Three Lessons from Coronavirus About Booking a Disney Cruise with Costco

As vaccines are rolled out globally, cruising in a world with coronavirus is still a hotly debated topic. I purposely didn’t say “after coronavirus,” because the reality is that the virus will likely still exist as Disney Cruise Line, and others in the United States, resume operations in 2021. 

My last cruise was in February 2019 aboard the Disney Dream that I booked through Costco. It’s a little embarrassing to admit this since I’m a 12-year DISboards veteran and an article contributor. I thought I knew what a travel agent could do for me, and in the end, I chose the retailer incentive. It made sense at the time because my focus was budget. The really embarrassing part though is that the incentive wasn’t even that much. But I thought I knew what I was doing and didn’t need a travel agent because The DIS had already taught me everything I needed to know. 

Disney Fantasy Stateroom with Verandah

I was fortunate that my cruise sailed without any problems and I patted myself on the back for a trip well planned. Then 2020 hit. I watched intently as reports surfaced of COVID-19 clusters aboard cruise ships and ports turning them away. In the weeks that followed, I read reports of cancelled cruises, payments in limbo, trip insurance confusion, rebooking policies constantly changing, lack of communication, and hours of waiting on hold. This is when I began comparing how experiences would differ for those travelers who booked through a big box travel provider and those who booked through a travel agency like Dreams Unlimited Travel.

Logistics

As people commonly do when they witness a crisis, I began applying the situation to myself. In those early weeks of the pandemic, many late spring cruises were still scheduled to sail. I wondered what the process would have been if my cruise was scheduled during those spring dates and I no longer wanted to go. Cancellation policies seemed to be changing by the day and reimbursements were in limbo. Many tough questions went through my mind as I thought about the uncertainty of it all.

The truth is that the small incentive I received to book through Costco would not have replaced the value of an expert on my side. I would have spent countless hours trying to connect through a call center instead of emailing, texting, or calling my travel agent, a human with a name, who knew me and all the information about my trip.

Rebooking Options

If I had managed to cancel my cruise or if it had been cancelled by Disney Cruise Line, I would then be left with the task of obtaining a reimbursement or rebooking within the allotted time frame. I thought about the time I would have to sit on hold again, as well as the task of staying on top of the ever-changing cruise credits and rebooking policies. It would be necessary to track my reimbursement, which would be a significant sum if I had paid in full. Having a travel agent seemed like a luxury at this point, rather than a convenience.

Donald Duck statue on Disney Dream

Personal Connection

I finally concluded that a travel agent was a necessity as I saw cruises cancelled month by month. These included cruises that were rebooked from previous cancellations. I imagined the frustration of getting through to a call center every time a change happened and the need to explain my situation all over again. It would be much different than calling a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations.

Walking myself through the process of having a cruise scheduled during the time of coronavirus was eye opening. I thought I understood the value of a travel agent, but I didn’t. Nothing replaces an individual who is familiar with your situation and who has provided you with direct contact information. 

I am still a loyal Costco member and I don’t see that changing. I’m a fan of their household items, two-year warranties, and I even used their mortgage services for my home loan. But for travel, where I have thousands of dollars invested, I will forever be a loyal travel agent customer.


If you book your Disney Cruise Line vacation through Dreams Unlimited Travel – the official sponsor of DCL Fan – you will recieve a shipboard credit up to $1000 plus a complimentary gift basket.

Request a no-obligation quote from Dreams Unlimited Travel!

8 thoughts on “Three Lessons from Coronavirus About Booking a Disney Cruise with Costco

  • January 10, 2021 at 11:32 am
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    I appreciate your well written article based on personal assumption (walking through a presumed situation) but not personally experienced facts (walking through the actual situation). We have walked through Costco travel experiences on three occasions and never had a problem, issue, or question go unresolved. (And we recently booked a fourth.)

    Our Costco travelistias have been amazing and always helpful. The latest communication with Costco travel (excluding the most recent booking 4th trip) was to reschedule a Disney cruise in Europe that was to take place during Covid. We encountered no issues at all. To date the Costco gift cards we have acquired for travel have ranged from $350 to $700 per person.

    I understand the luxury of having a travel agent make phone calls and being the intermediary when a crisis hits if you so choose. We are appreciative of our agent BUT I wanted to clarify that we had a cruise booked during the pandemic via Costco and they were great with handling changes in a proficient and professional manner. Others may have had a different experience.

  • January 10, 2021 at 12:26 pm
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    It’s obvious the person writing this has some sort of investment in a travel agent. In today’s world, there is no reason to have to use a travel agent. We also have had 2 cruises cancelled and all it took was a phone call. It really. Wasn’t a big deal.

    • January 11, 2021 at 5:29 am
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      Actually I love having a travel agent handle all of our cruising needs. This is wonderful when there are long holds with DCL on opening day for new dates to book. I just send her an email of what we want in advance, and when I get home from work that day it’s all taken care of. It’s not always a quick phone call.

  • January 10, 2021 at 2:43 pm
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    I’ve done 6 Disney cruises. NO MORE! Over a year ago I laid down $650 for 3 cabins while on a cruise. But they won’t refund my money. They say I’ll get my money in August which will be 2 years from last cruise. I spent over $35,000 on the last cruise. It’s all about money and not about families. Each cruise I paid for 10 members. A total over $100 000 probably.

  • January 10, 2021 at 11:01 pm
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    As a Costco travel customer, I read the title of this article and expected to learn something from a first hand experience. The author had no experience dealing either with Costco travel or a travel agent regarding cruise changes during the pandemic… These are all assumptions. I love the last line – “I will forever be a loyal travel agent customer”. The author admitted in the article that they haven’t used a Disney travel agent, and didn’t mention having used one since…LOL

  • January 11, 2021 at 6:49 am
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    This article is obviously written to promote travel agents. I personally am confused by it since anyone who has actually dealt with Costco travel will know that they treat their customers with respect and work hard to take care of their needs.

    Unlike the author, I did have a Disney cruise cancelled and worked with Costco travel to rebook.

    It took me 30 minutes start to finish. I could not have been more pleased with how they dealt with the situation. This article is not based on facts, simply a personal opinion grounded on assumption.

  • January 11, 2021 at 9:36 am
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    From what I’m reading, you did not have any problems with Costco, just that you want a more personal connection with the agent. Sounds good.

  • January 11, 2021 at 11:08 am
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    My Disney cruise through Costco was also cancelled. One call to Costco Travel and, with no wait, and 20 minutes later I was rebooked on a new cruise, with a better room, on board credit, small refund and larger Costco card. Costco is a travel agent.

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