You’re going to be able to check “Disney Cruise” off your bucket list when you see all the ways you can save.

From when to book your cruise to how to get the best deal on Disney gift cards, we’ve got you covered. Plus, we’ve got tips for meeting all the Disney characters and checking in to your cruise reservation without having to stand in ridiculously long lines.

Before you continue, be sure to download the KCL app to be up to date on the best ways you can save on Disney products and vacations.

 

Before you book, get to know the Disney cruise ship you’re sailing on.

There are four different Disney cruise ships, the Disney Dream, Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, and Disney Fantasy, that have different shows, rides, dining experiences, and (most importantly) freebies. Before you sail, learn about your ship to get acquainted with all the goodies and experiences.

 

1. Save up to $650 when you cruise mid-September, before Halloween, before Thanksgiving, or early December.

Basically, think of the most inconvenient time of year to sail on a Disney Cruise: that’s the best time to go.

Anytime kids are out of school is a no-go if you want to save up to $650 on your overall trip. We’ve compiled a price comparison for trips in 2021:

September

  • 10th – 13th (Labor Day week): $2,947 & up
  • 17th – 20th: $2,418 & up, savings of $529

October

  • 29th – Nov. 1st (Halloween week): $2,892 & up
  • 22nd – 25th: $2,422 & up, savings of $470

November

  • 26th – 29th (Thanksgiving week): $3,612 & up
  • 12th – 15th: $2,961 & up, savings of $651

December

  • 17th – 20th (pre-Christmas week): $3,652 & up
  • 10th – 13th: $3,135 & up, savings of $517

 

2. Don’t book through Disney until you check the “Special Offers” page.

Throughout the year, Disney offers various specials:

  • “Children Sail Free” promos
  • Free Dining offers (typically in September, November, & December)
  • Room Only discounts (saves you up to 25%)
  • Play, Stay, Dine & save discounts (typically offered in the spring)

It’s worth taking a peek before you book. It’s also worth taking a peek at our general cruise hacks so you can save some extra cash.

 

3. Use Disney gift cards you can buy for 5% less than face value at Target.

Get a Target RedCard 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.

Disney gift cards range from $25-$500. After $100, all gift cards are eCards. You can consolidate your gift cards into one through the Disney Gift Card website.

The average 3-Night Disney Cruise for a family of four starts at $2,418, so if you use your RedCard, you’ll save $120.90.

 

4. Book your cruise through Costco, BJ’s, or Sam’s Club to get up to 4% off.

At BJ’s Wholesale, you can save 4% on $100 or $500 Disney gift cards.

Costco Executive members get 2% back on all their purchases at the end of every year, which includes travel purchases, too.

Keep an eye on Sam’s Club. Discounted Disney gift cards aren’t common but also not unheard of!

 

5. Book your Disney Cruise 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!

Or book with a third-party seller like CruisesOnly, but only if they give you a better deal than the Disney Cruise Line website. Sometimes the main site will surprise you; I found a 3-night cruise for four that had an offer for a free $150 Prepaid Visa Card after booking.

 

6. Book a year in advance — as soon as itineraries are released!

Disney releases cruise itineraries at least a year ahead of time. For example, in October 2021, they released Spring 2023 cruise itineraries. And in May 2022, they’ll release the 2023 fall dates.

Book as soon as possible to get better rates on cabins. As cruises begin to fill, Disney raises the price for rooms.

 

7. Unless you’re comfortable with a non-refundable cruise. Then book last-minute.

If you miss the early booking window and you’re flexible and OK with a little risk, aim to book a last-minute cruise (a month or less in advance). This is the second-best opportunity to save on the overall cost of the trip.

 

 

8. Don’t buy travel insurance through Disney unless it’s cheaper than Roam Right.

You can add a Vacation Protection Plan to your Disney cruise, but before you do, be certain you can’t get a cheaper option through third-party sites like Roam Right for your cruise dates.

Disney’s Vacation Protection Plan is 8% of the per-person voyage fare, including the non-commissionable portion of the voyage fare.

  • Disney Cruise for a family of 4: $2,418
  • Disney Cruise Travel Insurance: $194+
  • Roam Right Travel Insurance: $84-$148

Also, double-check that travel insurance isn’t already included with your homeowner’s insurance.

 

9. Speed up the check-in process by downloading the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App.

The Disney Cruise Line Navigator App is everything you need before and during your cruise.

You can check in online, manage your reservation, stay on top of scheduled events, make reservations for activities and dining, get daily special ship and spa offers, live chat with Disney crew members, and chat with multiple friends and family members who have the app and are also on board the ship.

 

10. Hit up the Captain’s Reception on the first formal night for free drinks.

On 7-day or longer cruises, you can attend the Captain’s Reception, which is held on the first formal night on the cruise just before dinner. And alcoholic drinks are complimentary.

Check your cruise itinerary or ask a Cast Member about the Captain’s Reception so you don’t miss it.

 

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 a.m.

You can even order some unlisted items like PB&J Uncrustables and Mickey bars (which are Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bars).

Note: There’s no room service on the last morning of the cruise, so make sure to plan accordingly.

 

12. Order coffee before you go to sleep to get hot coffee in the morning.

If you order a coffee at night, you’ll be able to enjoy a hot cup of coffee right when you get up. The coffee is stored in a highly insulated container, so if you don’t open it before the morning, the coffee will still be piping hot when you open it.

 

13. Get a free small charcuterie board at the Cove Cafe.

The Cove Cafe is a cafe on the Disney cruises that usually has additional charges, so if you’re looking to experience the ambiance but don’t want to buy anything, order a free charcuterie board at the Cove Cafe before dinner.

