I'm trying to get my arms around this cruising stuff. I haven't really decided on which cruise line I'd like, let alone which ship, but I thought I would start exploring Disney. I want to plan a cruise for my family - husband, wife, son 11 and son 9. From what I've read, I'm kind of narrowing it down to Disney, Carnival, Princess or Royal Caribbean, not necessarily in that order, because of their kids programs.
What is the cheapest time for a family cruise, excluding the fall hurricane season? We can pull our kids out of school for a week, so I'd think that going not in the summer and not around Christmas would be best, right? The best for us would be the week of January 3, 2004? What about early December? Any help regarding which ship, cruise line and dates would be greatly appreciated.
Don't hesitate to go on a cruise during hurricane season - I have been a travel agent and cruise specialist for almost 10 years and I can remember only 2 occasions when cruises were cancelled because of hurricanes. A ship is one of the safest places to be because the ship can move out of the way of the storm! A lot of times you will never know that you are near a hurricane because you see no clouds and all sunshine.
Early December is a GREAT time to go on a Disney cruise - they have good value rates and booking early is the best bet because Disney sticks to a tiered-pricing program like glue. The ships are almost always sold out so they have no reason to sell last-minute bargains. Hurricane season is a good time to go because prices are good and the crowds are smaller. Basically, any time that the kids are out of school is a good time to cruise.
I'm not sure when the cheapest time to travel is. I guess you could contact a travel agent to help you answer that question or just shop around for the best deal.
I cruised on the Disney Magic and I personally think Disney is way overpriced. Disney does not give many if any deals. You mentioned the kid's programs...that's why we chose Disney but our kids were younger than yours and did NOT take advantage of the programs. All they wanted to do was swim in the pool. Our kids were 3 and 6 at the time of our cruise. If we were to cruise again we would choose Royal Caribbean. Like you said they have great kids programs also. I say Royal Caribbean because I know several people who have cruised RC and they all raved about it plus you can cruise RC for less than you can cruise Disney. Just my opinion. If I can be of any more help feel free to email me.
Good luck with your cruise planning. I hope you get a great deal.
Keep in mind that RC has some of the smallest cabins in the industry. Usually it is cheapest the week after New Years and the holidays when the entire travel industry is soft. Also check for early booking savings for cruise lines. While I am about to go on Disney this weekend, I use to do marketing for Cunard. Soft periods are usually a funny variable in the industry - it depends on consumer demand, hence sometimes the best deals can be found 3 months out when the line knows it is not selling select sailing dates. I hope this helps a little bit! I would choose Disney - bigger cabins and bigger bathrooms!