You’re going to be able to check “Disney cruise” off your bucket list when you see all the ways you can save.
Plus, I’ve got tips for avoiding standing in lines and dodging crowds too in case that’s what you think of when “cruise” comes to mind.
Take a look:
1. Use Disney gift cards you can buy for 5% less than face value at Target.
Get a Target REDcard (it connects with your checking account, so it’s not a credit card) if you’re planning a Disney cruise, because you’ll save an easy 5% when you use your REDcard to buy Disney gift cards. Use these to purchase your cruise and anything else Disney.
Imagine the savings when you’re spending thousands of dollars. . .
2. Or save 4% when you buy discounted gift cards through BJ’s Wholesale.
At BJ’s Wholesale right now, you can save 4% on $100 or $500 Disney gift cards.
3. Book your cruise through Costco Travel if you’re an Executive member and get 2% back.
Costco Executive members get 2% back on all their purchases at the end of every year. Travel purchases are included.
4. Don’t buy travel insurance through Disney unless it’s cheaper than Roam Right.
Also double check that travel insurance isn’t already included with your homeowner’s insurance.
5. Book a year in advance — as soon as itineraries are released!
Disney releases cruise itineraries at least one year in advance — in May for the next year’s fall dates and in October for the next year’s spring dates. So right now in May, Fall of 2019’s cruise itineraries are being released.
Booking as soon as possible will give you better rates on cabins. As cruises begin to fill, Disney ups the price on rooms.
6. Unless you are comfortable with a non-refundable cruise. Then book last-minute.
If you miss the early booking window and you’re flexible and okay with a little risk, aim to book a last-minute cruise (a month or less in advance). This is the other window of opportunity to save on the overall cost of the trip.
7. Book through a travel agent. They’re usually free.
Find an agent you trust, and pick their brain like crazy. Especially if this is your first Disney cruise. Agents are paid by cruise lines, so you should certainly take advantage of that!
8. Go on a cruise right after school starts, after Thanksgiving or early December.
Basically think of the time of year you wouldn’t choose to go because it’s inconvenient, and then go during that time.
So, any time kids are out of school is a no-go if you want to save money. Instead, go the second or third week after school starts!
9. Bring your own wine and beer.
You’ll get free soda, lemonade, milk, hot tea and coffee aboard the ship. But of course, wine and beer cost extra. Instead of overpaying for a glass of red wine with your dinner, bring your own.
Passengers can bring two bottles of unopened wine or champagne or six beers on embarkation day as well as at each port of call.
Note that there’s a $25 corking fee per bottle of wine if you bring the bottle to dinner.
10. Hit up the captain’s reception on formal nights for free drinks.
On 7-day or longer cruises, you can attend the captain’s reception, and alcoholic drinks are complimentary.
11. Get free room service on lazy days. (Or every day.)
Most menu items are available for free room service. You know, for those mornings when getting dressed is too big of an ask or if you’ve got a ravenous toddler who just can’t deal with waiting to go to the dining hall because he woke up at 4 am.
12. Buy snorkel sets from Walmart and skip the spendy excursions.
This works best if you’re looking to avoid crowds, avoid feeling like you have to rush around and avoid added expenses.
Also, if you have young children, chances are really good they’ll just want to play on the beach anyway.
13. Avoid lines to see Disney characters by visiting them toward the end of your cruise.
Most people get right in line to see Disney characters. What they don’t realize is the characters are around the whole time, and depending on how long your cruise is, you’ll probably get a chance to see them without waiting in line at the end of the week.
14. Disney charges by amount of data used for wifi, not by amount of time online.
This makes watching movies expensive, but periodically checking email or posting a picture of the kids at dinner on Instagram a bit more affordable.
Connect@Sea plans come in four different pricing packages:
- Pay-As-You-Go: $0.25/MB
- Small: 100 MB for $19.00 ($0.19/MB)
- Medium: 300 MB for $39.00 ($0.13/MB)
- Large: 1000 MB for $89.00 ($0.09/MB)
You’ll save the most money by skipping internet access completely. You can use the two complimentary Wave Phones to call or text anyone else aboard the ship or contact the ship’s crew.
15. Don’t book through Disney until you check the “Special Offers” page.
Throughout the year, Disney offers specials like “Children Sail Free” promos; Free Dining offers (typically September, November and December); Room Only discounts (saves you up to 25% off); and Play, Stay, Dine & save discounts (typically offered in the spring).
It’s worth taking a peek before you book.