I may not have been able to take an Alaskan cruise in 2017, but I learned a lot from my experience with disappointment. My previous blog entry chronicled the time I scheduled an Alaskan cruise and fell short of our financial goals. It was pretty early in the game when I realized that we had bitten off more than we could chew.
Before I decided to book another cruise, I took note of the activities I enjoyed with my family when I cruise. I realized that in addition to an Alaskan cruise being more expensive than a Caribbean cruise, I failed to plan for the add-ons. Those extras add up, and as I learned, they can put the brakes on the best of plans.
The next time we met with a reservation specialist to book our Alaskan cruise, I had already calculated all the little things that added up to create the total cost. From the pages of my travel experiences, here are the expenses to consider when you book an Alaskan Cruise on Disney Cruise Line.
THE BARE NECESSITIES
Our voyage to Alaska was going to be our seventh Disney Cruise, and we knew that the best way to book our cruise was while we were on board our 2016 New Years cruise. Booking on board gave us a percentage of savings on the prevailing rate of the cruise and a stateroom (on board) credit that we would be able to use on our dream cruise.
The cruises I took in the past gave me the luxury of driving to Port Canaveral for our Eastern/Western Caribbean sailings. We drove to the Port of Galveston for our 7-night Bahamian cruise. An Alaskan cruise departs from Vancouver, B.C. and requires a plane ticket. We weren’t talking a couple tanks of gas and an overnight stay at a hotel for this cruise. Unless we wanted to avoid flying and, say, take a train to Vancouver, plane tickets were going to be an additional expense.
You could save money by booking plane tickets yourself, but because we were traveling to another country and had to board the ship by a certain time, we didn’t want to take any chances. When it comes to the peace of mind you need to make sure your cruise goes smoothly, there are benefits to booking plane tickets with Disney Cruise Line’s air and sea department.
We also included the following additional costs and paid for them through Disney Cruise Line:
- pre-paid gratuities
- transfers (transportation) from the airport to the ship on embarkation and debarkation days
- travel insurance
I mentioned earlier that as I worked out the expenses we would incur on this cruise, I also thought about the activities I enjoyed with my family on our past Disney cruises. These included:
- a visit to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
- dinner at Disney Cruise Line’s adults only restaurant, Palo
- on board souvenirs
- a spa visit at Senses Spa & Salon
- port excursions
This was going to be my daughter’s last year to enjoy a visit to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and we covered the cost with the on board credit we received when we booked our Alaskan cruise in 2016.
If this is going to be your first Disney Cruise and you don’t have an on board credit to help with leisure expenses, you can use Disney gift cards. The balance on your gift cards are applied to your total invoice at the end of your cruise. I purchased a few of my gift cards, but I waited until I had an extra 10% off coupon at Target and stacked it with the REDCard discount of 5% . The gift cards I did not buy were ordered using points from Disney Movie Rewards, Shopkick, and credit cards. I also entered a sweepstakes and won a Disney gift card. By the time we set sail in June, I had enough gift cards to cover dinner at Palo and our on board shopping expenses.
I knew that everyone in my family would participate in port excursions. We planned to participate in one excursion at each port. I decided on a total that I would not exceed, and chose activities accordingly. The Disney Cruise Line website was a big help in pre-planning excursions. It listed the price of each activity, giving me a better way to plan this expense.
Clothing is an expense I incurred that someone who lives in a colder climate may not have. Cold weather that warrants layers and thermal wear isn’t a regular occurrence in the South. I saved money by shopping end-of-season sales online and purchased winter outer wear and footwear for my family. Most of the time, I saved 60% or more on the items I bought. I’ve had plenty of practice at combining retailer loyalty rewards with sales and coupons.
‘HOW TO’ BECOMES ‘CAN DO’
I used to ask myself why I didn’t know all this the first time I booked a DCL Alaskan cruise. Knowledge like this would have saved me the disappointment of missing out on one of my dreams. But knowledge like this only comes with experience.
And did I really miss out? I still went on my dream cruise, but at another time. I still had an amazing experience, and I hope that what I learned about planning my adventure helps someone else who is also in the stages of planning their dream adventure.
In this world of picture perfect vacation and travel photos, it’s good to know the story behind the journey. I’m inspired by others that share the ‘how to’ that got them to the ‘can do’. I encourage you to share your journey to the moment of the fulfillment of a dream so that your experience will be inspiring to someone else.