The Hidden Gem of Disney Cruise Line Pricing – Guarantee Rates

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The lowest prices on Disney Cruise Line voyages are typically found within the first few days after new itineraries are released, 15 or so months in advance of sailing.

But there are many reasons why guests might not be able book a cruise well over a year in advance to take advantage of those opening-day rates:

  • Your work schedule might not allow you reserve vacation time that far in advance.
  • Your family composition might be changing.
  • Your child’s school schedule is not yet available.
  • You’re working through a medical issue (pandemic-related or otherwise).
  • Your financial situation is in flux.

If you’re able to book more than a year out, then one of the next best ways to save on Disney Cruise Line rates is to look for the hidden gem of DCL pricing – the Guarantee Rate. There are four versions of GTY rates on Disney Cruise Line:

  • General GTY
  • IGT – Inside Guarantee
  • OGT – Oceanview Guarantee
  • VGT – Verandah Guarantee

So what exactly do these terms mean?

A little background first: When you book most hotel stays, you’re guaranteeing that you’ll have a room at the hotel. Sometimes this is a room of a particular type or configuration (a concierge suite or a king-sized bed, for example), but rarely are you booking a specific room number.

Conversely, on Disney Cruise Line, most of the the time you ARE booking a specific room for your sailing – you know from the moment you place your deposit that you’ll be in stateroom 6090, for example.

DCL Guarantee Rates are like the hotel booking situation – you’re guaranteeing that you’ll get a room, usually a room of a specific type (inside, verandah, etc.) but you won’t know exactly which room you’ll be at the time of booking. Additionally, there are many caveats that are associated with these fares: most guarantee rates are non-refundable, for example.

The upshot is – with a Guarantee Rate, Disney chooses your stateroom, not you. You’re guaranteed to get at least the category of stateroom you’ve selected. You may get a better room (though this is unlikely). You’ll have some restrictions to your sailing. In exchange for forfeiting your room selection and accepting the restrictions, you’re likely to save money.

I need a more in-depth explanation.

Tammy Whiting does a fantastic job of delving into all the nuances of what Guarantee rates entail. Go ahead and read her post and then come back for some real world examples of how you’ll save money with these rates.

And remember, as Tammy points out, Guarantee Rates do not typically appear on the DCL website until about 3-4 months in advance of sailing. You won’t see Guarantee Rates available if you’re looking to book a cruise that is, say, nine months away.

I read Tammy’s post and I think I get it. So how much can I save?

EXAMPLE 1:

During the last week of September 2022, I looked at the December 2, 2022 7-Night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean Cruise from Galveston on the Magic for a party of two adults.

Right off the bat you’ll see that regular rates for Deluxe Oceanview Staterooms start at $3,260 and Guaranteed Oceanview Staterooms (OGT) with Restrictions start at $2,350 – a difference of at least $910.

The specifics of the OGT rate and its restrictions are well documented before you check out.

If instead you want to choose your own stateroom and remove some restrictions, you’ll have more things to decide and lots more money to pay.

EXAMPLE 2:

Also during the last week of September 2022, I looked at the October 22, 2022 7-Night Halloween on the High Seas Western Caribbean Cruise from Port Canaveral on the Fantasy for a party of two adults. If you want a verandah stateroom, the opportunity for savings is even greater. Guarantee Rate (VGT) rooms start at $2,973, while regular rate rooms at this level start at $4,135 – a difference of $1,162.

To be fair, the Guarantee Rate room you end up in might be slightly inferior to one you would have chosen yourself. The verandah might have an obstructed view, a slightly smaller footprint, or you might be on deck other than the one you prefer.

On the other hand, your most ideal of all possible rooms could cost even more. To reserve a specific Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah on Deck 10 midship, you’ll have to pay at least $4,947 – or $1,974 more than the Guarantee Rate. That’s a huge chunk of change that could be used for port excursions, adult dining, and spa time. Or it could be the difference between going on vacation or not going on vacation.

Saving thousands of dollars sound AMAZING! Why doesn’t everyone book with Guarantee Rates?

As enticing as these rates sound, they’re not for everyone. Here are some examples:

  • Guarantee rates typically start coming online at 3-4 months before sailing. If you’re 100% set on going on a particular sailing, you might not want to wait that long to book.
  • Not all sailings will offer Guarantee rates. If a particular sailing is a strong seller, they might not need to have Guarantee rate offerings.
  • You have a strong preference for niche stateroom type. For example, I have a friend who often travels with her adult child with autism. When sailing on the Dream or Fantasy, she likes the Category 8A Oceanview rooms that have two TVs and a large single bathroom that gives her extra space to help bathe her child. There are very few of these unique rooms and she won’t leave getting one up to chance.
  • You need a wheelchair accessible room. If you need a room with particular accessibility accommodations, then you can’t leave stateroom selection up to chance.
  • You have motion sickness issues. Some guests swear that lower deck midship staterooms are best to ward off motion sickness. If you want to be sure of getting this location, don’t leave it up to chance.
  • You prefer a unique stateroom feature. For example, some staterooms on Deck 5 of the Dream have huge verandahs. If sitting on your verandah is your cruising highlight, then you may want to lock in that particular selection<./li>
  • You’re traveling with a large party. For example, if you’re traveling with a family reunion taking up a dozen staterooms, you may want them all to be near each other and thus want to choose your location.

I’m still confused by all this. What can I do?

An experienced travel agent can walk you through all your options with any DCL booking, including one with Guarantee Rates. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

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