11 Ways to Save Money on Your Disney Cruise Line Vacation!

Have you ever dreamed of taking your family on an adventure to exciting destinations on the Disney Cruise Line, but suddenly were pulled back into reality when you saw the price tag? Trust me, you’re not alone. The good news is it is possible to set sail with the mouse without breaking the bank. To sweeten the deal, if you follow these money saving tips below, you will be able to relax knowing you have probably paid far less than your fellow cruisers for the same magical experience only Disney can provide.

1. Pay with a Disney Visa – Disney launched its own credit card several years ago. According to the Disney Visa Website, as a perk to its customers Disney will offer you a $50 On Board Credit when your cruise is paid in full using the Disney Visa Credit Card. As a nice added bonus, you typically receive 6 months 0% financing on the cost of your cruise and you rack up Disney Rewards Points as well. Disney Rewards Points can be cashed in for Disney Rewards Cards, (think gift card), that can be used on just about anything Disney. Use your Rewards Card to apply to your on board account to cover tips, drinks, spa treatments, and more.

2. Book with a Travel Agent – Travel agents pay a discounted price for the cruise that they sell you. The price you pay a travel agent will be the same as the price you would pay Disney directly, but many travel agents, such as Small World Vacations, offer you extras as a way of passing on some of the savings. These extras can be anything from On Board Credit, gifts for you in your stateroom when you arrive, cash back, or even gift cards when using member clubs such as Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club.

3. Book Your Cruise Online – As stated on their website, Disney offers a $25 On Board Credit to guests who book their cruise online using the Disney Cruise Line website. If you choose to book with a travel agent, be sure to ask them to book via Disney’s website to get you the $25 On Board Credit!

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(Note: The Disney Visa On Board Credit and the booking online On Board Credit promotions can be stacked together for a total of $75 in On Board Credit. These promotions can also be stacked with any On Board Credit offers you may receive from a travel agent.)

4. Re-book while on the Ship – Disney will allow, even encourage you to book while you are on the ship enjoying your current cruise. Mousesavers.com indicated that Re-booking on board will save you 10% off current rates for categories 11-4, plus they will give you $100-$200 in On Board Credit to spend for your next cruise.

(Note: The On Board Credit you receive for re-booking while on the ship cannot be stacked with the Disney Visa On Board Credit or the booking online On Board Credit promotions listed above. You can, however, stack the re-booking on the ship promotion with any On Board Credit offers you get from a travel agent.)

5. Cruise in the off season – Cruising in the off season usually means while most children are in school. Disney offers their cruises at a significantly reduced rate during these times of year. Keep in mind that Thanksgiving, Christmas-New Years, Spring Break, and the summer months are the most popular sailing times and the prices will reflect this. Be prepared for sticker shock for Disney’s more popular sailing dates.

6. Book Early – Unlike many other cruise lines, Disney typically raises its prices the closer it gets to the time of sailing. For this reason, it is always best to book as early as you can to get the best rate. You can cancel up until 90 days before your cruise.

7. Check the website often – Disney will periodically run specials such as Kid Sail Free or discounted rates for certain sailings. This usually occurs because there may be a few dates that are not selling as well as expected and they would like to fill the ships sooner. Act fast because once word gets out that Disney has offered these deals they sell out sometimes over night! Specials such as the Kids Sail Free promotion can offer thousands in savings, but are only available to the specified itineraries, cruise lengths, and other stipulations.

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8. Get on the Email and Snail Mail List – Disney has been known to offer special promotions via email and snail mail that are only available to the person they are sent to. These offers seem to be at random and are a welcomed surprise when received!

9. GTY Rooms & FREE upgrades – If you are a bit of a gambler or don’t really care about your room location, check out the different categories to see if any are listed as GTY status. GTY stands for guaranteed, meaning that you pay the going rate for that category and you are “guaranteed” to get a room in that category or higher. This also means that Disney chooses where to put you on the ship and you don’t find out your stateroom location until about 20 days before your cruise. The upside is you could end up with a “Free” upgrade if Disney chooses to place you in higher category stateroom. This often happens when Disney is trying to fill a ship and needs to move passengers out of the more popular stateroom categories to re-sell them. It is important to note that this “Free” upgrade is not limited to GTY rooms. Anyone can be offered an upgrade for free by Disney if they want to re-sell your room. However, with GTY rooms your chances of an upgrade are much higher but you will not have the option of requesting a different room. You get what you get.

10. Paid Upgrades at Port – If you are looking to upgrade your stateroom category, consider taking a chance by booking a cheaper category and upgrading at port just before the cruise. It’s not a sure thing, but sometimes you get lucky and a few rooms are available that you can upgrade to at a discounted rate. Make sure you get to port early if you plan to try to upgrade, as these rooms go fast if available at all.

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11. Keep on Sailing – Once you have cruised on Disney Cruise Line you automatically become a member for the Castaway Club. After your first cruise you are a silver level member. Once you reach 5 cruises you will be a gold member and after 10 cruises you will be platinum member. Gold and Platinum members get extra On Board Credit for re-booking while on board, as well as other perks such as discounts on select Disney merchandise on board and more.

By following these tips, you’ll find yourself pool side sipping on your favorite umbrella drink in no time at a fraction of the cost. Now that’s what I call a magical experience!

Sources:

Advertisement. Disney Rewards Visa and Debit Cards from Chase. Web. 03 Aug. 2010. .

Advertisement. Small World Vacations – Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Small World Vacations Small World Vacations, Inc. – Walt Disney World Vacation, Disneyland Packages, Disney Cruise Line Vacations and Adventures by Disney! Web. 03 Aug. 2010. .

Advertisement. Disney Cruise Line. Web. 03 Aug. 2010. .

One, Selecting. “MouseSavers.com – Disney Cruise Line Advice, Tips and Tricks.” MouseSavers.com – Disney Discount Source – Disney World Discounts, Disneyland Discounts, Disney Cruise Discounts. Web. 02 Aug. 2010. .