Are you considering a Disney Cruise Line vacation? Before 2020, it was virtually unheard of to sail on Disney cruise ships at a discounted rate. Now, however, there are more opportunities to find rates that meet your budget. What else should you consider? One of the most important aspects of choosing a Disney cruise is knowing when its the best time to sail. Let’s dive in to the discussion of the best time to go on a Disney cruise.
Best Time to Go on a Disney Cruise
First of all, just like any other vacation, take my recommendations with a grain of salt. When it comes down to it, your options for vacation may be limited by time, budget, or any other number of factors. My suggestions are meant to help you maximize your time and budget, but they may not work for everyone. Use my recommendations and adapt them as you see fit.
The best time to go on a Disney cruise is when your time and budget allow for it. Considering a Disney Cruise for the first time? Start with a four night cruise. Caribbean cruises are the perfect itinerary for your first time, especially because most of them include a stop at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay. You will have a better chance of having a great time if you choose a cruise that will show you how unique and exciting a Disney cruise can be.
How to Get a Lower Price on a Disney Cruise
As previously stated, pre-2020, it was virtually unheard of for a Disney cruise fare to be discounted. Other cruise lines are known for giving significant discounts or perks, such as onboard credits, but now some Disney ships and itineraries are are being offered at a discounted rate.
Booking with a travel agent is a good idea because they can keep an eye on discounts for you. Also, consider booking your sailing as far in advance as possible because they closer you get to your sail date, the higher the pricing will be. Disney Visa credit card holders can also receive special perks when booking a Disney cruise. Check out the Disney Rewards website for more information on those perks.
Another way to find a lower price on a Disney cruise vacation is through special rates for Florida residents, military personnel, or, occasionally, last minute deals on sailings that are not yet full. Finally, one of my favorite Disney Cruise Line hacks for better pricing is booking a placeholder.
A placeholder is a deposit placed on a future sailing while onboard your current Disney Cruise Line sailing. The deposit of $250 holds your “place” for a future cruise. It allows you to book your next cruise at 10% off the prevailing rates.
The only caveat to this perk is that the cruise must be booked within two years of accruing the placeholder or your deposit will be refunded and no discount will apply. You can wait until the end of your cruise to make this reservation or you can stop by guest services at any point for Cast Member assistance with a future booking.
When is a Good Time to Go?
Just like other popular destinations, cruises experience high season, or peak season, and low season. Peak times for cruising occur during the spring break time frame as well as the summer months (typically May-September). Low season is considered late September to early December as well as January through early March.
Certain sailings, such as Northern Europe and Alaskan cruises, are only offered during the summer months. No one really wants to go on an Alaskan cruise in the winter months! Holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Halloween, or Christmas, will also see higher prices for sailings.
Even though the Christmas holidays occur in December, which is typically low season, the two weeks surrounding Christmas and the New Year often see pricing spikes. Likewise, sailings such as Halloween on the High Seas or Star Wars Day at Sea may occur during a slower season, but because they are special cruises, the prices will be higher.
Weather is another factor you need to consider when booking your Disney cruise. Hurricane season is June through November, but sailings most often have no issues during those months. One of the best ways to protect your Disney cruise vacation should something go awry is to purchase travel insurance. Unlike Walt Disney World Resort vacations, cruises can, and do, get cancelled or changed due to weather.
Disney Cruise Ships and Where They Sail
Currently, Disney has four main cruise ships. The Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy are the names of their existing ships. Late summer of 2022 will see the addition of the Disney Wish to this fleet. It will begin its sailings out of the main Disney Cruise Line terminal in Port Canaveral, Florida.
The other ships have different sailing lengths and “home” ports. Galveston, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana are the “home” of the Disney Wonder. However, the Disney Wonder also sails through the Panama Canal to San Diego as well as to Hawaii and Alaska in the summer months.
Port Canaveral is the main port for the Disney Magic, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy. The Disney Dream and the Disney Magic will both be offering a few itineraries that sail out of Miami, Florida in 2022. Most Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries make a stop at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay, however, not all do. Make sure you check the itinerary when choosing your sailing!
You may have an idea of when you want to go on your cruise, but if you want to drive to the port or want to visit the theme parks before you sail, you will be limited to the ports that fit those needs.
Staterooms Onboard Disney Cruise Ships
Why would your stateroom choice affect when you cruise? Depending on the weather at different times of the year, length of your cruise, and itinerary, it can make a great deal of difference! The main stateroom categories are interior, ocean view, verandah, and concierge. Ocean view rooms do not have a balcony, but can give you a glimpse of the outdoors. This is great for seeing the outside while staying warm inside during a cold weather cruise.
Verandah rooms have balcony access. On longer cruises, a balcony is a great way to enjoy an outdoor space with fewer people than a crowded pool deck. As a general rule, warm weather cruises to the Eastern and Western Caribbean will be more comfortable with a verandah than an Alaskan cruise (unless you enjoy being outside in the cold, that is).
Alternately, the interior staterooms will probably always be the best price for a less expensive cruise overall. Personally, I wouldn’t want to spend a seven night cruise in a room with my family that had no windows!
For the ultimate luxury experience, there are concierge staterooms available on every ship. Concierge guests receive include perks such as larger rooms, complimentary WiFi, personalized assistance with shore excursions, and more.
What is Included on a Disney Cruise
When comparing cruise lines, one must consider more than just the pricing aspect. Other cruise lines often seem less expensive, but once you are onboard, it seems like everything has a cost. The best part of a Disney cruise, for me, is how much is already included in my cruise fare.
The main dining rooms are available for more than just dinner at no extra cost. All soda, juice, and coffee are included in the meals in the main dining rooms as well as on the pool deck and quick service restaurant. Disney characters as well as Broadway-style shows and other entertainment are all part of the cruise cost.
Families will love the kids club being included at no additional cost as well! The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab (ages 3-12), Edge (ages 11-14), and Vibe (ages 14-17) host activities daily, all of which are included in the cruise fare.
Room service and most onboard activities such as crafts, trivia, and karaoke contests are also included. Yes, you read that right, room service is INCLUDED! Adults will appreciate access to their own pool area and hot tub at no extra cost as well.
Lastly, special events like Pirate Night and fireworks at sea offer a distinct “Disney Difference” over other cruise lines.
Other Cruise Costs to Note
While much is included in your Disney Cruise vacation fare, some things are not included. Younger children, under three and not potty-trained, can be cared for in the ship nursery for an hourly fee. Currently, the nursery is closed, but I am hopeful they will decide to open it soon!
Port Adventures are also an extra cost. While the visit to Castaway Cay is included, extras such as reserved cabanas, snorkel equipment, and floats are not. One of the best Disney cruise tips I can offer parents is to bring a few small sand toys or balls for kids to play with if you are taking a Caribbean cruise. First thing kids want to do is dig in the sand or play with a ball. You can save yourself the cost of buying them on your port adventure if pack them beforehand.
Why Choose a Disney Cruise Vacation
To conclude, why is a Disney Cruise vacation worth all this planning and preparing? Well, it’s three vacations in one for starters. It’s a cruise, it’s (usually) a tropical getaway, and it’s a Disney vacation all rolled into one trip. It is so much fun, I almost enjoy it better than visiting the Disney Parks (almost)! The best way to decide if this vacation is right for you