Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Disney Cruise or Bust (Part 1): HELP!

Can a cheap mother find a way to take her 9 year old son on a Disney Cruise without putting a hole in her budget? Let's start the journey...

In 2007, I went on a business trip to Orlando and I decided to take my then 7 year old son with me so we could go to Disney World. I really did not expect to have such a wonderful time. We stayed at the Disney value resort All Stars and went to Disney Quest, Disney Animal Kingdom and Universal Studios. Since then, I have been thinking about taking my son on a Disney Cruise. I like to do research, but even I was overwhelmed by the amount of information on the Internet about Disney.

Enter Twitter.
I love Twitter and I have met some great folks and found out lots of useful information on Twitter. So I figured that Twitter could help with with my Disney Cruise questions. A few months ago, I started following @wdwfan on Twitter because she tweeted some great information on Disney every day. She also puts on Disney Vacation Planning Live Chats where Disney fans can meet online and get their questions answered by the Disney experts. So I contacted @wdwfan and found out her real name is Allison Jones and she is a Disney World & Disney Cruise Specialist. Cool!

I asked Allison to answer some of my burning price related Disney Cruise questions. She did such a great job that I am including my questions and her answers below. This is just the start of my Disney Cruise journey so stay with me over the next few months as I find out more and hopefully decide to take my son on a Disney Cruise in 2010/2011.

(Photo above from

1. What is the best time of year to go on a Disney Cruise to make it more affordable? The best time of year to take a Disney Cruise is January and September. Both of these months are lower rates and more discount promotions. For example, right now Disney is offering a Kids Sail Free promotion where kids 17 and under sail free with a paid adult on a 3-Night or 4-Night Cruise in January. It also helps to book way in advance. Disney does offer something called an Early Booking discount. The farther out you book, the more money you will save. If any deals come up after you booked, you can always update your reservation as deals come along.

2. Which is more affordable overall - a 3, 4 or 7 day cruise?
A 3-Night Cruise will be the least expensive cost for a Disney Cruise vacation. However, the longer you cruise the more value you will get on your cruise. When you cruise for a longer cruise, you will have more time to enjoy activities on board the Disney Cruise Ship. For a 3-Night or 4-Night Cruise, you hit two ports of call and are spending most of your time at these destinations. You really only spend some of your time on the cruise ships in the evening. On the longer cruises, you get more value because you can enjoy more of the amazing activities, behind the scene tours, and Children Programming that you may not get to experience on the shorter cruises.

3. Now that the Disney Dream is booking, will the cost of the existing older ships go down?
At this point, we have not heard any news about the Disney Wonder or Magic going down in price. For cruise lines, these are still very new ships so we are not expecting these prices to go down with the addition of the Disney Dream.

4. Is is cheaper to book through a travel agent or go directly to the Disney website?
I always suggest booking through a travel agent, but more specifically an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Now, I am a little biased because that is what I do for a living. However, I would recommend any Authorized Disney Vacation Planner for book a Disney Cruise vacation not just our agency. They are really the best of the best in planning Disney Cruise vacations!

Not all companies do this, but I know alot of Authorized Disney Vacations Planners do. Just recently we had a Florida Resident family book a 4-Night Cruise. They booked with a Kids Sail Free promotion, which was the best deal at that time. They were paid in full and Disney released to us some new discounts for Florida Residents. I called and had their reservation updated to the new Florida Resident discount. This new discount saved them close to $3,200 total. We knew the discount came available, and we took the initiative to update their reservation to the new discount, even after they were paid in full. Disney will not do this. You would have to call Disney and ask them to modify your reservation and you would have to give them the rate code of the promotion. It is part of our job to make sure you get the best possible deal. It is always less expensive to book with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. They are your travel "agent" to help you get the best possible deal and have the best possible vacation!

5. I heard that kids sail free on some 2010 cruises with 2 full paying adults. Is this only when school is in session or also during the summer?
The Kids Sail Free is a great promotion. Disney first offered this promo last May. However, Disney did also offer the same Kids Sail Free promotion last summer for June and early July.

6. Are prices on the Disney Dream more than the prices for the existing ships? Will the inside cabins on the Disney Dream be more expensive prices now that they will have the virtual porthole?
The Disney Dream is new and exciting, so right now the prices are rather high. The prices vary depending on cabin availability. The more rooms that book, the higher the price goes for the staterooms. Right now the prices are a little higher than normal, because people are excited and booking the new ship. The Disney Dream will slow down in prices once the excitement wears off. The prices are expecting to be just the same as the Disney Wonder and Magic. Just because it is a newer ship and more technology, they are not expecting the prices will increase. It is more added benefit than price increase. Talking about value and saving money. The new Disney Dream has a huge money saver for larger families. Right now a family of 5, has to upgrade to a Deluxe Family Stateroom with Verandah (which is one of the most expensive staterooms on the ship). The new Disney Dream will have room for families of 5 in a less expensive Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom. This room will be about $50-100 more than a Standard Inside Stateroom, so for a larger family much more reasonable in price!

7. What is the sleeping situation in most rooms - queen beds or twin beds? The rooms have (2) twin beds that can be separated or combined to a King Bed. There is then a sofa that is converted to a twin bed. In some of the other quad rooms, there are also drop down beds from the wall or ceiling to make additional space for family members. These beds are locked up during the day and then during turndown service, they are broken out into the sleeping arrangements.

8. Are there packages that include airfare from Detroit or is it cheaper to book my own airfare? For airfare, it actually depends on your travel dates. Sometimes flights may be less expensive with Disney or sometimes it may be better to book on your own. Certainly, try to price both ways to see what is the better deal. With Disney Cruise airfare you are not actually assigned your flight or airline until about 30 days, before you leave for your Disney Cruise vacation. Most guests like to know their arrival time, departure time, airlines, etc. way ahead of time. If you like to have everything organized, you may want to book your own airfare. If you are flexible to allow Disney to book your flights, you can save some money when you add airfare to your package. One other nice feature about the airfare into your package, Disney kicks in free shuttle transfers when you book airfare into your package. An extra way to save money on your Disney Cruise vacation.

Allison Jones is a Disney World & Disney Cruise Specialist, a Universal Studios Specialist and also a Sea World Guide. Allison's company, Destinations in Florida Travel wants to be your PreEAR Disney World and Orlando Vacation Planners. Follow Allison on Twitter (wdwfan) and Facebook (Destinations-in-Florida-Travel).


  1. Ah!!! at last I found what I was looking for. Somtimes it takes so much effort to find even tiny useful piece of information.
    Nice post. Thanks

  2. Jackie,
    You should start a cruise club for 2010/2011 for interested families. We could all contribute during the year and plan for the cruise in 2010. Similar to a regular cruise. This should bring down the cost of the cruise.