This is perhaps the easiest step in the whole vacation – Disney is well versed in how to separate you from your money. Simply go to www.disneycruiseline.com, select the various options and search for your cruise.
On the left side of the main results window, you’re going to see possible sailings. Depending on your destination, these might be back-to-back events, so pay attention to the embarkation and return dates. More importantly, the top of the results window typically has four sections to allow you to select your type of accommodations on board.
Aptly named, these cabins are on an interior portion of the ship and do not have a real window and are typically under 200 sqft in size. Economical, some people may find them to be claustrophobia-inducing, as they are nicely apportioned, but without a lot of space. All rooms contain at least a queen-sized bed, a couch that converts to a single bed, a vanity, a flat-screen TV, a wardrobe with electronic safe, and a full bath (tub and shower). On the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy (virtually identical sister ships), Inside Staterooms do have a virtual porthole. It’s essentially a video screen that can be set to show an outside view, with animated “interaction” at various times throughout the day. As a guest with an Inside Stateroom, you are NOT a “lesser class” passenger – you have full run of the ship as virtually everyone else (Concierge guests pay more and do have access to some exclusive things, but not much and nothing the average guest would miss).
The Magic and Wonder do have “Secret Porthole” rooms, though (rooms sold as Inside Staterooms, but which have smaller, out-of-the-way portholes. Read the descriptions carefully and note their location.
Like their Inside bretheren, an Oceanview Stateroom is of similar size (though some go up to 240 sqft). The key difference is that they have a real (and in some cases, huge) porthole to the outside world. In addition, they may have separate rooms for the toilet and the shower/tub (which gives you an extra sink, too). Lastly, some staterooms in this category will have a slanted porthole “wall” depending on their deck position.
Staterooms with Verandah
For typically about $100 more (on a 4-night cruise), you can move up from an Oceanview to a Verandah stateroom. With this comes a sliding-glass door to an open-air deck for you and your family to enjoy the sea and air. Smokers are NOT allowed to smoke on the verandah anymore (they used to have dedicated ashtrays). Adjoining rooms also have adjoining verandahs if so desired to open to make a larger verandah. Staterooms in this Category go up to 299 sqft and can also include a pull-down bunk-bed (which is raised and lowered for you by your Cabin Steward each day/night). Effectively, these rooms can easily accommodate 4 adults. On Disney’s website, you’ll also notice that some verandah staterooms come at a discount for an “obstructed view” or “undersized” verandah. Depending on whether you plan to spend any amount of time out there, this might be a more cost effective solution.
Concierge with Verandah
From a Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah to Concierge Royal Suite with Verandah, these staterooms are significantly larger (up to 1,000 sqft) and are priced accordingly (a decent rule of thumb is that you can expect to pay about 2x what a Family Oceanview Stateroom with Veranda would cost). You have access to some extra Concierge-level features, such as the Concierge Lounge with happy hours and free cookies, but for the most part, the additional cost is simply for the stateroom’s size. Concierge cruisers, though, swear by this level of guest service. Stories of the concierge team obtaining hard-to-get items at a moment’s notice, booking impossible-to-get reservations and simply providing over-the-top guest service abound. These rooms NEVER seem to be empty, even at the additional cost.
Once you’ve selected your desired stateroom and click continue, there are a few additional choices you have to make before finalizing your trip. First, Disney knows that you may want more than one stateroom, and they give you the option to add another one here. Second, there are two dinner seatings each night. The first dinner seating is at ~5:45 and the second is at ~8:30. You can choose which one you want, but you will have it for the entire cruise. I explain more about dining on another page. Next, Disney offers air and ground transportation (see my other commentary on using Disney travel to book airlines).
Vacation Insurance is next – it’s based on the cost of your package (and the rate is halved for children). While I typically refuse insurance for vacations, cruises carry a little additional risk and I would urge consideration of this option. In fact, I used it myself in October, 2012 when we were originally going to sail during Hurricane Sandy. Long story short, the insurance gave us the flexibility to sail the following February instead (and we’re glad we did – this was shot on the Fantasy as the two ships followed each other through the storm). But I would also recommend checking with a website like InsureMyTrip to compare insurance cost and coverages (and I typically buy trip insurance through that site rather than Disney). In doing so, I give up one HUGE difference – Disney’s insurance plan includes what amounts to a full-value “punt” or refund of your trip costs for nearly any cancellation reason. Bear this in mind when you’re making a decision.
Lastly, you’ll have the ability to add shore excursions and special requests (including pre-purchasing various things to be delivered to your room), but you can add shore excursions only after you’ve paid for your entire trip and when you’re about 30 days out from sailing (and depending on your Castaway Club membership status).
That’s it – you’re booked. You had to pay a deposit with the remainder due a certain number of days prior to your cruise. You were also told that there was a variable refund policy regarding timing of any cancellations. Note these dates on your calendar just in case. If you purchased insurance, note also that almost everything other than cancellation for your convenience is covered by the insurance policy (no, I don’t make commission… I was just VERY happy with the insurance and highly recommend it).