5 ways to save money on your Disney Cruise Line vacation

It’s no secret that Disney Cruise Line isn’t cheap. There’s no point in trying to convince anyone of that. However, in spite of its pricing, there’s a real reason it’s so popular – it’s just that good. The level of service, the quality of the ships, the quality of the entertainment (well, mostly – but that’s another article). But is it possible to save money on these cruises? Read on!


Any seasoned DCL vet will tell you this the minute you ask about how to get the best price on a Disney cruise. Cruises are generally released for sale about 18 months before the sailing. The lowest price you will find (generally speaking) on a Disney cruise line vacation is when they are first released. As the ship fills, the prices go up.

When dates are released for sale, those who have sailed previously on Disney have first crack at booking. Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club awards levels based on the number of sailings you’ve done. Silver Castaway Club starts on your 2nd cruise. You reach Gold status after your 5th cruise, and Platinum status after your 10th cruise. Platinum Castaway club members are the first to get the opportunity to book, followed by gold, then silver, and finally, the general public.

Shipboard Credits

Some Disney travel agents will offer shipboard credits when you book your cruise through them. Our official sponsor, Dreams Unlimited Travel offers shipboard credits up to $1000. Shipboard credits are added to your account, and available to use once you’re onboard the ship. Shipboard credits can be used for any charges incurred on the ship (Spa treatments, shopping, dining, beverages, etc). FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m co-owner of Dreams Unlimited Travel.

Disney Cruise PriceDreams Unlimited
Shipboard Credit
(New, direct bookings only)
Dreams Unlimited Travel
Shipboard Credit
(Onboard bookings & Transfers)
$0 – $999NoneNone
$1,000 – $1,999$50$25
$2,000 – $2,999$100$50
$3,000 – $3,999$150$75
$4,000 – $4,999$200$100
$5,000 – $5,999$250$125
$6,000 – $6,999$300$150
$7,000 – $7,999$350$175
$8,000 – $8,999$400$200
$9,000 – $9,999$450$225
$10,000 – $10,999$500$250
$11,000 – $11,999$550$275
$12,000 – $12,999$600$300
$13,000 – $13,999$650$325
$14,000 – $14,999$700$350
$15,000 – $15,999$750$375
$16,000 – $16,999$800$400
$17,000 – $17,999$850$425
$18,000 – $18,999$900$450
$19,000 – $19,999$950$475
$20,000 +$1,000$500

Category Guarantee Staterooms

Once the final payment date for a cruise has passed (meaning those who are booked on the cruise can no longer cancel without trip insurance), Disney will, on occasion, make unsold staterooms available at a discount. These staterooms are called “guarantee’ staterooms, or IGT (Inside Guarantee), OGT (Outside Guarantee) or VGT (Verandah Guarantee). What that means is that you are guaranteed to get a stateroom in that category, and the price can be significantly lower than average. However, there are trade-offs. First, you can’t cancel – once you book one of these rooms, you’re stuck with it. You can purchase trip insurance to cover unexpected medical issues, etc – but beyond that – this is your stateroom. You also can not make any changes to the reservation – the names you provide at the time of booking can not be changed, the date of the sailing can not be changed, and the category of the room can not be changed. You will not be assigned a stateroom when you book, you’ll receive your stateroom assignment about a week or so prior to your sailing.

While these rooms do represent a discount, in many cases they’re still more expensive than if you had booked the same cruise when it was first released. So, this is just another reminder that your best bet is ALWAYS to book early if you’re looking to save the most money.

Published Discounts


Beyond what’s listed above, each week Dreams Unlimited Travel publishes a list of all current discounts announced by Disney Cruise Line on specific sailings. You can bookmark the above link and check back weekly. The page is normally updated every Monday.

The ‘ol Target Gift Card trick

This is a favorite of many folks on the DIS!

Target offers a ‘debit card’ that will give you 5% off most purchases. This is connected to your existing bank debit card, so there’s no need to open another bank account. Target also sells Disney gift cards, and the 5% off deal applies to those as well. So, let’s say you get a $500 Disney Gift Card at Target using your Target debit card. You’ll pay $475 for it, saving $25. You can use Disney gift cards to pay for your Disney vacations.

Now, extrapolate that out to the cost of a cruise (assuming you plan to pay cash for your cruise, rather than putting it on a credit card). A $5000 cruise would cost you $4750 – a savings of $250. Couple that with the aforementioned Dreams Unlimited shipboard credit (in this case, $250*), and you’ve saved about 10% on your cruise. This works with all the other discounts we’ve outlined here, so with a little work and some luck, you can make a dent in what you pay for your cruise!

So, in spite of how expensive Disney Cruise Line vacations can be, there are options to help make it a little more manageable. Of course, when the stars align just right, you may be able to combine some or these strategies to save even more! Happy (discounted) Sailing!

*The Dreams Unlimited shipboard credit can not be applied to your payment. The shipboard credit will be reflected once you arrive on the ship as a credit to your onboard spending account.

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