If your family loves Disney, a Disney cruise may be something that is on your mind. Although you won’t be experiencing any attractions or rides, you will enjoy Disney magic while experiencing the world outside of Walt Disney World. Wondering when is the best time to take a Disney cruise? Here is our guide to figuring out the best options for your family.
Disclosure: Over the years we have taken media cruises on the Disney Cruise Line, and have paid full price for many of our sailings. This post contains affiliate links, and if you click through or purchase through one of these links, I may be paid a commission.
When booking a Disney Cruise, I recommend booking with Get Away Today. Plus, when you mention Family Travel Magazine, you get an extra $25 in onboard credits! Give their agents a call at 877-510-2929.
The Best Time To Take A Disney Cruise
When deciding the best time to take a Disney Cruise, you’ll need to look at a few factors. If you have older kids, you may be stuck with only just a few weeks of availability due to sports, work, and school commitments. My high school kids are so busy that school vacations are really the only times that we can travel for more than a weekend. These times are very fun to travel but are likely to be more expensive – including the airfare.
If your schedule is open, and you are looking for the best times to sail on a Caribbean/Bahamian itinerary, I’d recommend May. The weather is generally nice, it’s not one of the peak times, so prices and crowds aren’t too bad. If you have younger children who aren’t in school yet, definitely take advantage of that time. You also won’t have to worry about hurricane season at that point.
Pricing Considerations for Your Cruise
Pricing is one of the most important factors you should consider. As you’d expect, the peak times of the year, like holidays, spring break, and other school vacations, are when you’ll often see the highest prices. Some discounts, for military and Florida residents, for instance, are not offered on every sailing. Flexibility in booking can give you the opportunity to save some money.
It’s not just the cruise price that you should look at. If you are flying into the port or staying either a night before or a night after your cruise, the flights and hotels may also be more expensive during school vacations and holidays. So you’ll have to weigh whether the extra cost is worth the convenience of traveling during this time.
Some families choose to combine their family cruise with a trip to the theme parks for a Disney land and sea vacation. Again, this is usually a more expensive trip during holidays and school breaks – for both the parks and the cruise line.
When booking, it’s always a good idea to book early. Disney Castaway Club members can often book early when the cruise fares and itineraries are first announced. That way, you have your choice of stateroom categories and won’t be left with the more expensive rooms, especially if you are hoping for a more affordable room category. Interior staterooms and ocean view staterooms (porthole) can be cheaper options for your trip.
If you are already taking a cruise, doing onboard bookings can save you money. Your next cruise can be booked before the end of your cruise. You can book a placeholder if you aren’t sure what itinerary you want to experience next or don’t have your available dates handy. Keep in mind that some of those benefits may have blackout dates during holidays and special events.
You should also look at the price including travel insurance. It’s always a good idea to have your vacation spending protected. Travel insurance may also cover you if you have a medical emergency (but always check coverage) A good travel agent can help you find the best rates for your dates and may even offer onboard credit.
Crowds on Your Cruise
Like prices, crowd levels are often the highest during school vacations and holidays. Although you may only be able to travel during these busy times, it’s important to understand in advance that you’ll need to make your reservations as early as possible and arrive at the airport with plenty of time. On our last cruise, we had to fly on Christmas Day, and the airport was extremely crowded with many delays.
Once your reservation is booked, based on your Castaway Club level, you should also plan your shore excursions early. If you have a port adventure that is especially popular, it likely will book up during the busy sailings. Cabanas at Castaway Cay are especially difficult to book because the demand far exceeds the supply.
Special Events at Sea
Disney Cruise Line offers some special, themed sailings that can be so much fun. These special cruises include Halloween on the High Seas, Disney’s Very Merrytime Cruise, Marvel Day at Sea, Pixar Day at Sea, and Star Wars Day at Sea. During these sailings, you’ll get to experience things like a decorated cruise ship, themed shows, and special events.
Often, these sailings can be more expensive than cruises without a theme. So you’ll need to decide whether or not the special theme is worth it for your family. If you aren’t that excited about the extra decor/entertainment, you may want to save your money and opt for a standard cruise.
Weather is another factor in deciding the best time to take a Disney Cruise. If you are planning a Caribbean/Bahamian itinerary cruise, you’ll want to look at the average temperatures in the islands you’ll be visiting. These cruises are typically offered year-round, although the Bahamian temperatures tend to be cooler in the winter months.
I generally prefer the spring, summer, and fall months when cruising to the Bahamas. Even early December can be nice. Surprisingly, while the summer months are hot, they don’t feel too hot.
The southern Caribbean islands generally have warm temps year-round. It’s definitely important to look at hurricane season, however. A tropical storm or hurricane can affect your sailing so you’ll want to keep this in mind if you decide to cruise in these months. My last September sailing resulted in an extension of two extra days due to a hurricane in Florida.
Itineraries on the Disney Cruise Line
Some of the itineraries on the Disney Cruise Line are only offered at certain times of the year. Alaskan cruises, for example, are only offered during the late spring/summer months because of the cold weather the rest of the year.
Other limited sailings include Northern Europe and San Diego (but can vary by year). So, if you are looking to take one of those sailings, you’ll have limited options for timing.
Ages of Kids on the Disney Cruise Line
Instead of a time of year, you may be wondering what the best ages are to take a Disney Cruise with your kids. You won’t want to go when your kids are too young because they won’t be able to enjoy all of the activities and amenities.
I’d recommend waiting until your kids are old enough to enjoy the kids’ clubs. They are fantastic, and your kids will likely want to stay in the clubs for much of your time at sea. Although the regular youth clubs are open to kids 3 and up, my kids really had fun in them once they were about 5 years old.
After that age, I think that any kid would enjoy sailing on the Disney Cruise Line. We recently went on a trip with our 16 and 18-year-old, and they still have a great time sailing with Disney.
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