Q & A: How to Charter a Cruise Ship
How early should I plan a private charter?
Ideally, begin planning a full ship charter at least 12-18 months in advance to allow time for logistics, promotion, and best availability. Partial charters may require 12 months, but sometimes less.
Can I choose the cruise destinations and itinerary?
Absolutely, you can typically select desired destinations and build a customized itinerary, subject to the ship’s capabilities and any restrictions. The cruise line or travel agency can advise on the optimal itinerary. Partial charters and contact group charters have less flexibility since they are not full ship charters, and there will be other passengers aboard.
Are there usually cancellation penalties for private charters?
Yes, cancellation penalties for private charters are typical and can be significant. However, in certain contract group charters, unused room allocations might be releasable without penalties as the sailing date nears, and additional rooms can sometimes be added (if needed). Always thoroughly review cancellation policies and associated fees before finalizing any charter agreement.
How can a travel agency assist with a private cruise charter?
Agencies can help with financial arrangements, negotiations, logistics, staffing, customization, and insider knowledge of ships, deals, and revenue guarantees. An experienced travel agency like The Vacationer is invaluable.
What kind of onboard equipment and amenities are included?
Many ships offer state-of-the-art AV equipment, conference spaces, entertainment systems, etc. If certain items aren’t available, the cruise line or travel agency may be able to arrange specialized rentals.
Does pricing for private charters differ significantly?
Yes, pricing varies based on factors like cruise line, ship size/age, amenities, and more. Luxury ships may cost more but offer intimate, high-end experiences. Mass-market ships provide more capacity for potentially lower per-person rates.
What is included with chartering a private cruise ship?
Inclusions can vary by cruise line, but most charters include meeting spaces, dining, activities, entertainment, standard beverages, and more. As the charterer, you can often fully customize offerings to align with your event theme and brand. The cruise line or charter agency handles the arrangements, allowing you to focus on planning a phenomenal event.
What are some key questions to ask about customizing the experience?
Ask about décor rules, brand integration opportunities, entertainment options, specialty menus, securing rental equipment, and any legal/liquor restrictions based on your itinerary.
Are there tips for maximizing value when chartering?
Opt for off-peak dates, scale guest count to ship size, avoid over-customizing, and work with an agency to find deals. Release unused cabin allotments if possible.
Does Disney Cruise Line offer private charters?
Full ship charters with Disney Cruise Line are extremely rare. Disney seems to prefer keeping their ships open to the general public rather than doing private takeovers.
In their 25+ year history, Disney has only done a handful of full charters for select groups such as Disney Vacation Club members or media partners (TCM, for example).
The cost to fully charter a Disney ship is speculated to be several million dollars, likely putting it out of reach for most. Booking Disney group cruises or partial charters may be a better option for groups to enjoy a touch of Disney magic.
For more details about Disney cruises, reach out to our recommended Disney travel agencies. You can also take a deep dive into our cruise line comparison pages: Disney Cruise vs Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise vs Norwegian, Disney Cruise vs Carnival, Disney Cruise vs Princess, and Best Kid-Friendly Cruise Lines.