Family Vacation Tips

How To Save On A Disney Cruise

[fa icon="calendar"] Sep 4, 2018 6:54:00 AM / by Sally Black

Sally Black

A Disney Cruise tops the list of dream vacations for many families.  Let's be real, Disney Cruises are expensive.  Yes, they are wonderful, magical for kids of all ages and you can expect nothing less than a fantastic family vacation.So how do you make this happen for your kids without breaking the bank?

Disney Cruise Line is considered a premium cruise compared to other family friendly cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. It's obvious that Disney cruise ships are full of fun features for children and adults but the pricing difference also translates into things that might not appear initially obvious like menu and entertainment quality.

Disney does not discount-period!  Frankly they are a beloved and recognized world-know brand. Their ships and theme parks are in high demand and they don't have to discount.  If you see online enticements for any kind of Disney deal run the other way!

 The good news there are ways to make that dream Disney cruise more affordable. Here are 10 tips to help your family save on a Disney Cruise.... 

There are TONS of pricing variables when it comes to booking a Disney of sailing, number of nights at sea, ports of call, type of cabin etc.  As a REALLY GENERAL "ball park"  a Disney Cruise costs between $150 - $300 per person/per night night at sea. To confirm advance reservations on a Disney Cruise, you will need to make a 20% deposit.  Final payment for your cruise is due 75-90 days prior to sailing. (Final payment on suites - 120 days prior to sailing)

 Here are a few tips that will help you to save a boatload on your Disney Cruise....

1. Book with a Travel Agent 

Most people don't understand how travel agents work and how much benefit the offer.  At Vacationkids, our agents can guide you  and help you choose the ones that make the most sense for your family.   We don't just want to sell you a cruise, we want to be your trusted travel advisor for years to come. 


Disney Cruise Lines will publish their rates, schedules and allow reservations about 2 years in advance.  Price will only go up from here and taking advantage of this tip can save you some serious coin. At Vacationkids, parents can set up a free Vacation layaway payment plan.  Making monthly installment payments will help you save on credit card interest. Credit card interest is one of those "hidden" charges that parents often overlook when pricing or booking a family vacation and it could end up costing you hundreds of dollars in the long run.

Don't worry about booking early.  Disney has generous cancellation policies so as long as you familiarize yourself with their fine print you can take advantage of early low rates and avoid penalties. Because none of us has a crystal ball, Vacationkids HIGHLY recommends Travel insurance. This costs about 8-10% of the total cost of your trip but it protect your vacation investment not to mention your peace of mind. Did you know that most health insurance plans do NOT cover your family outside of the U.S. while traveling? Just one of many reasons why you need travel insurance.


3. Book Early AND get Last Minute Discounts 

The best of both worlds - Right? That's what you get when you book a Disney Cruise with us at Vacationkids. Our agents monitor any sales offered by Disney Cruise Line, even after you have made your initial deposit. If Disney offers a cheaper last minute price on your cruise, our agents will call and have the lower price applied to your reservation.  Vacationkids proud to offer this service that has saved our clients HUNDREDS of dollars. 


4. Save Credit Card Interest With Free Vacation Layaway

I have yet to meet a family that calculates the credit card interest they're going to pay when budgeting for a family vacation.  Did we mention that you should "Book Early"?....well, the earlier you book the longer you have to take advantage of Vacationkids free Vacation Layaway.  Just by planning ahead you can save yourself a ton of money you probably didn't realize you were spending.


5. Re-Book During your Disney Cruise

The moment your family steps aboard a Disney Cruise ship, everyone immediately becomes a member of Disney's Castaway Club.  This is their loyalty program. One of the big perks is a savings of 10% off on your next Disney cruise if you make a small deposit commitment while you're sailing and currently on vacation.  Don't worry, you don't need to know your specifics like travel dates or destinations and we can still be your travel agent.


6. Look For Repositioning Cruises

Most cruises leave and return from the same port of call.  In travel industry terms we'd say guests would "embark and disembark" in Miami for example. But cruise ships often change their itineraries between seasons. For example, during summer months, ships may be offering Alaska. As the weather turns colder, those same ships maybe moved to offer Caribbean itineraries during the winter...and vice versa. 

