At the end of May, we took our most epic family vacation ever, a 14 day transatlantic cruise on the Disney Magic. We planned, booked, and saved for our trip nearly a year in advance. In that time, we’ve gotten lots of questions about the cruising with Disney. So, I’ve decided to do a series of posts about our trip. Below is a post that Craig wrote and originally posted on another blog last summer about planning our trip.
In January of 2010, we took advantage of the “Kids Sail Free” program and went on a 4-night Bahamas cruise on the Disney Wonder (2nd oldest DCL ship) with two young kids (3 year girl and 2 year old boy). As soon as that cruise ended, I started looking into our next Disney Cruise because I loved it that much.
I like to do my own research and not to rely solely on a travel agent. So here is what I found…
The May 2011 Transatlantic Disney cruise on the Disney Magic (oldest ship, but refurbished) is the cheapest per day option of any of the Disney routes. They advertise it at $66 per day per person for the cheapest stateroom (3 person room – Decks 1 & 2). I found this to be about right for a family of four; however, this does not include flights from getting to Orlando and then from Barcelona back home. Our flights cost just as much as the entire 14 day cruise. So for us, the ‘true’ average per day per person is $125 or $500 per day for a family of four. If you are just looking at the cruise itself – it comes out to about $270 per day for a family of four.
This $270 a day is all-inclusive (except alcohol), including the kids’ “camp” program. When I took this all into account – it was clear to me that this was financially a better deal, but more importantly – I could actually relax on vacation as opposed to running around Disney world stressing over the price of food and drinks.
After determining that the Disney Transatlantic Cruise was the best deal going I started looking at how to book it. I found that all the major travel sites had the same prices as the Disney Cruise line website itself. I should also mention that I got a quote from an official Disney cruise travel agent – which was also the same price. I figure all of these prices were so close because I was comparing prices almost a year in advance.
There was one main difference between all of the travel sites/official Disney Cruise travel agents and the Disney cruise line site… I could book the flights through the Disney cruise line site for about 35% less than booking the flight through Expedia, Cheaptickets, or Travelocity. And since booking your flights through Disney includes complimentary ground transportation – including luggage transfer directly from the plane to your stateroom – it was a done deal.
The next decision was picking a stateroom. On the Disney cruise line site it is a bit tricky to find. If you are booking through Disney, you can specify your stateroom for most categories. Make sure you are in the “Staterooms” section of the reservation.
I used this site for stateroom reviews:
I used this site for reviewing deck plans and stateroom locations:
If you don’t pick a stateroom then you are listed as “GTY”. The strategy going GTY would be to hope that all of the staterooms in that category are sold out and you get a complimentary upgrade. The downside is that if they are not all sold out you get the last room that no one else wanted (see stateroom reviews above). I didn’t want to roll the dice, so I picked a room near the AFT (rear) elevators because it was the closest to the majority of the dining restaurants, soda/snack stand, and kid’s pool. (And because that was the last section of the Titanic that went down .)
Finally, I had to go into the “dining” section of the reservation and make sure that the seating time we want was selected. Disney’s reservation seems to default to the 8:30pm “second seating”.
Stay tuned for more posts about the trip itself!