There was lots of news coming from Disney Cruise Line this week!
First was the announcement of some of the 2015 itineraries, at least through April of 2015. All four of the Disney ships will be sailing out of Florida, and the best news. . . ALL itineraries have a stop at Castaway Cay! (I told the husband that DCL must have been listening to me!)
The Disney Fantasy will be at Port Canaveral featuring 7 night Eastern Caribbean sailings with varying itineraries featuring St. Maarten and St. Thomas. Interestingly, sailings are Friday to Friday. Let’s see how that impacts travelers.
The Disney Dream will also be sailing out of Port Canaveral alternating 3 and 4 night cruises to Nassau and, of course, Castaway Cay. Sundays and Thursdays seem to be the prevailing sail days, making the Dream itineraries ideal for a land/sea combo vacation.
The Disney Magic will make Port Canaveral its home as well, offering 7 night Western Caribbean itineraries that vary between Key West and Jamaica. Sailings are from Saturday to Saturday.
The Disney Wonder will be sailing from Miami and feature 4 and 5 night itineraries that include either Nassau or Grand Cayman or Cozumel.
So, what does all of this mean? It means that prospective cruisers now have more sailings to choose from and Florida would definitely be the destination. I would also venture a guess that the Fantasy is now more of a “draw” than the other ships and by making the itinerary a little harder to manage in a week’s vacation time with the Friday embarkation day, will cut down on the reservations and shift them to the other ships. Hoping prospective guests may be thinking. . . Yes, I want to sail on the Fantasy with Disney, but oh, a Friday sail date won’t work for me, so let’s sail on the Magic or Wonder instead. After all, it will still be a Disney Cruise and I do have my heart set on a Disney Cruise. Time will tell if DCL’s predictions are accurate in terms of guest wants and needs. And, what’s great is that if reservations don’t start filling up, DCL has the opportunity to change course, literally. The only difficulty will be finding space in the Port Canaveral line-up to make adjustments.
Another piece, is that DCL has a contract with Port Canaveral that includes a certain number of sailings from that port each year. Stacking up that number early in 2015 with 3 ships at the port will give DCL more flexibility about ports later in the year.
The other bit of news coming from Disney Cruise Line this week has to do with changes to on-board booking reservations. A bit of background on this one. . . historically, DCL has offered discounts and on-board credits to guests rebooking their next cruise while on-board. Personally, this is a perk we look forward to and have used multiple times. One of the early selling feature the Future Cruise Sales staff has used is that you could book your cruise and then change it if the dates didn’t work out. Well, that was all and good until about a year ago or so, when DCL changed the policy to you could move your booked cruise once and only once to still keep the perks of the on-board rebooking. Well, now, with the recent changes, if you move the sail date further than 18 months of your reservation, you lose the perks. This is crimping news to the folks who rely on the ability to push back their cruise dates. A Williams Family Blog reader had already rebooked on-board and were hoping to use their reservation for a summer 2015 sailing. “They” will be okay as for guests with existing reservations, they have an additional 6 month extension beyond the now enforced 18 month window for sailing again with the perks.
The revamped policy includes the following:
- 10% off your future cruise based on prevailing rates (this was previously a perk)
- Up to $200 onboard credit per stateroom (this benefit has changed over the course of time, as prior it was also based on your Castaway Club level—but those perks were flat lined a while ago.)
- Reduced deposit (okay, this is where the info starts to splinter a bit—some sources say that the reduced deposit is for cruises of 7 nights or longer, other sources indicate that the reduced deposit is for all sailings. Knowing that the reduced deposit of 10% rather than 20% has been a perk previously, I am leaning towards the side of cruises of any length. If someone has first hand knowledge, please let me know.)
- Guests must complete travel with 18 months in order to maintain these benefits. (I get this one, and at the same time, DCL needs to be able to provide itineraries 18 months ahead in order for me to take full advantage of this one. If we had sailed in October, I would have only had through Dec. 2014 to select from in terms of sail dates and that would not have been 18 months ahead. Ball is in your court DCL, to keep the itineraries released that far in advance.)
- Guests who are unable to sail within this time period will have any current onboard booking benefits removed from their reservation.
- Guests can modify their sailing dates within this 18-month timeframe as long as these modifications are done outside of any applicable cancellation period. (Okay, here is my loop-hole. If we sail and itineraries are not yet released for 18 months prior, I can then make a “dummy” reservation and then push it back as long as it is still within 18 months of when I first made the reservation. This, I can live with.)
Sounds like Disney Cruise Line still wants to offer perks to guests who re-book onboard; which is a good thing. Also sounds like they want people to honor those reservations rather than continually move a reservation and still keep the benefits. And, since DCL has the highest cruiser return rate of any cruise line, they can start to be a bit more stringent with the perks. These policies will also help to have a more accurate inventory of available staterooms with less moving of existing reservations.
Will all of these changes keep us from rebooking onboard? No way! The deposit for our next cruise will be included in the budget. I just need the rest of the itineraries for 2015 to be released!