Shopping for Disney cruise deals can make a sprinkle of pixie dust feel necessary to get those magic prices. And even when you find what looks like a good deal, it may be hard to decipher those Disney cruise prices.
Disney Cruise Line (DCL) offers a unique product within the cruise market and prices reflect that. But there are deals to be had on Disney cruises. Yes, there are last-minute Disney cruise deals. You'll also find Disney World and Disney cruise package deals. There are even Disney cruise deals for Florida residents and members of the military.
Cruise Critic made the necessary calculations to get you the scoop on the deals that are available and tips to help you find them. Here’s what you need to know.
Disney cruise deals are a bit elusive. In order to sift through the deals you might encounter -- whether directly through Disney Cruise Line, on Cruise Critic or from a travel agent -- there are some basic numbers you should know in order to maximize your cruise's value.
Deals on Disney cruises' inside cabins start at around $180 per person per night (before taxes and port fees). Anything even close should be considered a deal. For oceanview staterooms, fares close to $225 per person per night are deals. And while the gold standard for cruise deals across the mainstream cruise lines is around $100 per person per night for balcony cabins, Disney is not a mainstream cruise line. Any balcony cabin on a Disney ship priced under $300 per night is a good deal. Disney Cruise Line's largest rooms are Concierge Class cabins, and come in a wide array of prices. If you can snag one close to the $400 per person per night mark, you’ve got yourself a Disney cruise deal.
Related: Disney Cruises vs. Royal Caribbean
Pricing gets tricky on Disney cruises when it comes to adding people beyond the first two. And because it’s Disney, most people are adding kids to their staterooms. The basic premise is that the older the child, the more you will pay to add them to a stateroom. We found that adding a 13- to 17-year-old (or an adult) will cost between 60 and 77% of the fare paid for the first two passengers in the cabin, depending on the length of the cruise. Adding a 3- to 12-year-old will cost between 57% and 74% of the base fare and adding a 1- or 2-year-old adds 33 to 44% of the base.
Note that if you're using Disney's own cruise site, the price will at first look significantly higher than using a booking engine or other cruise line's website. So, don't get sticker shock when the price for a particular sailing starts at $2,067. What it means is that the lowest priced cabin they have available for the sailing is $920 per person plus port taxes and fees, for a total for two people of $2,067. Once you get used to it, it’s actually a nice feature you’ll wish other cruise lines would adopt so you aren’t hit with that big number after you’ve picked the stateroom of your dreams.
The best time to shop for Disney cruise deals happens at the time you are most likely to be dreaming of summer vacation -- January, February and March (wave season). Other than those three months, watch for Black Friday and Cyber Monday cruise deals. Expect prices for the Christmas and New Year's holidays to skyrocket.
What seasons are the cheapest for cruising with Disney? It depends on your destination, but for a Disney cruise in the Caribbean or Bahamas, expect high prices any time kids are out of school. Look for Disney cruise deals when schools are in session and during the months of September and October, which coincides with peak Atlantic hurricane season.
And don’t overlook shoulder seasons to find a Disney cruise deal. That’s the transition period between busy and not-so-busy times of year. For example, the Disney Alaska cruise shoulder seasons are late April to May and September through early October.
Wondering about Disney cruise drink deals? There are two major things you should know that set Disney cruise lines apart.
The first is that sodas are free at the soda stations at the buffet and on the pool deck. That eliminates the need for a soda package -- and should keep kids happy.
The second is that there are no traditional adult beverage packages. You can purchase a bottled wine package of 3, 5, or 7 bottles and there are drink specials like beer six packs, daily cocktail specials and a beer token for a reduced-price refill of your souvenir beer mug.
Other than those deals, you simply pay by the drink. Guests are allowed to bring two bottles of wine onboard on embarkation day in their carry-on luggage.
Let's start with the most basic tips you'll need to score a Disney cruise deal:
As on most cruise lines, newer ships have higher prices. In Disney’s case, that means cruises on Disney Wish will cost you more.
Check out Cruise Critic's Disney cruise deals, which rank bargains from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best deal possible.
Cruises that include Christmas and New Year’s holidays are expensive, but the weeks before and after can be great for bargain hunters. Look for cruises that end before December 23 or start January 2 or later for the deals.
Take advantage of Disney's Castaway Club loyalty program. You are automatically enrolled after your first Disney cruise. Discounts on cruises begin after your fifth cruise. Make sure you enter this number as you shop for future cruises on Disney.
Don’t forget to consider whether you're entitled to discounts for military or Florida residents on Disney cruises.
Always start shopping under the “Special Offers” heading on the Disney cruise website.
Where else should you look for the best Disney cruise deals?
We've found cruises from San Diego are consistently priced lower than from other ports.
Check six and eight-night cruises for deals. These lengths are oddballs, so fares per night are often lower.
Repositioning cruises are available on Disney, and like most cruise lines, the prices per night are lower.
Disney cruises have rooms that are some of the most spacious afloat, so inside and oceanview cabins are not as cheap as you’d find on other cruise lines. If you shop wisely, you may find balcony cabins for almost the same price as these less desirable rooms.
Like other cruise lines, you’ll find a next cruise desk on Disney ships, and they often have far better deals than you’ll find elsewhere.
Some of the lowest prices we found on Disney cruises were within 60 days of sailing, so the cheapest Disney cruise prices might be the ones that are almost last-minute deals.
Disney doesn’t allow you to shop online for Disney World and cruise packages, but you can check out the possible deals by calling your favorite travel agent or calling Disney directly for planning assistance.