My friend Mike is what I’d call a true Disneyland expert! He’s written a couple awesome Disneyland posts for me, and today, he’s back with more Disney tips! With that, here’s Mike:
Vacations can be expensive. And Disney Cruises can also have a daunting price tag. But as seasoned cruisers will tell you, that price tag comes with a lot of value. For many, having one price is actually a great way to help budget for a vacation. Especially when that price includes:
- Transportation to and from all the different locations you will visit
- Your lodging on this epic vacation
- Meals, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages
- Activities – pools, sports, kids clubs, shows and even first run movies
But even with that perspective, who doesn’t want to get the best deal out there? This can be especially tough if you have never done a cruise before. A quick search will certainly give you a lot of prices, but is what you’re buying a good deal…or are you missing the boat (so to speak) on the best price?
Let me give you 5 tips for getting the best price on your Disney Cruise.
Tip #1: Have a Target
Literally, have a Target nearby your home. Let me explain. You can pay for almost any Disney Vacation with Disney Gift Cards. They can be used with a reservation agent over the phone, your travel agent can use them to pay for your vacations, and even once you get on the ship you can use them for any bill you may have accrued while on your Cruise. Target sells these little bad boys.
And if you are one of those folks with a Target REDcard, you can save 5% on all your purchases, including Disney Gift Cards. So let’s say you have a $200 deposit. You buy $200 worth of gift cards the day before at Target. You only pay $190 for said gift cards and have saved $10. This can slowly become a substantially savings. And since the Target REDcard has a debit option to draw directly from your bank account, you don’t have to rack up an enormous bill at the end of the month.
There is a huge downside though. You have to go inside a Target. And as you know, you’ll see other things you’re going to want to buy. So you will have to say “NO!” to the $5 copy of “Hook” on DVD and all the other gadgets and gizmos and whozits and whatzits galore available as you enter the store.
(Don’t even ask how many thingamabobs I have.)
Tip #2: Book Early
I mean early. Early, early. This is absolutely the best price you will get. And I do mean the day that new itineraries are announced for sale to the public. Most cruise pricing works that as cabins are bought, similar cabins (or same categories, to use cruise lingo) will rise. So, if in the first hour a handful of people buy Inside Cabins (which are generally the lowest price), Disney can (and will) raise the price on the remaining Inside Cabins.
But booking the day of is not as easy as it sounds. As a travel agent, I have been on the phone with Disney Cruise Line the minute they open to buy the new itineraries and have had to endure multiple hours-long wait times. It’s like Black Friday if you weren’t able to get in line beforehand. But are the savings worth it? Absolutely. The added bonus is that the cruises won’t set sail for about a year to 18 months. Though you will have to pay for a deposit a time of booking, it gives you the maximum amount of time to pay for your cruise.
Tip #3: Book Late
Everything I said previously still applies. But I know some folks really can’t get themselves to begin thinking about a vacation that is maybe a year and half away (or longer). Perhaps you’ve recently come into some cash that you can’t account for and need to get rid of it quick (I’m not here to ask questions). So here it is, you want to get a cruise and buying early isn’t an option. The next thing you can do in hopes of a deal, is buy late.
Disney will offer special rates on what they call “Restricted Guaranteed” cabins. Before I get into that, a brief primer on how Disney Cruise Line categorizes their cabins. The three main categories of cabins are Inside (no windows), Oceanview (windows) and Verandahs (with an outdoor seating area). With that known, these last minute cabins are called IGT (Inside Stateroom with Restrictions), OGT (Oceanview Stateroom with Restrictions) and VGT (you guessed it, Verandah Stateroom with Restrictions).
Typically these rates come out 21 to 75 days in advance. This is the first big hurdle you have to overcome – time. These deals are rarely offered when kids are on vacation (I won’t say never, but it is far less common). So you’ll have to be able to pull kids from school and/or get time off from work on shorter notice.
Next, the entire payment is due at booking. So be ready with that cash that was burning a hole in your pocket. In addition, that also means you’re buying plane tickets within that time frame (if the port isn’t driving distance). So you will need to make sure you aren’t losing whatever savings with your air carrier that you might have gotten with your cruise. And as you might have guessed, these are not refundable cabins.
The last thing to know is that you won’t get to pick where on the ship your cabin will be. That’s the guarantee part of “Restricted Guaranteed.” If you buy an IGT, they guarantee you an Inside Cabin somewhere on the ship, but the restriction is you won’t know which cabin you will stay in until you board your cruise.
Having said all that, even these last minute prices won’t necessarily be a better price than if you had booked early. These are prices that are discounted from what is currently offered for rooms of the same category.
Tip #4: Book Again!
So you have just enjoyed an amazing Disney Cruise. You’re about to leave the ship but you recall this little tip. If you book your next cruise, while you’re on a cruise, they offer substantial ways to save. First, a lower deposit. On cruises of 7 nights or longer, you can pay just a 10% deposit. Not only that, but most cruises will qualify for a 10% reduction in the final price (sans peak times). In addition, booking onboard for your next cruise can also qualify you for up to $200 of onboard credit.
The best part is that you can book a “Placeholder Cruise.” If you’re onboard and you don’t know exactly what cruise you want to take, you can book one of these Placeholder Cruises and then change the reservation to an actual cruise you want to book when you’re back home.
Tip #5: Book with a Travel Agent
A travel agent is the a great way to save money. Nearly every travel agent doesn’t charge you for their services. In addition, they can help you to figure out if booking now or later will be the best way to save money. They can accept Disney Gift Cards to book your cruise. Also, when you book your next cruise onboard, you can just mention that you have a travel agent, and they can book your cruise with your travel agent.
Not only can they do that, but they also can help you with every other question you will have about cruising. Best way to get to the port, when to get to the port, what should I bring, what should I not bring, all questions an experienced travel agent, like myself, can answer.
Good travel agents will also be keeping on an eye on cruise fares to see if there is a drop in price you qualify for. For instance, recently I saved a client over $400 on their next cruise from the original price they had booked at. They took their savings and upgraded to a Verandah Stateroom and got an increase on their onboard credit. Now that might not happen for you every time, but isn’t it nice to know somebody is keeping track of the possible discounts for you?
Another great perk when you book with a travel agent is they can often give you a few days heads up when the newest batch of itineraries are about to be announced. Though it is now public knowledge, as of today, Disney Cruise Lines newest itineraries will go on sale for the general public on Thursday, April 14th (2016, for those reading from the future). Clients interested in cruising would have been first to receive word and have already started making plans on what reservations they want to book when phone lines open on Thursday to get the very best price.
Cruising has so much flexibility – it is astounding what a great vacation it can be. What are your tips for saving money when booking a Disney Cruise? Are you ready to get a free no obligation quote?
Mike Rinehart is an independent travel agent affiliated with MEI & Mouse Fan Travel. Follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MikesTravelThoughts/ View more of this travel thoughts at mike-rinehart-e3x2.squarespace.com, or request your free no obligation quote on your next Disneyland, Disney World, Aulani, Disney Cruise (and any other cruise line) vacation by emailing him at Mike.Rinehart@mei-travel.com. Mention “The Coupon Project” and receive a free gift with your completed booking.
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Plus, I’ve got TONS more tips for saving and planning a family vacation to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World at my Disney page. Check it out!