Disney cruise–two words that when linked together create an exotic, fun-filled vacation for the entire family.
My husband Mike has always wanted to go on a cruise. For our 25th wedding anniversary he wanted to sail away, just the two of us, into a sunset at sea. At the time we still had seven children living at home, so going anywhere alone together sounded like paradise.
But then, it seemed a shame not to celebrate the family we worked hard to create in those 25 years.
Having grown up in Riverside California, not far from DisneyLand, I wanted to share some of my best childhood memories with my own children. And so we did. We took a convoy of two vehicles overpacked with camping gear, children and expectations on a ten day adventure to Disney World’s Fort Wilderness. Without exaggeration, my children talked about that trip every day for the next two years. I promised them we would go back.
We never did.
Life hit us hard shortly after that trip. As we rolled with the punches, time refused to stop. The children continued to grow into adults. Not only did we not make it back to Disney, we never took another family vacation.
Last year, shortly after our last child announced her engagement, I remembered that promise left unkept. So I booked that cruise my husband always wanted, and made good on my promise all at once–we went on a Disney cruise.
Why on earth would a family of adults want to go on a Disney cruise you ask? The short answer is nobody does it like Disney.
A Disney cruise is more than just a ship with characters. Personally, I trust Disney to see to it that my family is safe, and well cared for as my family heads out to open sea.
Most of all, everything is steeped in the Disney tradition of making a magical time for each guest, with meticulous attention to every detail. From real time dinner conversations with Nemo’s Crush the sea turtle, to fireworks at sea, Disney Cruise Line made our last family vacation one the adults will be talking about for years.
Don’t wait until you’re facing an empty nest to give your family a dream vacation. Here’s how you can make a magical, exciting cruise to some far away tropical island affordable for your family.
1. Put Disney on Lay-a-way
Did you know that you can put your Disney cruise on lay-a-way? Well, it’s not actually a lay-a-way in the traditional sense–there’s no long lines to stand in or set payments you have to make. Just start with a 20 percent (refundable) deposit.
On the website, you can go in and make payments for as much or as little as fits your budget.
Although all your meals are included with family dining in lavish restaurants, you will also find pizza, burgers and ice cream flowing freely near the swimming pools. If that — and around the clock room service — is not enough, you can make special black tie dinner reservations.
While your trip is on Lay-a-way use the time to plan your entire itinerary. The ship is virtually cashless, once you’re on board, all you really need to do is try to take it all in.
If you don’t have a vacation budget, here’s how you can still make it affordable.
2. Book Well In Advance
The further out you plan, the better the prices. The cheapest rooms go first. You can book over a year in advance. Currently, they are booking through April 2016. Not only does that stretch out the time you need to pay for your vacation, it also ensures that you get the very best price.
I prefer to call the Disney Cruise line (800) 951-3532 for help in planning. They’re great at helping you find the best deal. You don’t pay them for saving you money, Disney does.
January and February are the two cheapest months to cruise. For the absolute rock bottom price on your first cruise, tell them you want to book for late January 2017. They can put you on the call list. As soon as that month is released to the agents for booking, they call you. That gives you a shot at the most affordable rooms on the ship.
Now you should have enough time to conspire with your family and devise a plan to fit it into your budget. Here’s a couple of my tricks to get the entire family on board.
3. Give Disney All Year Long
I’m willing to bet you’re going to spend money on your children this year. Why not focus the money you would have spent on birthday gifts, and Christmas on your Disney vacation? How about reservations to swim with dolphins, ballroom dancing lessons with Cinderella, as gifts? You can have a Disney character call on their birthday with the news they’re going on a cruise.
Forget filling a huge penny jar. Instead, pick up Disney gift cards with just a month’s worth of change.
Don’t feel bad that they aren’t getting a big gift the day of their birthday. You can still make the day fun, but building anticipation can be a lot more fun than you think.
One last thought, the only thing better than a vacation, is enjoying one you’ve earned. Let the children be a part of the planning, saving and preparations for the trip–that stretches the magic throughout the year.
Disney Cruise Line is Disney at its finest, it takes good care of adults while letting the kids think its all about them. Guess where we’re planning to go for our 40th anniversary? Here’s a hint: