Disney cruises are popular options for families. There are a plethora of activities onboard ships and ports of call. However, the timing of your cruise can be an essential factor in deciding whether it’s the right choice. Here are some things to consider when planning your trip and choosing the best time to go on a Disney cruise.

Family Schedules

A Disney cruise is a great choice any time of year, but some months and weeks are better than others.

First and foremost, the month you choose to go on a Disney cruise will depend on your preferences and when you and your family can travel—establishing a family schedule before planning will allow you to determine when everyone in your family can travel.

Be aware of your family’s school schedule, work schedule, and upcoming events. Once you know when everyone will be available, you can search for specific dates and itineraries.

There are more options if you are retired, have a flexible schedule, or are not traveling with children. But for most of us, you’ll have to pick what works best for everyone in your family or group.

Crowds

If you’ve ever taken a Disney cruise, you know it’s a fantastic experience regardless of when you go. However, crowds may influence when you decide when you should go.

Disney cruises are most crowded during school breaks, summer, and significant holiday weeks like Spring Break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. 

You get a lot of families during these periods since these are usually the only times when everyone in the family can take a vacation together. Most staterooms can accommodate 4 or 5 passengers, so the ship will seem (and be) more full (with families) during a peak time than during an off-peak period when there’s a higher percentage of couples.

Likewise, sailings on dates near a school break – or that fall near a long weekend – are usually busier as many families pull their children out of school for the weekend.

Off-peak times, like the fall, are less crowded for Disney cruises. In addition to offering better rates, off-peak times also tend to provide more stateroom availability and choices. Reserving far in advance will get you the best rates and a guaranteed stateroom.

Disney cruise ships are big and spacious, so even when the vessel is full, there is still room to escape the crowds, and you can always book a spacious cabin to retreat to. Some people find that the dining rooms and swimming pools are really the only crowded spots. However, each cruise is different.  You’ll never experience Disney World-type crowds, though!

Recommendation: Off-peak times are less crowded. 

DCL Disney Cruise Line Crowds

Crowd levels can impact your decision on when is the best time to go on a Disney Cruise

If you need help navigating your Disney Cruise Line vacation plans, we highly recommend contacting The Vacationeer.

Their team of experienced Disney travel agents will help you find the lowest price and the best itineraries, and there’s never an additional charge for their services! Click HERE for a free, no-obligation price quote.

Costs

There is some overlap between crowds and prices. It is best to depart at off-peak times if possible.

Disney increases its prices during the summer and during major holidays, such as Spring Break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. When cruising during the summer, avoid the peak season by going at the beginning – or end – of summer break if you have children.

The cost of Disney cruises tends to be lower when schools are in session since families are less likely to book cruises. There are also seasons when tickets are cheaper due to the calendar or weather.

Disney cruises are typically less expensive during:

  • January (except for New Year’s week)
  • Early February
  • May
  • September and October
  • Early November
  • Early December

You can save a lot of money when you book a Disney cruise during one of these off-peak times. Additionally, Disney offers special themed cruises during these slower times to attract more tourists.

Another option for sailing during peak season is to book a last-minute cruise. This can be a great way to score a deal, but it’s important to remember that you won’t have much choice when it comes to selecting your stateroom.

Other Ways to Get Discounts

Disney typically offers discounts for Florida residents, US military members, and Disney Vacation Club and Castaway Club members. Our Ways to Save Money on Disney Cruises article examines these cost-saving strategies in greater depth.

Additionally, some Disney travel agencies offer generous onboard credit, essentially free money to pay for tipping, alcohol, excursions, etc., on a cruise ship. This perk is offered to incentivize clients to book a cruise with them (instead of through Disney or another agency).

Are you interested in receiving free onboard credit? We recommend the commission-free travel agents at The Vacationeer, who offer among the highest onboard credit in the industry. Click HERE for a free, no-obligation price quote and find out how much you can save on your Disney cruise.

Recommendation: Prices are usually lower during off-peak weeks and months. Use a Disney travel agent that offers onboard credits.

Weather

When it comes to the weather, the best time to go on a Disney cruise depends on where you are heading. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect at each port of call.

The Bahamas and the Caribbean

The weather is generally very pleasant in the Bahamas no matter when you visit. For this reason, Disney offers at least one cruise to the Bahamas at any given time throughout the year.

Generally, December through May are ideal months to sail to the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Avoid the Bahamas and Caribbean in July and August if you do not like hot and humid weather. Sure, it’s not oppressively hot, you can easily find air-conditioning aboard the ship, and the pool is always a great option. However, you may not be able to enjoy your port adventures as much if it’s in the 80s or 90s during the day.

For reference, Castaway Cay (in the Bahamas) has an average temperate of around 69 in January, 74 in April, 84 in July, and 74 in November, so it’s pretty nice all year long.

There is also hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 through November 30. It is historically most active between August and September, so it may be a good idea to consider travel insurance if you plan on cruising to the Bahamas or the Caribbean during this time.

Recommendation: Winter or Spring is the best time to sail to the Bahamas or the Caribbean. 

Alaska

Disney Cruise Line offers Alaska cruises from May to September. As this timeframe emphasizes, Alaska’s cruise season is relatively short, and cruises to Alaska are not available in the winter.

Alaskan temperatures usually range from mid-thirties to low forties Fahrenheit in May and September, but highs can reach the upper fifties. The weather has an average temperature in the low-60s during June, July, and August.

Alaska’s native wildlife is most visible during the summer months of June, July, and August. September is the best time to try to see the Northern Lights, though Disney cruises stay far enough south that such sightings are quite rare.

Recommendation: Summer is the best time to go on a Disney Alaskan cruise.