When cruise ships change itinerary schedules, these are called "repositioning cruises".  By definition a repositioning cruise is when passengers embark in one port of call and then disembark at a different port at the end of their cruise.  Sometimes there are some great deals to be found with these itineraries.  For example a cruise ship leaving Alaska for the winter might offer a California coast repositioning cruise embarking in Seattle and disembarking in Los Angeles.  That same ship may then offer another repositioning cruise embarking from LA via the Panama Canal, ultimately arriving in it's home port of Miami for the upcoming winter season.

When considering a repositioning cruise, the price of the cruise itself may be lower but there are other factors to consider. First all passengers on repositioning cruises must have a valid passport. Getting passports will certainly add to your vacation budget (albeit a great investment towards futures adventures together.) In most cases, your family will need flights to get to port.  Departing home to one destination and returning home from a completely different destination is called an "open jaw flight". It's not a typical round trip airline ticket and it does come with a higher price tag.


7. Time Your Cruise for Your Best Timing

All travel prices are based on supply and demand. Prices get more expensive during high season and popular travel dates.  So how do we know the more affordable dates to sail?  With family cruises, pricing goes hand and hand with school calendars. December holidays and spring break weeks are going to be the most expensive dates to sail. If your family home-schools or if your kids are not yet school age, definitely take advantage of lower rates by scheduling your vacation when everyone else's kid is IN school.

The second timing tip has to do with the age of your kids. Disney is one of the few cruise lines that charges by age and not the number of passengers sharing a cabin. Teens 13-17 years old are charged at adult rate. Children's rates are for age 3-12 and babies ages 0-2 pay 50% of the child rate. Booking a Disney cruise before your child hits one of these milestone birthdays can help your vacation budget.


8. Choose The Right Cabin

 Disney cruise ships offer different categories of cabin or stateroom accommodations. 

  • Inside staterooms - no windows
  • Ocean View staterooms - offer a window or porthole
  • Verandah staterooms - feature an outdoor balconies with seating
  • Suites - also have verandahs/balconies with larger spaces and additional amenities

Some people want to select their specific cabin.  This is especially important for families who want cabins that are connected by a door.  Savings can be found with "guaranteed staterooms".  This means your family will pay for a particular category cabin and then you'll leave it up to Disney to select the best possible stateroom for you.

If you have a larger family with three or more kids then no doubt savings are even more important.  Sometimes it's more affordable to book two cabins connected by a door than it is to upgrade to a higher cabin category that will allow a family of five.  You have to know your pricing and do your travel math.  This is where an experienced travel agent can certainly help.  Who wouldn't want to save money and get more space, not to mention a little "privacy" for mom and dad (if you catch our drift).


9. Save Big On Souvenirs 

Perhaps the sound of a cash register Cha-ching should be used instead of the word souvenirs. Order your Disney clothing online before your cruise and bring it with you along with some sharpie markers.  Disney characters are happy to sign clothing that is handed to them (They will not sign it if it is being worn). 

One of the best, affordable and most memorable souvenirs for your family is to purchase a nice frame WITH a photo mat before your vacation.  Put a blank piece of paper in it with the number of days until your cruise. Let your kids "count off" each day until you sail. BE SURE to pack the photo mat with you and take it on your cruise.  Put it in a zip lock bag another with a note that has your name and cabin number on it.  Take it to the purser and ask them to have all the characters sign it.  They will gladly do this for your family.  Be sure to take a really nice group photo while on board.  Once at home, you'll have a gorgeous photo keepsake along with plenty of magical wishes from your favorite Disney characters for years to come.


10. Book a Combo Disney Vacation 

Did you know you can book a combination Disney vacation?...3, 4  or 7days in Walt Disney World Orlando combined with 3, 4 or 7 days at sea on a Disney Cruise.  This option offers you the best of both vacations and is great families that like variety or cannot make up their minds.  If your family needs to fly to Florida anyway for their Disney Cruise, then doing the parks at the same time can save you big dollars in the long run.


We Need Help Planning A Disney Cruise



Topics: Family Cruises, Affordable Family Vacations, Disney Vacations, Disney Vacation Details, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Planning, teens, family cruise

Sally Black

Written by Sally Black

Sally is the Founder of Travel Agency and author of the book "Fearless Family Vacations". She is also the Director of Travel Agent Initiatives and Training at The Family Travel Association.

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