My husband and I took the boys (3 years and 6 months) on a five day Disney cruise. For a coupon clipping, bargain hunting, discount queen like myself it was hard to fork over tons of cash to a company that offers virtually no discounts. Nevertheless I had wanted to take a cruise to celebrate my 40th birthday and with young children Disney really was the only option for me (Cunard’s nannies sounds nice for my 6 month old but my three year old needs a jungle gym at sea to stay content).
Pricing for the cruise: the initial sticker shock and a few cost saving tips:
If you are used to cruising on Carnival cruise or similar mega boats be prepared for the Disney cruise to cost as much per person as your whole cruise on a cheaper ship. However even the smallest of Disney ship rooms are like luxury suites on other ships because they are built to squeeze in families. As a result, our bottom of the line stateroom had not only a bed but a nice sitting area with a couch (which converted at night into a bed along with a bunk bed that came down from the ceiling). Disney also in almost all cabins has nice features like a toilet separate from the shower/bathtub area; a beverage cooler/refrigerator; and insanely great service.
A few tips on paying less for your cruise:
1. the most expensive part of the cruise is paying for the first two adult occupants of any given room/cabin. additional children after that don’t cost that much but if you are an adult plus a child in a room – be prepared to be walloped. This means single moms are better off finding a friend with a kid to split the costs.
2. The bigger your family, the more expensive the room will get to accommodate your family. You may be better off booking 2 rooms to accommodate a larger family. Just make sure you have at least two adults so you technically put one in each room.
3. When trying to find a good rate, check for off season cruises (basically when most kids are in school) or for last minute deals posted by Disney. With Disney you either need to book right when cruises open or at the last minute. Anything in between and you are more likely to be looking at high prices. Also, departing from Miami is cheaper than Orlando.
4. The Disney credit card is one way of financing your cruise. If you book far enough in advance, you can book your deposit and then pay it off with interest free financing for six months. Then you can pay the balance and take another six months of interest free financing time to pay it off. Make sure to sign up when they are offering a Disney gift card (you can use this to help pay for the cruise and/or to use as on board credits. We booked a year in advance and used the card to pay daycare tuition each month. We then applied the reward dollars from that and the actual purchase of the cruise to our on board account. It covered the tips and a few other perks. I noted that many other bloggers take advantage of credit card rewards programs and other rewards programs to lower their costs including hotel points, airline points, and cash back bonuses.
5. Florida residents and US military personnel get discounts on Disney cruises.
Don’t forget when budgeting to consider: transportation to the ship, hotels before and/or after the cruise (if needed), tips ($12/per person – including children – per day), extras on board the ship.
We left from Miami stayed at the Comfort Suites by the Miami airport because it offered free shuttle service to the hotel from the airport, free shuttle from the hotel to the port and free breakfast. I highly recommend it.