How to Save Money on a Disney Cruise

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing ways for you to save money while you’re at Disney.


Save money. Hundreds of dollars off on a disney cruise, even if it isn't on sale.Why should I try to save money on a Disney Cruise?

I love Disney. I love Disney Cruise Line. Some of my most cherished and priceless family memories happened out to sea with Mickey and the gang. But if I can save a couple hundred thousand dollars, that’s more money for cabanas, souvenirs, fruity drinks and the future cruise desk.

Buckle up.

Save money. Ten tips for Disney Cruise Line on a budget.
Consider yourself warned.

Ten Insider Tips and Tricks to Save Money on a Disney Cruise

10. Save Money by Moving to Florida

Do you live in Florida? They offer last-minute discounts as Florida Resident Rates from time to time. They verify proof of residency at check-in.

Do you live in Canada? They rarely offer last-minute discounts for our neighbors to the north as well!

Do you live in Southern California? Disneyland’s neighbors also occasionally find discounts directed specifically for them.

To find this week’s deals, check out the Special Offers page on Disney Cruise Line’s website or contact your travel agent.

9. Save Money by Booking Onboard

Aside from the 10% off most stateroom categories (not the concierge rooms) and on board booking stateroom credit ($100 credit for six night or shorter cruises, $200 for seven night or longer cruises), they occasionally run specials onboard that they aren’t yet running on land or the website.

If you are uncertain of your desired dates, a future cruise voucher carries the same perks. As Disney Cruise Line puts it:

Travel must take place within 24 months of reservation to maintain booking benefits. Blackout dates apply to the Onboard Rebooking Offer, please inquire when booking a confirmed date or contact Disney Cruise Line or your travel agent for more details. Onboard credits, per stateroom, will vary based on sailing. $100 for sailing of 6-nights or less and $200 for sailings 7-nights and greater. Cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. Not valid on VGT, OGT, or IGT stateroom categories with restrictions or 2-night sailings.

8. Flexibility Saves a Ton- 50% Off Tip Here

Disney Cruise Line cruises four different ships nearly all year long. Your flexibility in ship selection or itinerary may be well rewarded! Let’s look at the start of April this year.

Save money. Ten tips for Disney Cruise Line on a budget.
Having cruised on all four ships, picking a favorite is hard. I love all of them! If I had to, I’d go with the Disney Wonder.

I could select cruises from three, four, five or seven nights long to the Bahamas or the Caribbean departing from Florida. Current prices for these cruises for a family of four vary from $2,234 to $8,440.

FYI: The cheapest way to buy a week in that time frame today is back to back cruises on the Disney Wonder…around $3,000 cheaper than a week on the Disney Fantasy.

Flexibility on stateroom category saves a ton of cash. (Concierge rooms run roughly twice as much as interior staterooms for a family of four. Fifty percent off if you don’t opt for concierge.) I love concierge…but I love two cruises instead of one also. #firstworldproblems

If you adore concierge but could also be happy in an interior, maybe rolling the dice on a port upgrade is your style?

Save money. Ten tips for Disney Cruise Line on a budget.
Stretch your budget without pulling a muscle.

7. Plan REALLY Far in Advance

How far in advance?
In January 2017, I am waiting for the 2018 summer cruise itineraries to get released. That is likely in April/May of 2017, but DCL likes to keep us on our toes. We’ll find out two or three days beforehand at the most.

How does Disney Cruise Line pricing work?
The lowest regular cruise fare emerges on opening day. As the ship fills, the pricing increases ship wide. I’ve spent time watching a single stateroom jump in price over a thousand dollars as the ship fills over the course of an afternoon.  If I’m interested in a stateroom, I book it. I prefer this as it lets me have ample opportunity to plan.

6. Procrastinate and Still Save Money? Maybe.

Interior Guaranty, Oceanview Guaranty, and Verandah Guaranty, (oh my!) Occasionally last-minute deals open up.
The IGT, OGT, VGT rates, as the different categories of last-minute guaranty rates are abbreviated, come with an extensive list of requirements.

Save money. Ten tips for Disney Cruise Line on a budget.They price similar to the first day rates. However, I only recommend these for VERY flexible people.

