We recently worked through some ways that you can plan a Disney Cruise Line with a relatively modest budget of $3,000. While sailing DCL for just $3,000 is certainly possibly, it doesn’t allow for lengthy voyages or for much in the way of cruise enhancements. Bumping your budget up to $5,000 opens up a raft of options for a longer, more luxurious trip.
In my previous post, I worked through the math of how getting to a DCL embarkation port can easily cost $1,000 or more for a couple and $1,500 or more for a family. If you live more than a few hour drive from an embarkation port, you’ll have at least some expense for pre-cruise transportation and accommodations. Be sure to factor this into your overall vacation budget. If your expenditure limit is $5,000, then less than $4,000 might actually be available for the cruise itself.
The cost of a DCL sailing includes the price that you’ll be quoted by the DCL website or your travel agent, which includes DCL’s rate plus taxes and destination port fees. In addition to that cost, the only real non-negotiable fee is a baseline level of gratuity for the crew members who serve you closely in the dining rooms and your stateroom. While many guests choose to give more, the minimum suggested gratuity rate is $14.50 per guest, per night (this is the total amount, which is distributed among the relevant crew). So, two guests on a three-night sailing would pay $87 in gratuities. Two guests on a four-night sailing would pay $116 in gratuities. On a five-night sailing they’d pay $145, and so on.
Three and Four Night Sailings
With a $5,000 budget, minus likely somewhere slightly north of $1,000 for travel and tips, that leaves a bit less than $4,000 for most parties to spend on their actual cruise. Note: the prices below were available in early December 2022, actual prices vary.
If your party of two is interested in a three or four night sailing – Great News! – your party can experience almost sailing of four nights or fewer, and in all but a handful of cases. The most expensive four-night sailings originating from a US domestic port are winter holiday voyages on Disney’s newest ship, the Wish.
For example (see photo below), the four-night Wish sailings that include Thanksgiving and Christmas 2023 can both accommodate at party of two for about $5,000, which works if you’re able to get to the port with minimal expense. The adjacent non-holiday sailings are all priced to allow for a couple to sail for less than $4,000 in a lovely verandah stateroom.
Again, virtually all other DCL sailings originating in the United States cost less than these holiday sailing of the Wish, so a $5,000 budget puts most options on the table.
Concierge is in Reach for Some Shorter Sailings
Believe it or not, there are a handful of Disney Cruise Line sailings where it’s possible for a couple to stay in concierge-level accommodations within a $5,000 budget.
Finding longer DCL sailings is also within reach for a couple with a $5,000 budget. Some particular gems include: a 7-night Western Caribbean Cruise from Galveston in an oceanview stateroom, a 7-night Western Caribbean Cruise from Miami in a verandah stateroom, an 8-night Bermuda and Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral in an oceanview room, and even an 8-night Alaskan sailing from Vancouver in an oceanview room.
We’ve seen that there are many options for DCL vacations under $5,000 for parties of two. What happens if you have a larger family?
Remember, you’re likely looking at an extra $300 or so per person if you’re flying to your embarkation port, reducing the amount of your total budget that’s available for the cruise. With three people, if you need to fly to your cruise, the amount that’s left for the cruise itself is closer to $3,500 if you need to keep the total under $5,000.
There are still many, many ways that a party of three (two adults plus one child under age 10) can get on a DCL sailing and stay within budget. The most expensive four-night holiday sailings on the Wish are now out of reach, but there are still inside and oceanview options that work for some dates on the newest ship. Three-night sailings on the Wish and longer sailings on all the other ships are also all options.
Four guests (two adults plus two children under age 10) could even get on a seven-night cruise in an inside stateroom within budget, though I wouldn’t recommend accommodates that small for a party of four.
A more comfortable situation for a party of four might be something like the 6-night Western Caribbean Cruise from Galveston which can had within budget in a larger oceanview or verandah level stateroom.
Other fees that might come into your budget planning include add-ons such as trip insurance, alcoholic beverages or other specialty drinks, port excursions, adult dining, childcare in the nursery, spa or salon treatments, merchandise, or photo packages. With a total budget of $5,000, your options for these sorts of enhancements will vary depending on the base price of your sailing.
If you’re on a sailing that costs, say, $3,500 and your transportation costs were $1,500 that obviously leaves no room for add-ons.
On the other end of the spectrum, a couple in an oceanview stateroom on a 4-night Western Caribbean Cruise from New Orleans, could have as much as $3,000 to spend on extras.
Extras might look like:
- Photo package: about $250
- Dinner for two at Palo, with drinks and tip: about $150
- Scuba diving in Cozumel for two: about $250
- Two rounds of Bingo: About $150
- Couples massage and pampering at the spa: about $500
- Souvenirs: $250
- Cocktails for two each evening: $200
All that adds up to less than $2,000, still keeping you well under budget. It’s up to you which version of the DCL experience will feel more relaxing or indulgent.
And if you’re looking for advice and planning assistance with any Disney Cruise Line sailing, be sure to check out the Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line or ask for a free quote from one of our expert travel agents.