 

14. Go to the “Friendship Rocks” show to get a free T-shirt.

On the Disney Magic or Disney Wonder ships, you should go to the “Friendship Rocks” show to get a free T-shirt. Plus, the youngins will be able to dance with Minnie and Mickey on the Walt Disney Theatre stage.

 

 

15. Get free fairy dust at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

Just like at the Disney parks, if you go to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and ask for fairy dust, the Fairy Godmother in Training will sprinkle some over your child.

 

16. You might get a free character autograph from the front desk.

It’s a 50/50 chance that they still do this, but if you leave a pillowcase, signature book, or photo with a marker at the front desk, characters might come and sign your item. It’s a free and nifty way to remember your Disney Cruise.

 

17. Don’t bring your OTC medication to your Disney Cruise – it’s free.

Via Disney Examiner

Just like at the Disney parks, if you ask the Guest Services desk for over-the-counter medication, you can get it for free. Luckily, this includes seasick medication. So if this is your first cruise, and you aren’t sure how you’ll be affected, you can get this free medication to help you.

 

18. Skip the pricey rentals; buy snorkel sets from Walmart.

This works best if you’re looking to avoid crowds, avoid feeling like you have to rush around, and avoid added expenses.

Rentals through Disney Cruise Lines are $18 for kids ages 5-9 and $34 for everyone else. Snorkel sets at Walmart go for $14-$24, which saves you up to $20 per person.

Also, if you have young children, chances are really good they’ll just want to play on the beach anyway.

 

19. Get a $50 onboard credit if you use the Disney Visa Credit Card to pay for your cruise.

Have a Disney Visa Credit Card? Aside from getting 10% off select Disney packages, merchandise, and onboard spa treatments, you also get a $50 onboard credit if you use your card to pay for your trip.

 

20. Or get a Disney Premier Visa Card and get a $300 statement credit.

Get a Disney Premier Visa Card and get a $300 statement credit after you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. You’re going to spend that kind of money on the cruise booking itself, so you might as well get something out of it.

You’ll also get 2% cashback in the Disney Rewards Dollars, which you can use at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and most Disney locations. You’ll earn 1% on all your other purchases.

On top of that, the Disney Premier Visa Card gives you 10% off a Castaway Cay Getaway Package.

 

21. Ask for a punchcard if you’re ordering a fancy coffee.

Drip coffee is all complimentary, but if you wanted a latte, cappuccino, espresso, or another fancy coffee, it’ll cost you per drink. What they won’t tell you is that there is a punchcard that you can get whenever you order one of these drinks. After the fifth drink, you’ll get your sixth one free.

 

 

22. Avoid lines to see Disney characters by visiting them toward the end of your cruise or making reservations.

Most people get in line to see Disney characters. What they don’t realize is the characters are around the whole time. You’ll probably get a chance to see them without waiting in line at the end of the cruise during their last-chance meet and greet.

You can also make reservations to meet characters at events like Princess Gathering, Frozen Meet & Greet, Marvel Day at Sea, or Star Wars Day at Sea for no extra charge. If you’re on a 7-nights or longer cruise, you can make reservations for Character Meals, too.

 

23. If you can, skip the wifi — it’s a rip-off.

Disney charges by the amount of data used for wifi, not by the amount of time you spend online.

This makes watching movies expensive, but periodically checking email or posing 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.

Keep in mind, Wave PHones can only call or text other Wave Phones, stateroom phones, or any ship extension. They don’t work at any ports (except Castaway Cay), and you can’t use them to log in to your social media or email.

Plus, if you download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App, you’ll be able to text anyone with the app for free.

 

24. Get 10% off your next cruise when you book on board.

If you’re loving your cruise and are already planning your next one, then you’ll love getting a 10% discount on your next Disney cruise. All you have to do is book it on board before you leave. You’ll also get a reduced deposit on 7-Night or longer cruises.

This On-Board exclusive offer is available at the Disney Vacation Planning Desk and via the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app.

 

25. Get up to 35% off your cruise with a military discount.

Disney Cruise Line offers a military discount on select trips in 2022. The cheapest we could find was one for 35% off your entire cruise, and you don’t have to pay taxes, fees, or port expenses.

 

26. Bring your own wine and beer and save up to $315.

You’ll get free soda, lemonade, milk, hot tea, and coffee aboard the ship. But of course, wine and beer cost extra. Disney Cruise Wine Packages are anywhere from $97 – $315, plus a 15% gratuity. But good news — you can bring your own.

Passengers can bring two bottles of unopened wine or champagne (no larger than 750 ml.) or six beers (no larger than 12 oz.) on embarkation day as well as at each port of call. The bottles can’t be in checked bags or luggage, so make sure you have enough space in your carry-on.

The coolest part? You can bring aboard two new bottles or six beers at each port of call. Just make sure they’re all unopened.

Note that there’s a $25 corking fee per bottle of wine if you’re bringing the bottle to dinner.

 

27. Check out the pin trading night on your Disney cruise.

Did you know that you can trade pins with the Cast Members on your Disney cruise? Any Cast Member with pins on their lanyard is willing to trade pins with you if you have Disney-branded pins. Plus, there is an unbroadcast pin trading night that will satisfy any pin trading enthusiasts.

Be sure to check out your schedule on the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app to know when your pin trading night will occur.

 

28. Bring an extra gift card and surge protector to keep your electronics charged for the entire cruise.

In order to get electricity to your room, you need to put your room key into a slot next to your door, but if you put a gift card into the slot, the reader won’t be able to tell the difference, so you’ll be able to have electricity in your room even if you aren’t there.

Another quick tip: bring a surge protector with extra outlets. A standard room will come with three plugs in your room, so if you have multiple devices, then you should bring a surge protector to plug in all your devices.

28 Sneaky Disney Cruise Tips That'll Save You Money & Time