 
  • So, in addition to the photo CD, I also purchased the lowest priced print package—to get photos with boarders, etc.  I paid HALF!
  • You can get an on-line copyright release for photos that you purchase at Shutters.  Click here for the link.
  • Photo CD’s are stateroom specific.  That means if you have people in more than 1 stateroom, you have to purchase more than 1 photo CD.  (You see, sometimes guest change the sleeping arrangements when booking more than one stateroom and this is one example of when things go haywire when that happens.)
  • Prints come in two sizes:  8 X 10 and 6 X 8.  If the photo taken was meant to be an 8 X 10 print, you will not be able to have it remade into a smaller print or vice versa when purchasing the prints at Shutters. 
  • You will have a difficult time finding 6 X 8 frames.  Trust me on this.  So, I don’t know why the prints come in that size, but since our first cruise in 2007, it has been the same story.  Solution:  I purchase a large frame—say 18 X 20 and put multiple 6 X 8 prints inside.  An 18 X 16 frame will fit six of the 6 X 8 prints perfectly!
  • You can purchase cameras and camera supplies at Shutters along with prints.  On one of our cruises, I asked them to download the pictures I had already taken on my camera to a disc.  The price was steep—around $16, but it was before we could get our hands on 8 GB SD cards!
  • You can also have holiday cards made year round at Shutters with photos taken on the ship.
  • We took advantage of various portrait options each night before dinner.  I say before dinner, as inevitably someone would spill something, so we were much more camera ready as a family before dinner than after.
  • The photo CD comes with the original images, print ready images, and copyright releases.  And, can still be edited by changing the “Read Only” status.
  • The photo taking opportunities begin at the Port Terminal when characters appear along with ship’s photographers and continue through the pre-boarding photo taken just before boarding the ship.

What I am continually amazed by is the struggle people have when deciding whether or not to purchase photos and then which photos when the first dilemma is solved.  I watched people agonize over photo purchases, but not flinch at the purchase of a $45 sweatshirt or other souvenir.

My personal philosophy and bias is showing here, and I think I have written this before, but I have yet to see family vacation photos sold at garage sales, but I have seen vacation merchandise and souvenirs sold at garage sales, on e-bay, etc.  The memories the photos hold will never be “outgrown” or “wear out” over the course of time.  For us, the photo purchase was a priority.  We budgeted for the purchase and planned to take advantage of photo opportunities.  And, anyone who has priced a professional photo session near your home—on land—would be pleasantly surprised with the prices that I paid and the quality/quantity of photos I brought home. 

Over the course of our cruises, my relationship with Shutters and the ship’s photographers has changed; similarly to my changing relationship with Disney Photopass photographers in the parks—click here to read more. 

On our first cruise, we had some photos taken, but didn’t purchase any.  On our second cruise, I purchased a punch card that could be used to purchase so many prints—8 X 10’s took 2 punches, 6 X 8’s cost one punch.  There were two more prints I wanted, so I purchased those separately when my punches were all gone.  On our third cruise, I purchased a photo package, upgraded to another package with more points, and then upgraded again before the end of the week-long cruise, just paying the price difference in the packages each time.  I wanted more pictures and needed more points!  The cost of the photo CD during that cruise was $399, and I just couldn’t justify the cost.  The price of the photo CD on our last cruise--$249—was right!

The service we received was incredible.  One of the Cast Members working at Shutters—Grace—recognized us from our last cruise on the Disney Magic.  My relationship with Shutters and ship’s photographers is solidified and I look forward to fantastic photos on our next, and 5th, Disney cruise!


  1. what happens if you take a picture with another family? will they put that on your CD?

    1. The photographers attach the photos to the account per room based on the Key to The World card that is scanned at the time the photo(s) are taken. So, if another family scanned their card, the photo will go into their account and on their CD if purchased. You can certainly ask the photographer to take multiple photos and scan multiple Key to the World cards if time permits.
      Hope that helps!

  2. Do we get the photo right away after we purchase the package or do we need to wait until at the end of the cruise to receive it?

    You said that the photo packages are fully refundable in case we change our mind. Is that mean that after we purchase we still can return or exchange with different photo?


    1. Good questions!
      After purchasing a photo package, guests can begin selecting the photos that they want to keep and yes, taking them from Shutters.
      If a guest finds a better photo later in the cruise, then they can exchange a photo that they have acquired already as a part of their package.
      If a guest purchases a photo package and then discovers that there were not enough photos that they want, the package is refundable OR if a guest wants to upgrade their package to the next package because there were too many photos they liked, they can just purchase the difference between their current photo package and the upgraded package.
      Our recommendation--buy the photo CD and do it at the beginning of the cruise.

  3. Thanks so much for the answer :) Glad I found your blog, lots of info here

    1. You are so welcome! Thank you for reading the Williams Family Blog.

  4. Thank you so much for this! You're line about not ever seeing family photos for sale at garage sales really got to me. I've been debating whether to purchase the picture package on our upcoming Fantasy cruise since it seems so expensive, but you're right, compared to overpriced souvioners that will be forgotten about soon, the price for pictures is not that much. I have many photo albums, photo books, and scrapbooks of our son and have yet to regret a dime spent on them, so I don't know why I've been debating this so much. Yes, the Disney cruise is expensive enough as it is, but I know I will regret if I don't get the pictures. :-)

    By the way, you have a beautiful family!