Thursday 22 September 2011

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Disney Cruise Line - The Pricing

There must be something about sending the kids back to school that makes peoples thoughts turn to vacation.  I've had a whole bunch of people come to me in the last couple of weeks asking about our experiences with the Disney Cruise Line.  Now this isn't exactly my area of expertise (Do I have an area of expertise?  Sleeping maybe?) and it was the first time we tried a cruise as a holiday, so I have no basis for comparison with other cruise lines. That being said, I'm happy to share our experiences with you and let you draw your own conclusions.

Let's start with the sobering news, the price.  Disney isn't cheap.  I'm sure that comes as a shock to some of you (specifically those of you who live in a place where there's no movies, TV, or internet) but you should be aware of what you're getting in to.  Fortunately, like every other cruise line, it does Disney no good to sail with empty cabins, so they do run specials.  We were lured aboard by the "Kids Sail Free" promo, which seems to be a fallback promo for Disney that they run quite often.  It normally doesn't run during school holidays, but in this case the last week of the promo turned out to be the first week of our spring break in Canada.

The really good news about the Kids Sail Free promo is that you're not limited to a one-to-one ratio.  This is the rule that kills almost all "Kids do ____ free" specials for me, as we are a family of five, so I never get the full benefit.  With Kids Sail Free, you pay for the adults, and all of your kids sail free.  It's a very good deal, but before you run around legally adopting all of your kids friends, there is a drawback.

The kids who sail free, must be staying in your room, and Disney cruise ship rooms cap out at five people (unless you're taking a suite, but if you've got that kind of money you probably don't care if your kids sail free). Also, the rooms that hold five people are all on the higher decks and come with verandas, thus making the cost for the paying adults higher.  There's also the fact that even when they're not sailing free, kids don't pay full price on the Disney ships.  Still, to figure out whether or not it's a good deal, let's look at an example.  I don't have my costs from our trip handy, so let's look at what it would cost for spring break this year (not that I've been tracking this week, waiting for a sale or anything...):

Looks expensive, but under the Kids Sail Free promo, it's a whole lot cheaper.  You'd be paying $1631 x 2 plus $222 in tax (you're not getting out of that).  Does anybody not have a credit card that provides vacation insurance for them?  So get rid of that as well.  Now your total for a family of five will come out to around $3485 for a seven day Mexican Riviera cruise.  Much better, but how much is that third free kid costing you?  Here's the pricing for a family of four, who are able to step down to a lower end cabin:

So now getting rid of the cost for the kids and the insurance, your cost for the week is $1760, almost half.  Of course you're buried in the bottom level of the ship, and have no windows at all, but for half price (or better yet, cruising two weeks instead of one) I'd probably be willing to make that sacrifice.  We, however, have three kids, so the discount on the top cabin was good enough for us (and we enjoyed the heck out of our verandah to make up for it).

Whew!  Enough of my "math geek" side.  Disney runs some other promos such as locals pricing, but if you're traveling with kids your best bet is usually the Kids Sail Free promo.  Now, for those of you who asked about this stuff, if I haven't scared you off with the numbers, I'll start talking about the actual cruise tomorrow.


  1. I've never been on a cruise before, so it's nice to see this pricing breakdown.

    And it looks like you need to do something with that third kiddo of yours. Just kidding!! ;) But dang, the financial difference is steep.

  2. Do take in to account that this is a Disney cruise, so there is a premium being paid that isn't necessary unless you have kids or you're a huge Disney fan. There are certainly cheaper options.

    You don't want to upset the third child! She votes for you every day in the photo contest (She thinks your puppy is cute!)

  3. We did a Disney cruise recently and I wouldn't do it again. They are just very overpriced compared to other cruise lines and, with the kids clubs and activities, I think many of the cruise lines are just as good as Disney.

  4. I'll confess that price is probably the major objection that I hear when it comes to Disney cruises Jan. For us, we had no interest in doing a cruise, and were lured in solely by the Disney name (and the Kids Sail Free, of course). Now that we know how much fun it is, we would love to go try out other cruise lines.
    I'm envious that you've gotten to try so many, and you can bet I'll be scouring your site for some tips.

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