I frequently get asked when the best time is to take a Disney Cruise Line cruise. Once I recover from my gut reaction (as soon as possible!) I explain that it really depends on the relative importance you place on each of the following factors:
- Destination/Ports of Call
- Cruise Ship
If any of those four factors are substantially more important to you than the others, that factor alone may very quickly focus your planning, as that choice may narrow your options substantially. Each person or family will have a unique perspective on which of these factors are most important.
Destinations/Ports of Call
Disney Cruise Line is a growing cruise line and continues to expand both its origination ports and its ports of call. But it still only has four ships (construction of fifth and sixth ships was recently announced, but they’re not expected to be sailing before 2020/2021). [Note: In July 2017, Disney Cruise Line announced that a third new ship would join the other two, with one new ship debuting each year from 2021 to 2023]. As a result, some destinations and ports are only available during particular times of the year. If you want to see Alaska on Disney Cruise Line, you’ll have to sail in the summer. The Disney Wonder only sails Alaska itineraries from late May through August. Disney Cruise Line now offers several different European itineraries on the Disney Magic, but each itinerary only sails a handful of times per year. If the British Isles is your preferred destination, your only chance on that itinerary is (usually) in early July. On the other hand, if you just want sunny Caribbean or Bahamian ports, those are available year-round.
The four Disney Cruise Line ships each have their own itinerary niche. And if the controlling factor for you is a particular ship, that will limit your date and itinerary options. My son, for example, insists that he loves Disney cruising, but he ONLY wants to sail on a ship that has an AquaDuck. AquaDuck water coasters are only available on the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, so if we’re going to sail on a ship with an AquaDuck, we won’t be sailing to Alaska or the Mediterranean (for example). Other people prefer the “classic” Disney Cruise Line ships. The Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are somewhat smaller than their sister ships, and some prefer the more intimate experience. That means being flexible with your destinations, as the Magic and Wonder move all around the world, and embark from several different ports, while the Dream and Fantasy always depart from Port Canaveral, Florida.
When people ask about cruise weather, usually they’re asking about hurricane season. Officially, the Caribbean hurricane season runs from June though November. However, hurricane activity has historically been much more prevalent and much more intense between about August 15 and October 20. Disney Cruise Line and its ship captains do a remarkable job of minimizing the impact of tropical storms and hurricanes on cruise passengers. But if you’re concerned about weather impacting your cruise, those would be the dates to avoid. Some cruisers especially enjoy Bahamas itineraries between January and mid-March, when temperatures are 10-15 degrees cooler on average. Others, especially those who enjoy ocean excursions like snorkeling, may avoid those dates for the same reason.
The other weather considerations to keep in mind when planning a cruise are the weather conditions at home. A Caribbean or Bahamian cruise in the winter months, especially for those of us who live in colder and/or snowier climes, can be a welcome warm-up. By the same token, you may want to build-in an extra day for travel, to ensure that a weather situation at home doesn’t prevent you from making it to your embarkation port. And while I personally think that some form of travel insurance is always a good idea, especially for cruise vacations, that’s particularly true for cruises that may be impacted by weather issues either at home or at sea.
There can be significant variations in price for the same Disney Cruise Line itinerary on different dates, especially for the “bread-and-butter” Caribbean cruises on the Disney Fantasy and Bahamas cruises on the Disney Dream. The same exact stateroom on a Disney Fantasy 7-night Western Caribbean cruise may be 60% more expensive in June than in September. That price differential is also true comparing the cost of a 3-Night Bahamas cruise on the Disney Dream in July to the identical itinerary and stateroom in September. In fact, that 7-night cruise on the Fantasy in September may even by less expensive than a 4-night Bahamas cruise on the Disney Dream in July. Like most cruise lines, Disney Cruise Line Caribbean and Bahamian cruises in the Fall (during hurricane season) are generally the least expensive. School vacation dates do seem to have a greater impact on Disney Cruise Line pricing than on most other cruise lines, especially in the Summer and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Spring.
Mouse Master℠ Travel agents are skilled at helping each client weigh these factors to figure out what the best choice is for each client’s family. We recognize that there’s no single answer to, “when’s the best time to take a Disney Cruise Line cruise?” that fits for everyone – let us help you find the best choice for you and your family! Contact us for a free, no-obligation vacation quote. And remember, Mouse Mouse Travel’s professional services related to commissionable travel are always free to you!
Disney Cruise Line Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas