The first step in planning your vacation on the Disney Cruise Line is picking a cruise.
Be sure to visit our list of tips and tricks for planning a Disney Cruise.
Deciding which ship and itinerary starts your Disney Cruise planning. As compared to other cruise lines, Disney’s list of cruises is much shorter and simpler. There are only four ships in the Disney Cruise Line.
The Disney Magic and Wonder were the first two ships built just for the Disney. You may remember the Big Red Boat. After a few years of working with another cruise line, Disney ordered their own ships. These two ships are sisters, meaning they are the same size and same layout. The Magic, however, recently had a massive refurbishment. The ship was re-imagineered completely. These two ships hold about 2,400 passengers.
The next two ships are the Disney Fantasy and Dream. These are Disney’s newest ships. Like the Magic and Wonder, the Fantasy and Dream are sisters also. Disney built these much larger than their first two ships. The Fantasy and Dream can hold almost double the number of passengers at 4,100 each. They also feature the first ever water coaster on sea, the AquaDuck. If your child has seen a commercial for the Disney Cruise, having the Aquaduck may be a requirement.
Most of the year the Fantasy, Dream and Magic sail from Port Canaveral. The Magic does take a few months to tour Europe. The Wonder is based out of Texas or California. For most people you’ll be sailing from Port Canaveral.
The Fantasy does 7 night cruises. The Dream does 3 and 4 night trips. The Magic does a combination of 4, 5, and 7 night trips out of Port Canaveral.
First you’ll need to decide when you want to cruise. Then pick the number of nights. Keep in mind that prices for the same cruise can vary greatly by season. While searching for our next cruise the price changed more than $3,000 between July and January. Summer, Spring Break, Thanksgiving are all times that will add cost to your Disney Cruise.
The laws of supply and demand also cause pricing changes for the entire cruise industry. On a cruise line such as Royal Caribbean, they have more than 20 ships sailing. As the date for a cruise gets closer, they offer sales and special to make sure each ship is full.
Disney Cruise Line only has 4 ships. Supply and demand work in the opposite way! Supply is very limited and demand is high. The closer to the sailing date, the higher the price. You can occasionally catch specials and sales for last minute travel on the Disney Cruise Line, but don’t plan on that! If you can, plan and book early! We booked our first Disney Cruise more than a year ahead of the sailing date. The price for our room type went up more than $600 by the time of sailing.
Once you decide when to go, now you can look at Disney’s website to see which ships are sailing for those dates. You’ll need to decide how long you want to sail.
We have heard from friends that the 3 night cruise is fun but very rushed. The price difference between a 3 night and 4 night is very small. Based on that, we don’t recommend the 3 night cruise.
We have done 4 and 7 nights with Disney. Both of these lengths allowed us to enjoy all the cruise activities, excursions, restaurants, and shows. The 4 night is a much quicker pace to the trip. With the extra 3 nights, you do feel a lot more relaxed. We did the 7 night first. Like a first timer at WDW, we went commando style through those 7 nights hardly taking breaks to enjoy and relax.
So you have decided on when, you have decided on how long, now you look at your options for ports of call.
All of the trips out of Port Canaveral have a stop at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. Each year there are a few cruises that have a “double dip”, stopping at Castaway Cay twice. These are usually in the summer.
Besides going to Castaway Cay, Disney’s cruises visit Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, San Juan, Nassau, St. Thomas, and more. You can use the Disney Cruise Line website to browse through the options.
Having said all that, here’s how we picked our next cruise.
As we get closer to November, we know are Annual Passes for Disney World are expiring. We have been talking as a family what to do for our family vacation in 2015. We discussed going to Disneyland, Universal, or renewing the APs. Every time we discussed the issue, Brooke only had 1 request – Disney Cruise.
We finally decided if we were going to cruise, we better get to planning!
First we had to find possible dates that would work around our work schedules, school, Pow Wows, and Brooke’s summer camps.
Our first plan was to try for a double dip. None of these dates worked with our schedules however. We continued to look through the summer and spring break options, but found nothing.
Okay, so maybe we go during the school year. We try not to take Brooke out of school if we can help it. But we also know that taking her out now is better than next year in middle school. So we checked the school calendar and found a week with a day school is closed–MLK weekend. This works great for all 3 of us. We all have that day off.
So we have the week, now we needed to look at trips. Since the refurb of the Magic, Brooke has wanted to go on that ship. We found a 7 night cruise for that week on the Magic, and booked it!
We leave on January 18 for 7 nights onboard the Disney Magic. We’ll be heading to Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Castaway Cay!
We hope this helps you decide on which Disney Cruise trip to take with your family!