When’s the best time to take a Disney Cruise Line cruise?

When is the best time to take a Disney Cruise?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:

  1. Destination/Ports of Call
  2. Cruise Ship
  3. Weather
  4. Cost

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). 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.

Cruise Ship

Disney Cruise Line’s four 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.

Weather

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 Disney Cruise Lines’ 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 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.

Cost

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 are always free to you!

Disney Cruise Line Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas

2 thoughts on “When’s the best time to take a Disney Cruise Line cruise?

  1. Felicia Henry

    I want to surprise my boys with a cruise but not until 2020 if the price is right. Then maybe an alaska trip in 2022. Do not want a cruise around bad weather or season of alot of people.

    Reply
  2. AJRitz Post author

    A cruise is a great surprise Felicia!
    The best way to ensure you get the best possible price on your Disney Cruise Line cruise is to book as early as possible. Because Disney Cruise Line consistently sails at full capacity without discounting, the pricing works a bit differently than many people expect. Prices are lowest when they first open for booking, and as each stateroom category fills up, the price for staterooms in that category creeps higher. You can generally book as much as 18-19 months in advance (for example, itineraries through the end of December, 2018 just opened for booking a couple of weeks ago). All that’s required up front is a deposit, equal to 20% of the cruise fare (not included taxes and port fees). That deposit will lock in your specific stateroom and pricing, and final payment will not be due until much closer to sailing time (exact final payment dates vary somewhat by cruise length, sailing date, and room category booked). With only a few exceptions, that deposit is fully refundable until the final payment date.

    I’ll be working on new blog posts soon, talking about the similarities/differences between the various Disney Cruise Line ships and their itineraries. Remember, there’s always a tradeoff between pricing and the risk of bad weather (fares are lower when there is a risk of bad weather), but you can also protect yourself from the worst of weather issues with travel insurance. I would expect to see the first of the 2020 itineraries to open for booking probably some time in October, 2018. Long-term planning/price projection for 2022 is particularly challenging. Disney Cruise Line is scheduled to have two new ships coming online, one in 2021 and another in 2023. It’s anyone’s best guess at this point what impact that might have on pricing for the entire fleet.

    As far as crowds go, one of the nice things about cruises is that while pricing is seasonal, there is very little variation in the number of people on any given sailing. Sailing capacity is determined by a variety of factors, but a major component is life boat capacity, which is based on a somewhat complicated formula. There are limits on the number of people in different age categories that can be placed in each life boat, and life boats are linked to specific staterooms for access purposes. The bottom line is that a “full” boat does not mean that every stateroom is occupied, and virtually every Disney Cruise Line cruise sails at or very near full. To sail with a smaller number of guests, you’ll probably want to look at itineraries on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, as the guest capacity of each is about 60% of the capacity of the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream. (For a bit of context, even a completely full Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy carries roughly 7%-8% of the number of people who visit the Magic Kingdom each day.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow

Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Email address