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Saturday, August 30, 2014

What To Do About Photos On a Disney Cruise?!?

Some of the questions that puzzle guests both prior to or when sailing on a Disney ship are about photos—how many?  How much?  Etc.  And, they are the same questions we have pondered during our seven year/six cruise history with Disney Cruise Line.  So, let’s see if I can help.
A Lifestyle portrait
Do you have to have your photo taken by ship’s photographers?  There is only one photo required and that is the photo taken by a Cast Member when you check in at the port.  The Cast Member will hold up a webcam like device and snap a photo of your entire party all at once.  Those photos are then linked to your Key To The World card for identification purposes.  Other than that, NO, you do not have to have your photo taken.
A special background just for Pirate Night
Will ship’s photographers take photos with my camera?  Yes and No.  It all depends on what types of photos they are taking.  Are you meeting a character?  Then yes, there is usually a Cast Member/character handler nearby that will be happy to assist with your camera.  Getting formal portraits taken in front of a backdrop?  No.  Ship cameras only.  Now, while the backdrops will be picked up and put away, you can take a photo in front of ship icons such as helmsman Mickey anytime—as long as formal photos aren’t being taken at the same time, that is.
Sometimes there are props available during photo sessions
How do I see/select photos taken by ship’s photographers?  Well, this depends on what ship you are sailing on.  If sailing on the Wonder/Magic, your photos will be on display at Shutters and then you decide if you are purchasing them or not.  On the Fantasy/Dream, the photos are put inside a Folio and each stateroom is assigned a Folio based on a color, Disney character, and number.  Green, Mickey, 25 has been our Folio number at least one cruise.  Anytime Shutters is open, we can view the photos in our Folio.  But, if Shutters is closed, we can find a digital kiosk or even the digital Studio on the Fantasy, scan our Key to the World Card and view all of our photos—as photographers can your Key to the World Card.
An example of a photo taken in one of the restaurants.
What if I want to purchase?  If you want to purchase photos, there are several print packages to select from—starting with single print purchases all the way to all print purchases.  Single 8X10 photos are about $21.00.  Another option is the photo book.  I believe the magic number is 34 photos that can be included in the photo book that can be ordered and made at Shutters on the ship.  There can be a deadline for ordering the photo book, so be sure to inquire.  Another purchase option is the photo CD.  Prices vary depending on the length of the cruise.  The photo CD will have all the photos taken that are attached to your stateroom and do include the special borders.  Click here to go to a website that offers price information as well as a way to pre-order—typically at adiscount.
Most single character photos come in 6X8 size.
Sometimes the photos are a different size than I want, can I change the sizes?  The photos taken by ships’ photographers are either 8X10 or 6X8.  The size is pre-determined.  For example, a formal family portrait will be 8X10, but most character photos will be 6X8—though there are some exceptions.  Unfortunately, guests cannot request that a photo taken as an 8X10 be changed into a 6X8 or vice versa.  The only way to adjust the size is to purchase the photo CD and then change the size when you print photos at home or order on-line prints through another vendor such as Walgreens or Shutterfly.
Photo taken while boarding the ship
When are photos taken?  Typically, photos begin prior to even boarding the ship with a photographer on-hand at the port terminal taking pictures with characters.  Then there is the pre-boarding photo.  After that, ship photographers can be seen at most character meet and greets that are listed in the daily Navigator.  Ship photographers can also be found taking formal and lifestyle photos prior to dinner—both seatings.  You can also find photographers roaming restaurants, positioned on Castaway Cay, and roaming Castaway Cay to capture your memories.  Just a caution to not wait until the last minute to decide if you want your family’s pictures taken.  On our must recent 7-night sailing on the Disney Fantasy, photography services ended Friday at noon—which was Castaway Cay day.  So, any photos taken the last night were only by personal cameras—and trust me, there were still character meet and greets along with lots of other activities around the ship.  The service stopped so that Shutters could prepare photo books and photo CD’s. 
Meet Minnie at the Port Terminal
Oh, the stories I could tell about watching guests agonize over photo purchases on the last night of the cruise.  And, with a price tag of over $20 a pop for a single picture, I can understand.  Our first cruise, we did not purchase any photos—something we regret to this day.  On our second Disney cruise, I sprang for a photo package.  Our third cruise, I again purchased a photo package, but upgraded it to the package with the most photos by the time our cruise had ended.  Since then, we have purchased the photo CD from Shutters.  The sticker price can be a bit much—but let’s do the math.  The photo CD for our 7 night sailing was $399.95 (If we had pre-purchased it would have saved $50.)  I had a photo voucher from our travel agent as a gift that saved us $100, so the CD ended up costing us $299.95.  We had 275 photos on that CD.  That’s a little more than $1 per photo.  Buying the photo CD is one of our top tips for prospective cruisers.

The number of photos you have taken will vary depending on whether or not your family or traveling party wants to be photographed.  For us, it is a priority and can be fun.  When I got wind that there weren’t going to be photos taken Friday night, we re-arranged our schedule Thursday night.  It was semi-formal night and we had photos taken before dinner.  After eating, we changed our clothes and had photos taken again prior to going to the show.  We did wear those same clothes again the next night, but not a problem as we only had them on for a couple of hours.  But we wanted the photos!
One of my favorites!

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