10 Easy Ways to Save on Disney Cruises
There’s no magic to saving money on Disney cruises. They are not cheap, but the levels of detail, cleanliness and service are exceptional – and you can’t beat the encounters with characters, free Disney movies, and nonstop entertainment for all age groups. So what are the best ways to save? Here are 10 strategies.
Expedia.com, VacationstoGo.com and CheapCaribbean.com are a few of the websites offering good deals, especially if you’re combining the cruise with theme park visits and airfare. It helps to book far in advance or to be flexible. The best times to cruise are November through March, excluding holidays. Book your next trip while you’re on board and you will automatically save 10 percent on your next cruise.
Choose your room carefully
There are many resources, such as mousesaver.com, devoted to specific ships’ “secret” savings on rooms, from verandahs with slightly obstructed views to adjoining rooms that are much cheaper for large families than booking premium suites. Like any cruise ship, interior rooms are nearly always cheaper than verandah rooms. If you’re not going to spend significant time in the room (and you shouldn’t), just enjoy the view from the various decks and save a ton of money on your stateroom. You can always ask for an upgrade at the Guest Services desk when you board. It can be done!
Take your own pictures
From the time you board until you disembark, staff photographers will be swirling all around, ready to capture dinners, photo ops with characters and excursions. Each photo will set you back about $14, with various package deals that top $140. Taking your own snaps will save you serious money. You’re under no obligation to buy any from Disney.
Save on drinks
While you can score free food and soft drinks all day, adult beverages and bottled water can add up. Good news: as of fall 2015, Disney Cruise Lines allows guests 21 and over to bring on board two 750 ml bottles of wine or champagne, or a six-pack of beer. The $25 corkage fee is still a much cheaper way to relax than paying as you go.
For about the same price, you can buy the drink package on the first day. A wine package for three days costs about $88. It’s cheaper than paying by the glass if you plan to have five or fewer alcoholic beverages on a three-day cruise. Best advice: don’t overindulge if you want to save money.
Be resourceful with water
If your cruise takes you to the Bahamas and Disney’s Castaway Cay, you will need drinking water. A lot of it. Either purchase the cooler of six bottled waters – or bring some clean, empty water bottles – and refill them free from fountains or the free dispensers at the outdoor restaurants.
Dress up for less
Does your little girl want to dress like a Disney princess for cruise dinners? The ship’s stores, like the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, carry exquisite but expensive princess outfits, as well as themed outfits and character costumes for boys and adults. If you don’t feel like paying $60 or more for something that will only get a few days’ wear, bring your own costumes from home or order them with coupon codes for costume shops online.
Go cheap on theme nights
Before you go, look up theme nights and plan ahead. The pirate party on the Bahamas-based Disney Dream, for example, has a dress-up-optional Pirate Night. You can buy an eye patch or a full costume on board, but why spend the money for an hour-long show and fireworks? The ship provides free pirate bandanas, or you can pack your own accessories.
Go easy on souvenirs
Souvenirs are a special part of the cruise experience, but they can be pricey. First, set a budget. Browse the ship’s stores to see what’s on sale but don’t buy until the last day, and then stick to your budget. It’s easy to fall in love with all things Disney when you’re on board, but decide whether you’ll really want those things when your sunburn wears off.
One brilliant and free souvenir idea is an autographed pillow. Take a new pillowcase and a package of laundry markers to the Guest Services desk when you board, and it will be signed by characters by the end of your trip.
Skip the surfing and calling
It’s not cheap to stay in touch with those on land no matter how you slice it. The Connect@Sea app allows you to stay connected with your fellow passengers, make special requests or find out what’s happening at any given moment. Posting selfies on Facebook or checking email is a different story. Fixed-data Internet packages range from $19 for 100 MB to $89 for 1 GB, or pay as you go for a quarter per megabyte. It gets eaten up fast, so it’s best to use your cruise as a chance to unplug. The Cellular at Sea phone service is available via most cell phone carriers including AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. It costs more than $6 a minute, however.
Buy the cruise insurance!
No, it doesn’t sound like a savings, but it’s one extra many experts recommend. Whether your flight is delayed, you face a family emergency, or you get injured on the ship, the cost of travel insurance – 8% of your per-person fare – is worth it. The cruise line’s policy covers up to $10,000 in medical expenses and pays up to 75 percent of your trip cost if you must back out. It also pays for transportation if bad weather closes a port of call.
Of course, you can also make your own travel insurance arrangements. Just be advised that your own insurance might not cover accidents in other countries.
Taking a Disney cruise is the ultimate for a hardcore Disney fan or a family with children. Plan carefully, and you’ll rediscover the magic Disney is well-known for at the price right for you.