It’s the end of January. The Northeast is covered in snow. You’ve finished paying for Christmas. So who’s ready for a Disney Cruise? I know I am. There’s no question that among the mass market cruise lines (and, yes, as much as I love them, Disney is still mass market), Disney charges a premium for their cruises. For me, it’s worth it, but the price means I have to be careful about when I sail. For the next edition of the Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line, I looked at a year’s worth of fares to see when the most and least expensive times to cruise are. Let’s take a look…
I used the Disney Fantasy for this look at fares. Why? Because it’s the easiest for comparing apples to apples year round. The Fantasy has two itineraries, Eastern and Western Caribbean 7-Night sailings out of Port Canaveral. This means that unlike the Magic and Wonder, I’m not comparing European or Alaska cruises to ones in the Caribbean. And, unlike with the Dream, I’m only looking at 7 night cruises, not 3-, 4-, or 5-night itineraries.
The price listed is for a category 4A room, which I chose because it was available on all the sailings. Some of the other categories were sold out for certain dates. The rate is for two adults. To add another guest to the a room, figure on adding another 50 to 75% of one of the adult fares. Yes, this means that the New Year’s cruise for 4 in one 4A cabin is over $10,000. And, no, that’s not concierge. Something interesting I noticed while running these numbers is that the 3 and 4th passenger cost does not go up within the different types of stateroom. It is the same cost to add a 3rd or 4th person to a category 7 Outside Stateroom with Verandah as it is to add them to a Category 4 even though the price for the first two guests is obviously higher as you choose nicer staterooms. This isn’t the same cost across all categories though. You’ll pay a different flat price for each additional guest depending if you’ve chosen Inside, Outside, Verandah, or Concierge cabins.
There are really not many surprises here. The least expensive times to sail are when the kids are in school, and winter holidays are by far the most expensive. Here is the chart of the prices. Click it to view full size. I looked at May 2015 to April 2016 for this, but plotted the chart beginning in January so it would make sense.
As you can see, early fall, the beginning of December, and right after New Year’s are the least expensive times to take your Disney cruise. And other than holidays, the middle of summer is the most expensive time. If you have children and want to cruise with them, try to book as soon as school gets out for summer or right before it starts back in the fall. Your fare won’t be as low when school is in session, but it’s the best you’re going to get.
Just the facts:
7-night Caribbean cruises on the Disney Fantasy from May 2015 to April 2016
- Median cost for cat 4A with 2 adults – $4078 (4/30/2016)
- Mode after rounding to the nearest $100 (that’s within 2% of the median price) – $3900 (1/16/16, 2/6/16, 2/20/16, 2/27/16, 4/16/46, 4/23/16, 10/17/15, 10/31/15, 12/12/15)
- 5 Highest – The Christmas sailing would no doubt be in this list, but that cruise starts on December 19 this year
- 12/27/15 – $8250 – New Year’s
- 3/26/16 – $7851 – Easter
- 6/20/15 – $6652
- 7/4/15 – $6652 – Independence Day
- 7/18/15 – $6652
- 5 Lowest
- 9/5/15 and 9/19/15 – $3574 – the first date includes Labor Day
- 9/12/15 and 9/26/15 – $3586
- 1/23/16 – $3591
Because of how the calendar falls, there may not be as large a difference in the cruises that fall over Christmas and those include New Year’s as there is in 2015. What’s truly astounding (or it would be if I hadn’t already looked at fares in early December) is the difference in price between December 12 and December 26. That 2 week difference will cost you nearly two and a half times as much if you want to toast the New Year aboard the Fantasy. Or put another way – you could sail back to back from December 5 to December 19 – 14 nights – and still pay less than you would for the New Year’s cruise. I know which one I would choose.
With fall and winter fares, you run the risk of running into bad weather. Even though we haven’t seen a bad hurricane season in several years, it’s still something to consider when picking your dates. And high winds can keep you from docking at all the ports on your itinerary, as I learned in early December at Castaway Cay on the Dream.
Another note, while these compared Eastern and Western cruises, one thing other than dates that factored into the pricing is that Port Taxes are slightly more expensive for Western than Eastern cruises. These are a flat fee per passenger and are $184 for 2 guests on an Eastern and $200-242 on a Western (depending on how many ports are visited).
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