We’ve been visitors to the Disney Parks since 1998 and will never stop going. Raising an autistic teen who loves Disney is a powerful force in our lives that gets us to the Disney Parks without question. Our very first cruise with Disney was back in August of 2005, a land and sea which we figured was a smart way to visit Walt Disney World and sail on the Disney Wonder. We were right! I of course tacked on more land days at our Disney resort before and after the cruise making it a nice land/sea/land….it was fabulous. Since then, we’ve completed nine cruises and are proud Gold Castaway Club members with the tenth cruise in the near future. Most importantly, we’ve sailed all four ships in the fleet and love every one of them.
I would like to share my tips for saving some money, because the cruises, believe it or not cost as much as a typical Disney Parks vacation and in some cases much less.
Booking as far out as possible, will give you lower rates, a much better choice of dates and itineraries and a greater chance at scoring the stateroom you like. Disney Cruise Line offers rates as far out as a year and a half out, posted on their user friendly and incredibly fun website. There are many different categories of staterooms all offering Disney’s superior service and all at different price points.
Typically seventy-five days before sailing, and sometimes as late as twenty-one days before sailing, Disney will post ‘Restricted Guarantee Rates‘, which are very similar to the earliest booking rates. What happens with these rates is this:
-you select the category, not the location
-IGT are the inside staterooms
-OGT are the oceanview staterooms
-VGT are the verandah staterooms
-full cost of cruise must be paid upon booking
-all people in the party must be booked at the same time, with no changes
Roughly thirty days before sailing and even up to two weeks before, Disney will assign you your stateroom.
Rebooking While Sailing
Another way to save is rebooking while sailing on your current cruise. You can do this at the Future Cruise Bookings Desk, mid-ship, deck four near the Vista Café, Excursions Desk and the Disney Vacation Club Kiosk. The benefits of doing this is that you receive a 10% discount for up to two sailings, a shipboard credit ($100 for cruises 3-6 days in length and $200 for cruises 7 days or longer). You also have the luxury of booking a ‘dummy’ cruise to which you can figure out the exact dates once at home and then book it by calling Disney Cruise Line.
Re-shop While Onboard
If you have previously booked a cruise with Disney, you can re-shop this cruise when sailing again. Visit the Future Cruise Bookings Desk and speak to the Cast Member who will rebook that cruise for a better rate. This is not guaranteed, but very well worth looking into.
Special Offers on the Disney Cruise Line Website
Disney Cruise Line offers many special offers throughout the year. The many special offers that I have seen are when children sail for free, discounted percentage offers, special offers for select ports. Disney also offers Special Military Rates and Florida Resident rates. Those are always very favorable and worth looking into.
Book a Back to Back Cruise
Some of the ships offer shorter cruises at great rates. What I’ve done in the past is put two cruises, on the same ship, back to back. I’ve booked a three night cruise followed by a four night cruise giving me a longer sailing at a very good price. If you book far enough ahead, you’ll even be able to book the same stateroom and when one cruise is finished you won’t have to pack. At the end of the first cruise, simply disembark (be sure to bring your travel documents and identification) and the Cast Members will direct you accordingly. What often happens is that you pass through U.S. Customs and then are directed back into the cruise terminal. There you’ll wait for a bit and then you’ll be allowed to re-board. Sometimes your stateroom host will let you back into your stateroom to rest and I usually take this time to do laundry, when there are virtually no passengers onboard. I also take this time to take photographs and it really feels as if the ship is all yours. It’s neat.
Discussion Board and Podcast Cruises
Many social media discussion boards and podcasts will host special cruises, where they have blocked out a certain number of rooms at a discounted offer. Not only will you get to meet your friends but you’ll sail at a great rate!
Expedia and Travelocity
Sometimes, at about six months before sailing I have seen discounted rates through these sites. Very well looking into.
Banking your Disney Visa points can go towards future cruises. Disney Visa will also offer a $50 onboard booking credit as well as some special offers.
Lower Category Staterooms
All staterooms with Disney Cruise Line are luxurious and all have the same stellar service. They do come in various categories such as inside staterooms, ocean view staterooms, verandah staterooms and concierge level staterooms and are priced accordingly. The lower category staterooms are the inside and ocean view. Many inside stateroom aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy offer the ‘Magical Porthole’ windows, offering real time feed from the exterior of the ship, making you feel as if you’re in an ocean view stateroom.
Lower Rate Times of the Year
Cruise prices are historically lower during:
-last week of August into September
-first half of December
Do not be intimidated by booking on your own through the Disney Cruise Line website. It’s very easy to navigate and a lot of fun. Through the Planning Center you are prompted to book excursions, special dining, spa treatments and the like. You’ll get notification when to do what. You can even pay down your cruise a little at a time. They guide you through the process step by step and it’s very easy.