When is the best time of year to book a Disney cruise? This is a frequently asked question in my inbox. Not surprisingly, the answer is IT DEPENDS.
What? Not what you wanted to hear? Maybe it isn’t the answer you were looking for, but it’s an honest answer. To get to the bottom of this dilemma let’s take a look at the major factors that influence when the best time to sail is, and together we will find the best time for YOU to sail on a Disney cruise.
Every family is different. Every schedule is different. Luckily Disney Cruise Line announces its cruise itineraries 18-20 months in advance – which is quite helpful.
Pull out your calendar, your kids calendar, your significant other’s calendar and any other calendar which guides (or rules) your life.
- School calendars
- Sports calendars (don’t forget end of season tournaments, which are never on the original schedule)
- Extracurricular activity schedules
- Music/Dance/Art lesson schedules (don’t forget recitals, shows and competitions)
- Work schedule (for teens and college students)
- Work schedule
- Know where major U.S. Holidays fall
- Any other activities (church, community, volunteering)
Map all of this out as far out as you can. See where the natural “holes” are. The less you need to disrupt your regular life for vacation, the better.
Let’s face it, we all want to get the most value for our vacation dollar. I’m the same. So when it comes to price, when is the best time to take a Disney Cruise?
The best cruise fares are found after major U.S. school holidays conclude.
January: After the Christmas holidays conclude.
September: When the summer holiday is over.
Want to find out about discounts and deals? Check out Disney Cruise Discounts.
If you have ever planned a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, you are likely familiar with crowd calendars which predict crowd levels in the park on any given day.
Well, relax, when it comes to cruising, each ship’s maximum capacity determines crowd levels. And, since ships regularly sail full – regardless of the time of year – you can expect the total souls on board to be near capacity:
- Disney Dream & Disney Fantasy: 4,000 Guests
- Disney Magic & Disney Wonder: 2,400 Guests
- New Ships (unnamed) launching in 2021, 2022 & 2023: 4,000 Guests (anticipated)
Certain times of year you may experience a sailing with slightly fewer guests, though don’t count on it. Here is my rule of thumb:
The more expensive the fare, count on the ship being full.
Lower fares entice reluctant and more budget conscious cruisers. If the prices are high – Summer, Easter, Spring Break and Christmas – it is because demand for cruises at that time of year is high, and Disney is confident they will sell all of the available staterooms.
Almost every cruise I have sailed on has been completely full. (People must love to sail with me!) The ships are incredibly well designed to accommodate the number of Guests onboard.
Are you heading to Walt Disney World? Check out the WDW Prep School 2017-2018 School Year Crowd Calendar.
Looking for a holiday cruise? Do you have a super Star Wars or mega Marvel fan in your family? Disney Cruise Line has the cruise for you:
- Halloween on the High Seas: All four ships, most sailings in September and October
- Very Merrytime Cruises: All four ships, most sailings in November and December
- Star Wars Day at Sea: Only on the Disney Fantasy, most sailings Mid-January thru Mid-April.
- Marvel Day at Sea: Only on the Disney Magic, most sailings October and November
The Big Picture
The best time to cruise is always whenever you can get to the port.
Prices will go up and down all year. I’ve been lucky to sail during January, where we enjoyed dramatically lower rates. I’ve sailed in the summer (to Alaska and the Bahamas) where we were stuck paying higher rates that I would have liked – but not out of our comfort zone – simply because the itinerary and time of year are in high demand. But most cruises fall somewhere in the middle.
If the best time for you to cruise is during the summer. Go for it! I have loved my summer sailings. If you can get away from the winter weather and sail in the Caribbean in January, you won’t regret it.