My family has it in our combined heads to take a Disney cruise next spring. None of us have ever been on a cruise before. I might consider another cruise line with a good kids program, but Disney is definitely our first choice.
What are the secrets to bargain shopping/booking for a Disney cruise? Where should I check prices? When's the best time to make reservations (how far in advance)? What's the best deal regarding which cabin/deck to choose? Do the rates vary much by month or week?
A good place to start is using the feature here at Cruisemates called "bargain finder", just simply fill in all the information and then any travel agents that have some good deals will e-mail you. Also check the Cruise Bazaar here on the home page daily, usually lots of good deals. Hope this all works out for you, here is the link to the bargain finder:
most cruise lines are hurting for business right now, so you could probably get a good deal. I would talk to a local travel agent.- most travel agents will get you a great deal or match a deal you find, let them do the leg-work for you its so much easier especially since you are a first-timer. Look in your Sunday paper for group tours to save money, most cruise lines have early booking discounts, if you are planning on traveling during school vacation on Disney book it now!! Disney fills up really fast. Cabin prices vary greatly according to cabin class and which deck.
I'm the family cruise editor. Disney tends to have lower rates when older kids are in school such as January and the first half of February; May; and then in Sept-November. If price is a main consideration, then it's best to cruise with Disney during these times.
They have their excellent youth program all year round. While some lines have much fewer children participating in the youth programs during off season cruises, Disney and Carnival will have the most kids sailing aboard even when school is in session.
Keep us posted of your decision.
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Our family cruised on the Disney Wonder in February 2000 when our daughters were 5 and 7. It was a great experience and what a deal we got! We actually responded to an ad for a SALE from Disney but ended up going through our travel agent so they could get the fee. If you can get an off week, you can save alot. Going just a few days before or after a typical holiday time, like spring break, would bring down the price. Get onto the Disney Cruiselines website and check every other week for their special deals. We took a land/sea package with 3 days at the Caribbean Beach Resort on Disney property, followed by a 4-day cruise on the Disney Wonder. We had a complete Disney package and even had them book our airfare. Once you check in with them at the airport, you need do nothing else. They take care of your bags, help you fill out your paperwork, and their bus whisks you away to their resort (with a video onboard that shows you what the park and the cruise will be like). At the resort, the room "key" will be all you need to get into your resort room, go to the parks and get into your cabin on board the ship. All the parks were included in the package, including the water parks, and the kids had a blast in each of them. They bus you from the resort to the ship and embarkation is easy and fun. We highly recommend the Disney cruise and resort package. Their kids program is very organized, you get a beeper and peace of mind. The kids have opportunities to interact with ALL the Disney characters, everywhere on the ship. There's a line for many of them, but at the kids programs they get to see them and even be in a show with them at the end of the trip. There's an adults-only swimming pool, which is nice but very crowded, and an adults-only restaurant which has to be booked practically the moment you get on the ship, it's so popular. What we particularly liked about the restaurants is you get to dine in a different one each night but with the same serving staff, who get to know you and your kids and so anticipate your every need. The family pool has a huge slide that the kids adored-the line is always long for that one. Feel free to post again or contact us if we can answer any questions, but I highly recommend you log onto the Disney website. Be careful while trying to get them-there are a slew of websites for travel agencies that look like their the Disney website. But there's only one DISNEY.