If you’re looking for a kid friendly cruise, Disney is probably one of the first cruise lines that comes to mind. They’ve got fantastic entertainment, kids clubs and let’s not forget character meets to make even the youngest cruiser happy.
Disney Cruise Line is also one of the pricier cruise options out there. Sailing during the school year is definitely a good way to save with Disney but if you’re looking for even more savings, here’s a few ways to reduce the cost of a DCL family cruise vacation.
1. Choose an Inside Cabin
Inside cabins are always the cheapest on any cruise line. Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy have magical portholes in their inside staterooms so it doesn’t feel as closed in and dark as you may think inside cabins do. Here are a few pointers on how to choose a cabin on a Disney cruise ship.
2. Look for a Restricted Guarantee Room or Secret Rooms
If you are willing to book last minute (usually 75 days prior to departure) you can choose a “restricted guarantee” room on select sailings. You won’t be able to choose your room and you will be assigned a stateroom only a few days prior to sailing.
We booked an Inside Stateroom (category IGT) 60 days prior to departure and saved around $400 that way.
There are several restrictions however when booking under this “restricted guarantee” – including full payment due at time of booking, booking is non refundable and non transferable, name changes and stateroom category changes are not allowed after a confirmation number has been issued.
There are secret rooms on Disney Magic and Wonder where views are slightly obstructed and you’ll save a few dollars if you request them in advance. The secret porthole rooms (Category 10) are inside staterooms without a window but they have a porthole with an obstructed view.
Booking a secret verandah room (rooms that have a private deck but the view is a little obstructed) means you pay a bit less than guests in rooms with unobstructed views. You pay Category 7 prices instead of the usual Category 6 prices which are higher.
Disney Magic and Wonder have “secret porthole rooms” which are inside staterooms without a window but they have a porthole with an obstructed view. These Category 10 rooms can be requested but you will have to book way in advance to get them.
You can read more about how to choose a cabin and these secret rooms on Disney’s ships here.
3. Check the Special Promotions Section Regularly
Depending on the time of the year, families can save a lot booking under a DCL promotion.
You’ll often find “children sail free” promotions on cruises departing from Galveston, Texas and Canadians are offered a percentage discount on cruises departing from Miami at least once a year.
They’re always running a promo (US Military, Children Sail Free, Canadian Residents, Florida Residents are the most popular ones) so remember to check the Special Offers section of the Disney Cruise Line website regularly.
4. Use a Travel Agent
I tend not to use travel agents for most trips but for something like a cruise, I often book with a travel agent because of the extra discounts and freebies they include.
Travel agencies can offer additional discounts on top of what you see on Disney’s website. I’ve seen travel agency offering stateroom credits, photo packages and Disney gift cards to help offset some of the costs once you’re on board.
Last year we booked our Disney cruise with a travel agent and received a complimentary photo package and a small on board credit. It’s not a ton of savings but still one less thing to purchase while on board.
5. Skip the Drink Package
Soda, lemonade, milk, hot tea and coffee are all complimentary on a Disney cruise. Unlike other family-friendly cruise lines who sell drink packages to their guests, these non-alcoholic drinks are available from 24/7 dispensers inside their buffet restaurants as well as on the pool deck.
Many people don’t know this but Disney Cruise Line lets you bring your own alcohol on board. This is a big money saver as you don’t have to spend extra on alcohol during the cruise – as that’s where cruise lines make their money.
Passengers (21+) may bring two bottles of unopened wine or champagne (750 ml or less each) or six beers (12 ounces or less) on embarkation day and in each port of call. Alcohol must be carried in a day bag or carryon luggage (any bottles found in checked luggage will be taken away and stored until the end of the cruise).
There is a $25 corking fee should you bring a bottle of wine into the dining rooms or specialty restaurants like Palo or Remy but it is still relatively affordable compared to ordering off of their drink menu. We brought beer and wine on board without any problems on all of our previous cruises.
6. Book a Future Cruise Before You Disembark
Take advantage of re-booking bonuses before you disembark your Disney ship. You can save hundreds of dollars just by booking a cruise while on board.
On top of that discount, you will also get on board credit depending on the number of times you’ve sailed with Disney Cruise Line.
We’ve been booking before disembarking ever since our very first Disney Bahamian cruise on the Disney Dream and have saved hundreds from the prices advertised online.
You can combine the future cruise booking with travel agent promos and discounts to save even more. Once you get home, you can call DCL to transfer your reservation to your travel agent. Win win!