10 Reasons to Book Your Disney Cruise Early

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Well, the rumors are strong right now that the release of the rest of 2015 Disney Cruise Line itineraries is imminent. There’s no predicting what lies in the minds of Disney executives, but there is a precedent for this. The summer and fall itineraries for 2014 came out the second week of February in 2013. And, the summer itineraries for 2013 came out the last week of January in 2012. So it’s time folks!

The million-dollar question for cruisers is – book now or wait? Well, Touring Plans has created an ingenious tool to help you decide – the Fare Tracker! The Fare Tracker tracks historical prices of itineraries and dates. Were the prices lowest on the first day of booking, or was there a last minute sale? Did the prices stay the same? Or go up faster than Carl’s house once it was attached to the balloons in Up? If you are currently eyeing a specific itinerary and date, go look at what happened to the prices of a similar cruise over the last few years. You may feel like you can wait a while! But if you’re torn on booking early, here are some reasons you may want to consider it.

1. Good Prices – After just a few minutes of checking out the Fare Tracker, you’ll see that some prices are almost certainly going up. New itineraries, holiday sailings, and summer sailings are good examples. Some cruises go up hundreds of dollars from opening-day prices, sometimes in a matter of hours on opening day. If your cruise is predicted to go up, you should seriously consider booking the day, no the moment, it’s released for booking.

2. Connecting Rooms Are Available – It’s not surprising that on a family-oriented cruise line, connecting rooms are in high demand. And all rooms do not connect! The classic ships were not built with nearly enough connecting rooms and they frequently disappear quickly on opening day. Disney recognized their mistake and built the Dream and Fantasy with more connecting rooms. They also added some doors to make more rooms connect on the Magic during its re-imagineering this fall. Still, they are a limited supply. If connecting rooms are important, or essential if you’re splitting up your immediate family, book early!

3. “Secret” Categories Are Available – What goes faster than connecting rooms? Secret rooms! Of course there’s no secret that they’re there, but you may not know that they’re better than advertised! As I discussed in a previous blog post, the Magic and Wonder both have some oceanview rooms that are categorized as inside rooms because of obstructions. Some of the rooms classified as navigator rooms are actually normal, open verandahs with slight obstructions. Since these secret rooms aren’t well kept secrets, they book up quickly. Get them fast!

4. More Availability in All Categories – Forget connecting rooms and secret rooms, booking early gives you the best selection of any category. If you’re after a specific category or location, this is your chance. Maybe you would like a mini-suite oceanview room on the Dream and Fantasy like some category 8A’s are laid out? Maybe you want the huge verandahs many 5E’s have? Act quick!

5. Main Dining – Main (early) dining always fills up more quickly than late dining. I’m very hesitant to use words like always, but trust me. Always. I have never tried to book late dining and found it full and had to go with early. Main dining is almost always full at some point before sailing. If you booked late and want early dining, don’t give up! The waitlist frequently works (or you can often change your dining time once onboard the ship if you ask early). But if you want to be sure to get it, book earlier rather than later.

6. Payments – Are you a spender or a saver? If you’re a saver, you probably don’t need #6. I’m sure you will diligently save your money and be all ready to pay it off when your final payment date comes. For the spenders out there, (yes dear, I’m looking in the mirror) having more time to pay it off may be a good idea. Disney only requires a deposit and the final payment, but you can make as many payments in between as you would like. If you (or your spouse) are afraid you’ll spend the vacation money as quickly as you make it, book a cruise far in the future and make some intermediate payments! If you need to, tell your travel agent to make a payment every month! Don’t leave it up to your own (spending) hands!

7. You May Still Be Able to Get Specials – Booking early doesn’t necessarily rule you out from all specials. Before you are in the penalty phase of booking (usually 75 days out depending on the itinerary), everything is changeable. If a special like Kids Sail Free comes out and you aren’t in penalty, you can switch over. If you’re in it, sometimes you can cancel and rebook and still save money. Currently, some discounts can be applied to existing reservations no matter how close they are. For example, Florida-Resident Rates can be applied at any point, even after final payment. So even if you book, keep watching!

8. If the Rate Should Go Down You Can Adjust – Rarely, very rarely, the price of a cruise will go down. Usually it’s because Disney over anticipates demand for a sailing and raises the prices too quickly. If something like that should happen, you should be able to adjust your price (but don’t expect Disney to call you offering a lower price, you will have to keep watching the prices).

9. Some Cruises Do Sell Out – Some cruises really do sell out. Actually, most sell out by sailing time, but some sell out really early. If you are set on a date, especially during a popular time, don’t risk it. Book it!

10. You aren’t Locked In – The good news is, you aren’t taking a huge risk by booking early. If you aren’t booking concierge or a special sailing (e.g. an inaugural sailing), your deposit is completely refundable until you enter that penalty phase! If your plans change, you can cancel or rebook! You’re not locked in!

So how about you? Are you planning on booking on opening day?

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Posted on February 1, 2014

4 Responses to “10 Reasons to Book Your Disney Cruise Early”

  • I’ve seen that information before – that almost all sailings are 100% booked – but how can you find that information in advance? It would be helpful to know if a particular cruise or destination or ship sell out more than any other. Is that something you all can find out?

    • by Tammy Whiting on February 3, 2014, at 1:17 pm EDT

      It’s true Afeross. It used to be closer to 100% but the percentage of sold out sailings is still crazy high. The Fare Tracker won’t tell you if a sailing sold out, but if the prices went up, or even stayed the same, that’s a good indication that it did.

  • How soon before a cruise are rooms released?

    • Disney tends to release their itineraries in big chunks anywhere from 12-24 months before a sailing. Right now they are out through April of 2015. We are expecting the rest of 2015 any time now.