Monday, June 25, 2012

Booking A Disney Cruise

Disney is known worldwide for its excellent customer service and hospitality.  It's one of the many reasons we enjoy vacationing at Walt Disney World and aboard Disney Cruise Line's ships.  Booking a Disney Cruise is super simple...just follow our steps and you'll be on your way to Castaway Cay before you know it!

Step One:  Decide when you want to cruise.

There are many schools of thought here.  Some people like to cruise during the summer months because they don't have to pull children out of school.  Others prefer to cruise during the non-summer months because rates are cheaper and crowds are smaller.  Josh and I belong to the latter group, simply because we work in education and have frequent breaks throughout the school year. 

Think about your schedule carefully before making this decision!  You'll also need to factor in the travel time getting to and from the port of call.  After you've decided on the time of year, it's onto Step Two!

Step Two:  Decide where you want to cruise.

To begin this step, you'll need to access  You'll see a picture that looks like this:

In the left hand corner {white box}, you'll see several drop-down menus.  The first drop down menu says CHOOSE A DATE.  Simply click the drop-down menu and select the month/year that you desire.

Then you'll be free to choose a destination in the second drop down menu.

After that, you'll need to choose your departure port.

You'll also need to specify the number of people traveling in your party.  Then, you are free to click the "Find Cruise" button.

**Side note:  If you want to be more specific about your port of call, choose that first and then choose the date and destination. 

Step Three:  Choosing your cruise.

Your search results will show how many cruising options are available to you.  Though all those dollar signs can make you feel a bit queasy, ignore them for the time being!  Instead, look for the dates that fit best with the travel dates you had in mind. 

I selected the cruise that sets sail on November 16, 2013.  Then, you'll need to decide what type of stateroom you'd like. 

Step Four:  Choosing your stateroom.

For those of you that are veteran cruisers, you need no explanation of the varying degrees of staterooms.  This particular cruise features the following:
  • Inside Staterooms:  rooms that are on the interior of the ship.  These staterooms do not have a porthole or verandah that allows you to look at the ocean.
  • Oceanview Staterooms:  rooms that are on the exterior of the ship.  These staterooms have a porthole window.
  • Staterooms with Verandah:  rooms that are on the exterior of the ship.  These staterooms feature a verandah.
  • Concierge with Verandah:  rooms that are on the exterior of the ship.  These staterooms feature a verandah.  These staterooms also feature concierge service.

For most folks, the deciding factor is price.   For the purpose of this blog, I'm going to choose the cheapest option.  Once you've decided on your stateroom/price, click continue.  Your request will be processed.

Now it's time to personalize your cruise!

Step Five:  Personalize your cruise.

After your request has been processed, you'll get a first look at all the details about your cruise.

As you can see, this particular cruise sails to St. Maarten, St. Thomas/St. John, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Castaway Cay.  If you click View Cruise Details, you'll be able to see the day-to-day sailing schedule for your cruise.

This cruise has three days at sea and three stopovers.  If you scroll down, you'll see a lot of options.

Because I'm cruising with two adults, I've been assigned the later dining seating.  On Disney Cruise Line, rotational dining is implemented in two seatings.  The first seating is at 5:45.  This is generally reserved for people with small children.  The second seating begins at 8:15.  This is generally reserved for people with older children, teenagers, or no children at all. 

If you're assigned the earlier seating, you'll attend the later show.  If you're assigned the later seating, you'll attend the earlier show.  In all honesty, I've only attended the second seating for dinner, so I cannot offer a true opinion on the matter.  Josh and I enjoy the second seating because it's kid-free.  If you'd like to change your seating, simply click Change and put in your request. 

If you want/need to add air travel, a Disney resort, or ground transportation, you may click the links to do so.  Honestly, the cheapest route to go is to drive to Port Canaveral, stay at the Radisson Resort at the Port the night before your cruise, park for free, and ride their shuttle to Port Canaveral.  I've detailed our experiences at the Radisson here

This is also your chance to add any special requests {i.e. your celebrating something, you have dietary needs, etc.}.  If you click the link, you'll be given several generic options.  If you have something more specific, call 800-951-3532. 

You'll will not be allowed to add-on packages at this time.  You'll receive several documents in the mail that will specify when you may add-on packages, shore excursions, etc.

Step Six:  Vacation Insurance

Yes, you need it.  Just bite the bullet.

After you've added insurance, click Review Cruise & Pricing.

Step Seven:  Booking Your Cruise

This part is easy.

Click Book Now.

Step Seven:  Paying for your cruise.

This part is not so easy.  How you pay for your cruise is up to you.  If you want to pay for the cruise in its entirety, you can input your credit card number and you're done.  You can also pay a down payment of $200 and continue making monthly payments on your cruise.  

My husband and I follow Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, so we don't believe in credit card debt.  Really, we don't believe in credit cards...except our Disney Visa.  Months before we plan on booking a cruise, we estimate the price and save up cold, hard cash.  We do not book the cruise until we've saved the exact amount that we need.  Then, we book using our Disney Visa and then immediately pay off the card.  We use a Disney Visa because you receive Disney Dollars which can be spent on board the ship. 

Step Eight:  Planning shore excursions.

In the months leading up to your cruise, you're going to receive a lot of mail.  These documents will specify when you may book shore excursions, spa treatments, and others things like specialty dining at Remy or Palo.  Pay attention to the dates they specify, because space goes quickly! 

If you're unsure about when to book, simply call 800-951-3532 and the Cast Member on the line can answer all of your questions. 

Q & A

Will I need a passport?  Honestly, it's best to have a passport.  The only time you'll need it is when you're checking in at Port Canaveral.  Once aboard the ship, just stick it in your room safe.
Are there characters on the cruise?  YES!  In fact, it's easier to see characters on a Disney Cruise than it is to see them at Disney World! 

What should I pack?  Click here for a great list of what to pack for a Disney Cruise.

Should I complete online check-in?  Absolutely.  It streamlines the process tremendously.  You can complete online check-in up to ten days before the cruise.  

So there you have it!  Booking a Disney Cruise is pretty painless {except on your pocketbook} and the memories you make are worth the cost.  If you have further questions about booking a Disney Cruise online, feel free to ask in the comment section below.  If we can't answer your question, we'll find someone who can!

If you want to read more about our recent adventures aboard the Disney Dream, click here for Day One, click here for Day Two, and here for Day Three. 

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