Europe

Most Disney cruises in Europe take place between May and September. For most areas in this region, this is the warmest and driest time of year and, indeed, the most pleasant time to cruise.

Recommendation: Summer is the best time to go on a Disney European cruise.

Mexico

Disney cruises to Mexico every Spring and Fall each year. These are reliably warm months in the Mexican Riviera and Baja, Mexico. That said, the weather is typically more comfortable in March and April than in September and October.

Recommendation: Spring is the best time to sail to Mexico.

Itineraries

Several Disney Cruise Line itineraries are only available during specific times of the year.

Alaskan cruises, for instance, are only available during the late spring and summer months due to the cold weather for the remainder of the year. If you wish to take one of those cruises, your options will be limited.

There are also limited sailings in Northern Europe and San Diego.

Recommendation: It comes down to when and where you wish to sail. See our Best Disney Cruise Line Itineraries page for suggestions.

Disney’s Themed Cruises

Several themed cruises are also available during certain times of the year. If you are interested in one of these themed cruises, the time of year you choose to sail will affect whether you qualify for one of those special cruises.

Disney-themed cruises include Halloween on the High Seas (Autumn) and Very Merrytime Cruises (December), Marvel Day at Sea (various dates), and Pixar Day at Sea (multiple dates). These specialty cruises are sure to be popular options. Each one offers a unique experience that will surely be memorable for all who attend.

Book your cruise as early as possible if you have your heart set on sailing during one of these special event sailings. Disney cruises sell out fast, and the closer you get to your desired travel date, the less likely you are to find availability.

Recommendation: It depends on which themed cruise appeals to you.

Ages at Time of Travel

As opposed to asking what the best time of the year is, you might be asking what the right age your children should be for a Disney Cruise. They won’t be able to participate in all the activities if they are too young.

The kids’ clubs are best enjoyed by children who are old enough. You kids will probably want to spend the majority of their time at those youth clubs while at sea. Children as young as three are welcome, but we find that children five and older will find them to be very enjoyable.

Recommendation: Disney cruises are best for adults and children ages 5+.

DCL Disney Cruise Oceaneer Club

Kids love Disney Cruise Line's Oceaneer Club | Image © Disney-Pixar

The Verdict: When is the Best Time to Go on a Disney Cruise?

Regarding saving money, the best time to go on a Disney cruise is during an off-peak time. For Disney Cruise Line, this means avoiding school holidays and peak summer months. Sailing during an off-peak time can save you money on your cruise fare, and you’ll also find more stateroom options available.

Similarly, Disney cruises are most crowded during school breaks, summer, and significant holiday weeks like Spring Break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. If your priority is avoiding crowds, plan your trip during a time when kids won’t be on break.

If the weather is more important to you, the best time to book a Disney cruise depends on your destination. If you plan on sailing to the Bahamas or Caribbean, we recommend between December and May. A cruise to Mexico will be best in the spring. Summer is the best time for cooler weather destinations like Alaska and northern Europe.

When it comes to taking a themed cruise, you have fewer options because they are only available for a limited time. You’ll have to pick a departure that works best for you.

Last but most importantly, you’ll need to determine when everyone in your family will be available to travel and their preferences. You will need to figure out your family’s work schedule, school schedule, and upcoming events. When you know when everyone will be available, you can search for specific dates and itineraries.

You’ll have more options if you aren’t traveling with children, have a flexible schedule, or are retired. In most cases, however, you’ll have to decide what’s best for everyone in your group or family.

Frequently Asked Questions on When It’s Best to Sail with Disney

Here are some additional questions people ask when determining the best times to go on a Disney cruise.

When is the most popular time to go on a Disney Cruise?

Disney Cruises during the summer and winter holidays and those during spring break tend to be the most popular. For the best rates and stateroom availability during peak season, it is recommended that you book one year in advance. The earlier the better!

What is the cheapest month to go on Disney cruise ships?

A Disney cruise is most affordable during the months of mid-to-late January, early February, or early May. Some weeks in March and April are also cheaper, while September, early November, and early December are also good options.

What months should you not go on a cruise?

Hurricanes are more likely to develop in August and October, while September has the highest probability of developing into hurricanes. For this reason, September is the worst month of the year to take a cruise to the Bahamas or Caribbean.

It’s relatively rare for a cruise to be completely canceled due to a hurricane, but they may drastically alter their itineraries due to storms. We’ve seen ships change the order they visit ports, completely miss some ports, and even shorten/lengthen the entire cruise to miss the worst of the storm at a home port.

But if you don’t mind risking it (or have suitable travel insurance), then September can be a beautiful month to cruise.

Do cruise prices go down closer to the date?

As a general rule, cruise prices are lower when they are first put up for sale, which occurs 18 to 24 months before departure. Only if the cruise doesn’t sell out will there be a price drop on the cruise.

Is it cold on Disney Cruise?

Packing layers is recommended for ANY Disney cruise, but it is especially important for cold-weather cruises since there will be a lot of temperature changes. Depending on your itinerary, it probably makes sense to pack a few jackets, sweaters, and lightweight tops, along with your t-shirts, shorts, swimsuit, and footwear.

Even on warm-weather cruises, the ship’s travel speed on open water will often create a stiff breeze on the ship’s decks and your private verandah (if your stateroom is so equipped) — strong enough to make a windbreaker desirable for some travelers.

Ready to Book your Disney Cruise?

Working with an experienced travel agent is the best way to ensure smooth sailing, and The Vacationeer is ready and willing to help you determine the best time to go on a Disney cruise in 2023 or 2024.

Their team of Disney travel agents can arrange every part of your cruise and provide a generous onboard credit you can use towards purchases and activities while you’re on the ship.

There’s never any obligation to book, and there’s no additional charge to use their planning services! Click HERE to get a free quote today.