Cruises are known for the copious amounts of “free” food available almost around the clock. I put the free in quotes because you pay for it in your cruise fare when you book your DCL vacation, but you won’t be charged for most food items once you board.
Ice Cream Floats
Frozen drinks on Disney Cruise Line will cost you money, even the non-alcoholic ones. If you like ice cream floats, then I have the perfect hack for you. Grab a cup from the complimentary soda fountain on the pool deck. Head over to the ice cream station and fill your cup about halfway – more or less to your liking. Then go back over to the soda fountain and fill with your favorite soda.
Coffee lovers can use this trick to make coffee floats too. Just be sure to add the ice cream to your cup first, then top with the hot coffee. This will help you avoid splashing accidents. Don’t ask how I know this.
A word of warning though: All Disney Cruise Line ships serve Coke products, but the selection of other beverages varies, and the port side fountain may have different sodas from the starboard side fountain. Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite are consistently available. Coke Zero, Orange Fanta and Barq’s Root Beer are a bit more hit and miss. If you can’t find them in the fountains, ask your server at dinner if they have any in the galley. They can give you a to-go cup if it’s available.)
Movie Time Snacks
Disney Cruise Line shows first-run movies in the Buena Vista Theatre, which is great when the weather isn’t cooperating or if you want a break from the sun. The snacks outside the theater, including the popcorn, are not complimentary.
We like to go up to the pool deck and get a few snacks from the counter service stands (or even Cabanas if it is open) and take it down to the movie theater. Did you know that if you ask for a plate of French fries, they will totally give you a plate of just fries? The mom in me feels compelled to say that there are fruit and salad items too, but we’re talking movie snacks here.
Grab your sodas from the self-serve poolside soda fountains because the drinks at the concession stand are not free either.
This little hack works for shows in the Walt Disney Theatre too, but since those are usually scheduled near mealtime anyway, we rarely take advantage of this practice.
Wandering With Drinks
I am not a big drinker, and when I do drink it can take me a good long while to finish once I start. This happened at dinner once, and my server politely let me know that I could take my glass of wine with me out of the dining room and finish it at my leisure, probably to hasten my exit from the dining room.
Now I am accustomed to very strict open container enforcement. Open container laws require you to finish a drink where you start it. However, there are no such restrictions on Disney Cruise Line, which made total sense once I thought about it.
You can grab a cocktail at any lounge and take it with you, so why not beverages you order at meals? I happened to take that glass of wine with me to the gift shops. Shopping on Disney Cruise Line is fun, so I am not sure if that was a good call or not, but I did get some great souvenirs. While this hack is free, it probably cost me some money.
Not All Food is Free on Disney Cruise Line
A little knowledge has the power to save you money. So, I want to quickly give you the rundown on what foods are not free.
- Signature dining at Remy and Palo
- Specialty coffee drinks
- Food purchased at the concession stand outside of the Buena Vista Theatre
- Ice cream shop candy and frozen treats (including Dole Whips)
- Snack items in the gift shops
- Candy and soda delivered by room service
While these dining options can be worth every penny in deliciousness and convenience, you really don’t need to spend a dime on these extras to have a wonderful cruise.