This post is specific to Disney Cruise Line photos and I realize that many of you may not have been on a Disney cruise and may not be contemplating one, but I didn’t see much information out there on the Internet about this topic so I thought I’d share my personal experience in case someone may benefit. If you’re interested in reading my Disney Cruise Photo Tip #1 about character photos, you can click on the link. Please note, I have no affiliation with Disney and I was not asked to write this post – it’s solely for informational purposes.
Just recently, my family and I boarded an Alaskan cruise on the Disney Wonder for a seven day trip. My husband, Photo Book Baby and I had cruised on the Disney Fantasy last Thanksgiving in the Caribbean at the invitation of our friends, so this was our second cruise with Disney. This time we asked our parents to join us to thank them for all the help they’ve given us with our little one. Alaska seemed to be the perfect destination as no one in our party had been there except for me about 12 years ago. My husband’s father wanted to check Alaska off his bucket list (he’s nearly visited all 50 states) and my parents had never been on a cruise ever, so we thought this would make for a great trip.
For me, vacations are all about making memories and I was very excited to have the opportunity to do my “photo excursions” in Alaska. I wrote earlier about my photographic preparations which you can check out if you’d like. On our last cruise, we didn’t purchase a photo package, but we did purchase a handful of photos that we liked. For this cruise, because all the grandparents were coming along, it made sense to take full advantage of the professional photography offered on the ship. I envisioned Photo Book Baby taking a number of photos with his grandparents throughout the cruise, and these making wonderful gifts for them and great keepsakes for us as well. This time around my husband and I decided that we would opt to buy one of the ship’s professional photo packages. We decided to buy the largest package for $399.95 which meant we’d get all the photos printed out as well as a digital version on a CD. Yes, it does sound kind of pricey doesn’t it? On the first cruise we went on, I didn’t think it was worth it, but this time around it seemed to make sense for us and it ended up being well worth it for us.
There are a few packages offered by Shutters (the name of the photo service provided by Disney as well as the physical location of the photo shop onboard). As of the writing of this post, here’s the options:
- 10 prints or 10 digital files: $149.95;
- 20 prints or 20 digital files: $249.95
- Digital files on disc of all photos taken: $349.95 (for an extra $50.00, so $399.95 total, you will get all the prints as well) (Note this is the price for a 7-day cruise, I read that it ranges from $229.95 for a 4-day, and then goes up accordingly based on the number of days you cruise.
The packages are priced per stateroom. If you are traveling with a large group, as long as someone from the stateroom for which you purchased the package is in the photo, it will be included in the package.
Individual photos can also be purchased:
- $19.95 for an 8 x 10;
- $12.95 for a 6 x 8.
So, is it worth it to buy a photo package? Here’s some considerations and tips to think about:
- You can wait until later in the cruise to decide whether you want a package or not, however if you buy a package and later decide you don’t want it because you didn’t like the photos, you can get a refund;
- You can also upgrade your package later if you decide you want more photos and it ends up being more economical to buy a package;
- Shutters prints out every photo that you have taken (even if your eyes are closed), so you will get to make the decision in the end whether you want it or not. If you’ve bought the biggest package that includes ALL the photos, then you’ll get ALL the photos. No need to choose!
- The photos are printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper;
- The photos on the disc are provided at a size that will allow you to reprint at the original size of the printed photos. The 8 x 10 pixel dimensions are 2400 x 3000 (so at 300dpi you can print out an 8 x 10). You could probably get away with a 10 x 13. The 6 x 8 pixel dimensions are 1800 x 2400. The salesperson in Shutters wasn’t able to tell me this info when I asked, but she said they would be of reasonable size for printing. If you’d like more tips on the best photo resolution for printing check out this post;
- The photos will all have either a decorative border on them or at a minimum a logo of the ship’s name. If you don’t like the borders, you could possibly crop it out or Photoshop the logo. I can’t say I liked all of the borders, but the logos weren’t bad;
- The photos on the disc will also have the borders. I believe at one time they did not from what I read on some Disney forums, but they definitely do now;
- Most of our printed photos were 8 x 10 in size. You cannot choose what size they are printed at. From what I could tell, most of the professional portraits (the ones not taken with a Disney character) were 8 x 10s. Only a few photos we received were 6 x 8;
- There are ample opportunities to have your photo taken on all kinds of backdrops including plain black and plain white backgrounds. I was fearing that all of the backdrops would be kind of cheesy (the sunset one, the one that looks like you’re on the deck, the one with a night scene of the ship). There’s nothing wrong with them, but it’s just personal taste. There’s plain backgrounds too, so let’s just say there’s something for everyone;
- Every day there are ample opportunities to have professional photos taken with characters and without. Character sessions vary every day with the popular characters like Mickey and Donald making more than one appearance per day and over several days in a week long cruise. Some of the less current characters like Peter Pan may only make one appearance. The schedule is provided the evening before so you can plan accordingly. Character appearances happen all day and into the night. For more tips on taking photos with the Disney characters, check out this post for details;
- For non-character photos, typically there are two to three different backdrops available for three sessions during the early evening through about 10:00pm at night so you have a lot of opportunities;
- You can also have your photo taken with the captain (the real one – not Mickey);
- In addition to the portrait sessions, there are roving photographers that will come take your photo at various nights during dinner (formal and semi-formal nights) and in various venues around the ship;
- There are props that you can use in your photos – like a life preserver and photo frame, but you can choose whether or not you want to use them;
- The photographers will suggest poses for you, but if you have your own, don’t hesitate to let the photographer know;
- We were told that there are special effects you can ask for that make you look like you’re sword fighting with Captain Hook or holding Tinkerbell, but when we asked the photographer, he said our little guy was too young 🙁 (Well, it’s probably true that our little guy probably couldn’t hold a pose for too long.)