IF:

  • You aren’t picky about your stateroom or location; they will assign a room and not move you.
  • You don’t already have a cruise booked, new bookings only.
  • You have the entire cost of the cruise sitting in your bank account, required on booking.
  • You realize it is nonrefundable, nontransferable and nonnegotiable.
  • You know all party members full legal names and birth date at booking.
  • You have at most four party members.
  • You want a less popular time of year or a common itinerary. The more popular dates and itineraries rarely offer GT rates.
  • You’re patient. These offers come and go.

Please read any fine print! And then go with the flow.

5. Credit is King

If you enter your Disney Visa Card as your form of payment for all onboard purchases, your “Key to the World” card will show that you are a Disney Visa Card member and eligible for onboard perks. (Though you might need to mention these offers to receive the savings.) As of early 2017, Disney Visa is offering ten percent off some DCL photo packages, 10% off select onboard merchandise purchases over $50, 10% off a Castaway Cay Getaway Package, and 20% off select onboard spa services on port days. To see the latest offerings, visit the Disney Rewards site.

4. Save Money by Skipping School Breaks

Moving a cruise by a week or two can save a thousand dollars, especially if one of those weeks happens to be during a school vacation week. If you can pull your children out of school, you might find more room availability and lower prices as well. The cheapest rates for cruising are when children attend school. Cruise prices (almost) double by booking an otherwise identical cruise in mid-August and not mid-September when schools are in session.

Save money. Ten tips for Disney Cruise Line on a budget.
What do we do?

If you can’t take the kids out of school or work for the school districts and can’t leave, look for the odd weeks your schedule affords. Do you have an October break? Check that week for cruise rates. Do you start super early but finish at the start of May? Check the first week you have off in May. Do you start super late? Check the end of August or start of September. It’s almost always cheaper than the middle of summer.

3. Work With a Travel Agent (One You’re Comfortable With)

Most reputable Disney TAs work FOR FREE. (Disney pays them). Shop around and find one you’re comfortable with before you book or transfer to one within thirty days of booking. A good TA is priceless if you are learning the ropes. They do the legwork comparing dates and rates, suggest the perfect room for your party, calling Disney Cruise Line with gift cards or payments, and jamming to the hold music on release day.

Full disclosure, I’m a travel agent. I love Disney hold music. There may be Disney hold music dance parties.

2. Buy Disney Gift Cards (with Target Red Card)

Did you know that you can call Disney Cruise Line or login to your reservation and pay off your balance with Disney Gift Cards? Disney accepts Disney Gift Cards as payment to your balance on the ship at Guest Services. You can buy Disney Gift Cards either in store or online for 5% off of the face value. So if you apply $100 in gift cards, you save $5…but if you buy $5000 in gift cards, that’s $250 off.

1. Disney Rewards Dollars

Using your Disney Visa card earns Disney Rewards Dollars instead of a cash back bonus. (Or pick your favorite rewards card system.) If you run all of your utility payments through a good rewards card, it can add up quickly. I usually cover a significant percentage of our family vacations with our rewards, but that’s not the best of it…

IMG_3344
I surprised Ben with a cruise in 2013, paid for entirely in Disney Rewards Dollars. Then again for a girls weekend cruise in 2016. TWO FREE CRUISES! For paying utilities, groceries, gas and restaurant purchases, that’s not shabby.

 

What are your best money saving tips?

For more ways to save money at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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11 Replies to “How to Save Money on a Disney Cruise”

  1. I have yet to cruise Disney but sure would love to! I’ll keep an eye open on the special rates page for a SoCal discount 🙂

  2. I would love to do back-to-back cruises someday. In the meantime, we’re trying to save money by planning way ahead. Waiting on more 2018 dates to be released… then using Target REDCard to deposit gift cards into our Disney Vacation Account.

  3. I have found that flexibility and going when kids are in school really saves us a ton! We were planning to go on a cruise in July, but the exact same cruise was about 60% less by going Labor Day week (first week of September). Needless to say, we are going in September.

  4. Great tips, Lori! We’re keeping an eye out for the 2018 itinerary to open up to book an Alaskan cruise, so tip #7 was very helpful.

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