Is Opening Day Still the Best Day to Book a Disney Cruise?

Updated 3/23/17 
I never thought I would ever have to write this article. Conventional wisdom has always been that the best fares for a Disney Cruise Line vacation are those that are published on Opening Day, and within days, those great fares were usually snagged by savvy cruisers. But, with all of the excitement of seeing new itineraries and new destinations, should you book on Opening Day, or does it pay to wait?

What is Opening Day?

Opening Day is the date that DCL announces a new season of cruises and makes them available for booking. Historically this has always been the best day to book a future cruise, as this is the day when fares are the lowest.

Click here to see my complete analysis of Summer 2018 cruise fares.

Disney Cruise Line Fares Explained

Disney Cruise Line uses a unique and mysterious formula for pricing cruises, but it boils down to supply and demand.

Photo Courtesy DCL

Your fare is based several factors such as:

  • time of year you sail.
  • where you sail.
  • length of cruise.
  • size of your party.

 

But the primary factor in determining your fare is simply this:

  • the type/category of stateroom you choose.

The larger the inventory of a room category, the lower the fare. As categories begin to fill, the price for remaining staterooms will rise.

For example, if you want a Deluxe Family Oceanview with Verandah, you should book while your preferred sailing date has lots of these staterooms available. As guests begin to fill these rooms, the ones that are left will be sold at a premium.

On Opening Day, the entire ship is available for booking, which means lots of rooms in every category are available. As time goes on, the ships fill, prices for any staterooms remaining rise.

What is the Summer 2018 Trend… So Far? (Updated 3/23/17)

Summer 2018 fares were released four weeks ago (on 2/23/17). I’ve been spot checking a number of cruises. To do this I made up a hypothetical family of four – 2 adults, 2 children ages 7 and 10 years.  So far, fares for a variety of sailings on three out of the four Disney ships have not increased one penny in the last month. Not. One. Penny. This means Opening Day prices are still available for most sailings, though room selection has begun to decrease.

The exception to this trend is that fares for Alaskan sailings in 2018 have begun to rise. These fare increases are what my hypothetical family of four would expect to see.

  • Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah – fare increased by $700
  • Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah – fare increased by $560
  • Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom (porthole) – fare increased by $560
  • Deluxe Inside Stateroom – fare increased by $308

 

Should I Wait to Book My Next Disney Cruise?

No. In fact, I always recommend booking as soon as you know your travel dates because

  • staterooms will continue to fill, reducing your choice of deck locations.
  • as stateroom categories fill, the cost of the remaining rooms will eventually rise.

I can’t predict when current fares will increase, but they most certainly will. In fact, most of my cruises have been completely full – there were signs in the port and at Guest Services kindly asking guests not to ask for upgrades, as all staterooms were booked.

Discount Disney Cruise Line Fare… Does it Exist?

Disney Cruise Line does not discount their staterooms they way the Walt Disney World Resort discounts their hotel rooms. DCL also does not offer “kids sail free” types of packages. So, what types of deals can be found?

  • Special offers are available for Florida residents, Canadian residents and active duty/retired members of the United States military.
  • To encourage families to book another cruise while onboard, you will get 10% discount off a future cruise if you book onboard – along with a few other perks like onboard credit and a reduced deposit.
  • A travel agent may offer onboard credit which can be used for purchases at sea, but please note that this typically comes out of their commission, not from DCL. If you are looking for a travel agent to help you plan and book your cruise, DCL Prep School recommends the team at Key to the World Travel. You can request a quote from them right here!

Really, that’s it. First time cruisers who don’t fall into these categories are likely to pay full price. Even if you take advantage of the discounted fares, you must to pay close attention to the fine print, and you may be responsible for paying the entire price of the cruise at the time of booking.

Your best fare is always going to be right now. So book as soon as you are sure of your travel date.

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