NOOO! We’re not rich or even well-off. We are a middle-class working family that saves up for our vacations. We make sacrifices. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t wearing the same clothes every day to save on laundry and eating Top Ramen for dinner. There are some movies we skip at the theatre and wait until Netflix to save some money. I may go a little longer between hair appointments or skip going to lunch. In the grocery store one day I asked my daughter to get some cheese. She came back with the store brand instead of Sargento and said, “We could try this kind and it will save us $1.20! It can go in the Mickey Money jar!”. So yeah, I have them totally trained.
Here’s some tips that we use to save money:
- Buy a placeholder or book a future cruise when you are on the ship! You will save 10% and you will get a break on your deposit. The placeholder costs $250 but it will go towards your deposit when you pick the date you want to sail (edit: onboard credit is no longer offered). With the placeholder you must sail within the next 24 months after purchase. If for some reason you are unable to cruise again you can call DCL and they will give you a full refund.
- We book cruises on opening day when the prices are the lowest. Because we use placeholders I have to call DCL the minute they open to book our cruise. I’ve never had to wait on hold for hours, thank goodness.
- Because we usually book on opening day I have about a year and a half to save the money. I transfer money every month to our savings account and then withdraw when our deadline arrives. I pay for the cruise with my Disney Visa and then use savings account money to pay the Visa off. I get all those Disney Rewards Dollars!
- DCL has special offers on their website. Normally certain cabin types (inside, Oceanview or verandah rooms) are available for discounted rates on select sailings. The only kicker, you don’t get to pick the cabin, DCL does it for you. There are also military rates and special rates for Florida residents (Oh Floridians, I am so jealous!!!!).
- We drive when we can. It’s a long drive from where we live but we break it up so it’s not too bad. We save a bunch by not paying for airfare so if it’s an option for you, consider it.
- Pick the cabin that best fits your budget. On the various DCL forums I see people telling first-timers that a verandah cabin is the only way to go. I totally disagree. Go with what you can afford. You are going to have a great time no matter what type of cabin you sleep in.
- We have the Mickey Money jar as I mentioned earlier. We put our spare change in it. When it gets full I turn it in for cash and put it aside for port adventures and/or souvenirs.
- I use my Disney Visa card for EVERYTHING. Every few days I pay the balance and keep accumulating those Disney Rewards Dollars.
- I know some people buy gift cards at Costco and other places for a reduced rate and pay for their cruise that way. I have no experience doing this. I’m all for saving money but that sounds like a huge hassle to me. If you’ve paid for your cruise this way please leave a comment with some tips!
These are the main things we do to save money. If I think of more I will add them.