So you’re thinking about a Disney Cruise. Well congratulations! You’ve selected an amazing family destination for kids young and old. It’s a lot less strenuous than Disney World and it can also be a more affordable option if you do it right. Here are 10 important tips as you plan your first Disney Cruise:
1. Plan early. Typically the best rates (and the most room options) are available as soon as rates become available. That’s often 12-18 months out so that plan may not work for everyone but the sooner you can confirm your details the better. This is especially important if you are traveling with a larger group that spans more than 1 stateroom! For the most part, gone are the days of promotional offers. You may find some great last minute fares for ships that aren’t full but it’s never a guarantee.
2. Travel off season. With kids, I know this one is hard but traveling off season will save you big bucks. Spring Break, Summer, and Holidays are all peak time and Disney will take advantage by making that peak cost time as well!
3. Know what your budget will get you. A $2000 budget it not going to get a 7 night cruise. A family of 5 only fits in a single stateroom as a Verandah room which is definitely bigger bucks. Kids under 3 aren’t free. Think about your budget but be flexible to enjoy the cruise experience you’d like. For many, 4 night cruises leave you a feeling of wanting more but for others it’s a great “test” or starter cruise.
4. Sea sickness concerns. If you have any concerns about sea sickness, choose your stateroom appropriately. Inside staterooms don’t give you a window to the outside world, so I’d cross it off the list. The middle of the ship has the least amount of sway. Stay away from rooms toward the ends of the ship. Don’t travel during peak storm season where you may have to travel at higher speeds to get somewhere or where you may encounter more rough waters. You may also want to consider a verandah room to give you a chance to breathe in the fresh air. In general, it’s said to have a view of the horizon at all times. When all else fails, bring seasickness patches!
5. Think about what you’ll be doing on the ship. When choosing a stateroom, think about where you planning on spending most of your time. While all ships have elevators, it’s a slow mode of transportation. Plan on taking the stairs if you’re able! If pool time and soft drink and ice cream are most important, pick a higher deck to be closer to those locations. If child activity areas and youth clubs (or dining) are higher on your priority list, the lower decks are best. If both are important, pick somewhere in the middle and you’ll be between everything you need!
6. Know the milestone dates. Your rotational dining is already set for you, so nothing as competitive as Disney World dining reservations, but if you want a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience (not on all ships) or a fine dining or brunch reservation at Remy or Palo, they are quick to go. You may snag a cancelled reservation after boarding the ship or close to your departure date, but planning ahead is important!
7. Know customs and identification requirements. If you are traveling to an international destination or you are departing from a non-US port city, you will need a passport. Bahamian and Caribbean cruises you may not need one, but I think it’s helpful to have even for the kids. An added expense, but an important thing to think about as you plan!
8. Choosing the right dining time. The default selection for your rotational dining each night is the second seating which might be late for the little ones in your crew if you are thinking about a Caribbean or Bahamian cruise. If you’re going Alaska, the main seating might be too early. Make sure you are aware of seating times!
9. Transportation. If you are traveling to Port Canaveral, transportation to and from the Orlando airport is not free like it is with WDW. Expect an additional per person cost to get you there and back. If you have a larger party, it may be more cost effective to rent a car or find your own method of transportation. If you’re driving, you’ll have a parking fee at port per day. Disney does have transport to and from your WDW resort for the same fee as departing from the airport. Be aware that each resort has their own departure times (typically just once a day, so you may want to return back to the airport if you want an early arrival).
10. Be prepared for a trip of a lifetime. Prepare yourself for an amazing stay with all sorts of magic and somewhere you’ll want to go back to over and over again. Be prepared to let out a few tears on your way back to port. If you need more magic right away, you can book your next trip on the ship and save yourself a few dollars in the process! It’s a truly magical experience that no one will ever forget!
The process of booking a Disney cruise can be VERY confusing, so let a professional help you! Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation! Plus you won’t have to watch for any possible rate drops, research everything there is to offer, or keep track of milestone dates for any “extras” you want during your voyage. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) If you already have your cruise planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!