How to Plan a Disney Cruise - Choosing a Cruise

Before you Book a Cruise

Ideally your cruise planning should start 18-24 months before you ever sail.  A cruise is unique in that the prices come out about 18 months ahead of time.  Usually the best price for a cruise is opening day and will increase up until sale date. 

If you begin your planning at the two-year mark what should you be doing?  If you are new to cruising, you might want to consider using a Travel Agent.  Planning a Disney Cruise is complicated, and an experienced Disney Travel Agent can help walk you through the process.  You do not pay the travel agent, Disney does.  Be leery of any travel agent that charges a service fee. You might want to pick a travel agent that gives onboard credit to maximize your savings.  Onboard credit is when a travel agent uses some of their commission from Disney and puts it into your Disney Cruise onboard account.  It is free money to you that can be used to pay your tips, Bingo, mixology, excursions, Palo or Remy, drink of the day or other alcohol, and coffee and tea at the cove café; even shopping on the ship!  Costco Travel doesn’t give onboard credits, instead they give a rebate check to be used at a Costco store.  A travel agent is more than free money though.  Your travel agent will book your cruise and make sure your full payment is made on time, so your reservation doesn’t cancel.  Your travel agent must book your cruise, put all monies on the cruise, and make any changes to your cruise.  They can help you choose the right excursion for your family, but you get to book them.  A good travel agent can be your lifeline if it is your first cruise or your 50th.

Picking a Cruise Destination

Once you have found your travel agent you can decide where to go for your cruise.  Do you want to go to the Caribbean or maybe Europe?  Some cruises only operate specific times of the year.  What time of year do you want to sail?  Your travel agent can help you decide which cruise is best for your family.  There are so many choices it may seem overwhelming, but when you step on the ship that first day it will all be worth it.  Disney cruises are amazing because of their attention to details, service is second to none, and the cabins are up to 25% bigger than other cruise lines.

At two years before your cruise you are going to have about six months to tentatively decide where you are going, when you can go, where on the ship you want to be and where you are sailing from.

Disney has four ships with three more on the way beginning in early 2022.  Right now, the Dream sails mainly to the Bahamas; typically 3-4 day cruises.  The Magic sails to Europe in the summer, out of New York in the fall, transatlantic twice a year and Caribbean the rest of the year.  The Wonder does Alaska in the summer, Hawaii in the spring, Panama Canal, and Mexico.  In the winter it will sail to the Caribbean. The Fantasy does the Caribbean year-round, eastern and western with a longer southern cruise each summer.  Disney currently sails from Port Canaveral, New York, Galveston, Miami, San Diego, New Orleans and Vancouver.  As well as many European and Mediterranean ports.  The best way to begin your planning is to choose the port you want to depart from, then choose when you want to go.  When you can go may not mesh with the port you want to depart from.  Usually when you can go will dictate your port.

Choosing a Room Category

Next you choose where on the ship you want to be.  First choose your type of cabin.  Do you want inside, ocean view, Verandah or Concierge?

Inside cabins are smaller and have no ocean views on the Magic and the Wonder.  Both the Fantasy and the Dream will have a ‘Magic porthole’ which shows a live video feed of the ocean.  Inside cabins also come with a choice of one bathroom or a split bath.  The split bathroom has a bathroom with a tub/shower and sink and the other has a toilet and sink. Inside cabins are about 184 square feet, and 200 sq. feet with a split bath.  These rooms fit three or four people.  There is a queen bed, a sofa bed and in rooms with a capacity for four there will be an upper berth.

Ocean view rooms have one large or two small port holes.  They also have a split bath.  These cabins are about 214 square feet and sleep 4.  There is also a deluxe family ocean view that sleeps five.  It is about 240 square feet.  Not all of these rooms have a split bath.  Cabins 5050, 5022, 5520, 5522, 6514, and 6016 have one bathroom with a tub and shower.

The Verandah staterooms are larger because the verandah is counted in the square footage.  These cabins fit four people with the exception of a navigators verandah which sleeps three.  These cabins are approximately 268 square feet, and all have a split bath.  There is also a family stateroom with verandah that sleeps five.  It is about 304 sq. feet.

In concierge you will find suites that are big enough to sleep 5-7 people.  There is the Royal Suite, which on the Wonder and Magic is 1029 square feet, and on the Dream and Fantasy it is approximately 1780 square feet.  These suites sleep 7, have two bedrooms, 2  1/2 bathrooms a living room and walk in closets.  These are the Walt Disney and Roy Disney concierge suites, cabins 8030 and 8530.  There is also a two-bedroom suite. Like the royal suite there are only two of them.  Cabins 8016 and 8516. These suites are about 945 sq. feet, each with two bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and can sleep 6 people. This category is only on the Magic and the Wonder.   Finally, we have the one-bedroom suite. The cabins are about 614 square feet and can comfortably sleep five people.  Cabins in concierge include the following:  you can book excursions 120 days out, no matter the castaway club level.  You will also have fine bedding, pillow choices, H2O plus spa products, a robe and slippers, a media library of CDs and Blu-Ray DVDs and two 42-inch flat screen TVs to watch them on.  In addition to this you get special treats delivered, cans of coke products and more!

The variety of stateroom types, sub-types, and locations is overwhelming.  There are so many choices we have an article just on stateroom categories: Disney Cruise Room Types And Categories Explained


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