Other Disney Cruise Posts
Booking details of our Disney Cruise Vacation- oh and our kids had no idea until we picked them up out of school at 130pm to catch our 330pm flight!
I am not sure how we ended up on a Disney Cruise, but we did. We like Mickey, but we have never been die hard Disney vacation fans. We have been to Animal Kingdom in Orlando, but have never been to Epcot or other Disney parks there. Although we do like to throw in a good theme park if the destination we are visiting has one. That’s why we have been to Disney Paris, Disney Tokyo, and Disneyland in Anaheim. (among other theme parks) So Mrs. Trup’s parents asked if I could plan a Disney Cruise vacation where we each pay our own way. I never turn down a vacation so I said sure for a 6 person vacation.
Now Disney Cruises are not cheap, and there are not really any great discounts off of the advertised prices. You can buy gift cards from an office supply store and get 5x points on some credit cards. Or you can use certain credit card like Capital One among others to use points for travel expenses. Those are good examples, but we are not talking about getting a free cruise or 50% off. The cruise prices also vary quite a bit based on the time. Of course holidays and summer are most expensive when kids are out of school. The example below is just for 2 adults and 2 kids and you can see its fairly cheap in January, and expensive during the summer, and then very expensive during the holidays. It can be a 50-90% difference just over a few weeks. So that’s why we decided to go in January! While I would have loved to do a longer cruise, that’s just more expenses and more time off school and we weren’t sure how our kids would no on a cruise so 3 days seemed perfect for us.
We could not find any travel agencies that had discounts either. But we did use Allison at Dreams Unlimited who was awesome to work with. While the pricing was the same as the Disney website, we did get a $250 onboard credit and a good personal booking experience. We picked a few different weekends that were on the cheaper side and then searched for airfare. Leaving from OKC, there are not a lot of great flights. After having 2 southwest companion passes for the past 4 years, we were only able to secure 1 for 2018/2019. Booking through Dreams was very straightforward and required deposit upfront with remainder about 75 days before the cruise. We had minimum spend requirements on new credit cards so this helped nicely with that.
We didn’t want to pick a cheap cruise time and then pay a high airfare amount, but realized all the airfare was about the same for the dates we wanted. Eventually we settled on Mid-January when our kids would already have a day off. So a least they are missing one less day of school. Our kids are good students (school spelling bee champion!) so at this stage in their life we don’t mind taking them out for a great experience. We will see if this changes as they get holder. And there will be homework on board! We knew we wanted to use book Southwest flights as they were the cheapest and we had one companion pass. Knowing plans change and weather in January can be unpredictable we wanted to use points as Southwest has the best change policy if you use points- they just get re-deposited back to your account. Flights per person were 22k points or $356 for the times we wanted. We also booked Mrs. Trup parents using points and they just paid back us back in cash. That way if something changed between June when we booked and January when we departed, its essentially fully refundable.
We decided we wanted an extra full day or 2 nights in Orlando so we can relax a lil before the cruise and go to Sea World. (I figured we would have enough Mickey for the next few days and opted not to go to Disney) Airfare was also a lil cheaper leaving 2 days before the cruise compared to the day before. As well as have plenty of travel time built in in case there is some snowstorm that delays travel. Whenever booking a vacation far in advance, I like to book a hotel immediately that’s refundable and then revisit when it gets closer. In Orlando you have lots of choices, and I just decided to go with an Embassy Suites on International Drive that was about $130 pre taxes and fees to start with. While I could have used points, hotels are cheap so I just decided to plan with the cash rate and the revisit it later. Now if you are staying close to Disney or at a higher end hotel, using points may be a good value. So total for 2 rooms and we were staying 2 consecutive nights would be about $600. This was booked in June. In December I started looking at VRBO’s and found a 3 bedroom 1500 sqft condo off of International drive for $405 with all service fees. While I love getting hotel credits and points, I love additional space more. Since I knew we would be crammed into a small cruise room for the next 3 nights, $405 was cheap and had a lot of room. So we went with the VRBO.
Now from Orlando to port Canaveral there are several ways to get there and it all depends on how much flexibility you need. Several people may come in the night before or the morning of the cruise, and then leave right after the cruise. This may make sense to book a taxi service or the Disney Buses which are $70 per person round-trip. For our family of 6 we needed more flexibility since we were visiting Sea World, as well as we had a late flight after the cruise so we decided to visit Kennedy Space Center. We paid about $300 for a Minivan through AVIS, and then parking at the port was $68. This would have been compared to $420 for a Disney Bus for the 6 of us.
In this post I didnt get into many tips or my opinions as this was just the planning phase. Stay tuned for upcoming detailed posts and reviews of all aspects of the cruise!