- If your little one (or you for that matter) have a costume you’d like to wear – by all means bring it! We saw so many princesses and a few other Captain Hooks throughout the cruise. (By the way as of this sailing season, Pirate Night is no longer celebrated on the Disney Alaskan cruises – it’s been replaced with the Pixar Pals party.)
- If you plan to take a lot of photos, it may be a good idea to note down what backdrops or characters you took photos with that day so you don’t forget. Photos are usually available for viewing 5 hours after being taken. I would make a visit to Shutters each day and pull all the photos off the displays. I forgot about the last day of photos for some reason (I guess my brain was on vacation too!) but luckily I have them on disc. I am bummed that I forgot though! After you find your photos, you can buy what you like and put the photos you don’t intend to buy in a reject slot. If you buy the whole package you can take them with you, or let the staff store them for you where they can be kept for the duration of the cruise. I was told that doing so helps them go through to confirm they’ve added all your photos to your disc;
- On the Fantasy and Dream (the newer, larger ships, there is actually a box where your photos are kept, library style rather than being put on display like they are on the Wonder (and I would presume the Magic – prior to its scheduled remodeling). You just locate your photo box by number and you can view all your photos there;
- Photo kiosks are also available on the Wonder to view your photos digitally. The Fantasy and Dream have this whole interactive area where you can view your photos versus just the kiosks;
- The discs are ready either on the last night of the cruise or early morning before disembarkation. I thought I’d be able to check the disc before I left, but it requires you to download a program via the Internet. Internet on the ship is pricey, so I had to wait until I got home. I had no problems accessing and downloading all my photos, but it did take around 30 minutes;
- You can apparently buy your photos after the cruise but only within 6 weeks of your cruise and at a much higher cost ($25 for a single emailed jpeg). There’s no way to view the photos so you have to give your best description of it from memory. You also cannot buy all of your photos using this method so be sure to buy your photos during your cruise. I believe this is intended for passengers who regret not getting a photo or forgot – so it’s more of a last resort rather than a real option.
So, was it worth it? Well, we ended up with 130 photos. So, that comes out to about $3.00 per photo since we got the “all you can shoot” (similar to the “all you can eat” concept of a cruise!) We got so many adorable photos of Photo Book Baby as well as several nice family portraits, so yes it was definitely worth it. Although I didn’t like every picture, it was nice to not have to think about narrowing it down. Also, getting the photos on disc means I can print them anywhere including in a photo book, without having to scan the printed photos. Additionally, we really don’t buy much by way of souvenirs when we travel, save for a small trinket or two for Photo Book Baby. For me, photos are the best memorabilia to take home.
I thought that our group had done pretty well in terms of number of photos. When I went to pick up my disc, I asked the photographer if we were one of the more prolific groups, thinking that we surely had to be up there. I was feeling really great with a stack of over 100 photos to take with me. So what’s the record for most photos taken in one cruise? He told me the record was nearly 900 photos over a two-week cruise and that was for two people! A single couple (obviously very narcissistic!) managed to have nearly 900 photos taken of them. Apparently this was a personal challenge for them and every cruise they tried to best their prior record. Goodness gracious – these folks must have gone to every photo session possible many times over! I don’t think I could smile that much!
Well, I think I’ve exhausted every bit of info I could think of! I’d love to hear if you’ve been on a Disney cruise and what you thought of the photo packages.
*Please note, the information in this post is based on personal experiences on a 7-night cruise of the Western Caribbean in November 2012 on the Disney Fantasy and a 7-night Alaskan cruise on the Disney Wonder in June 2013. I believe the vast majority of the tips will be relevant, but there could be some differences based on itinerary. All info is current as of the date of this post. If you know of any changes, please feel free to comment and I will update.