Cruises were once reserved for wealthy globetrotters. These days, cruises are more affordable, but not always “inexpensive.” Disney Cruise Line’s popularity and “demand-based” pricing keep pushing rates up. Still, a seven-night Disney cruise can be comparable in price to a seven-night land vacation at Walt Disney World. To determine what you can afford, make a budget (see below). Budgeting not only keeps you from spending too much, it encourages you to seek out ways to save money. With a little research, you can often get more for less. To get an idea of what an actual cruise costs, check out our recent cruise expenses at the bottom of the page.
A cruise package may include ground transportation, airfare, insurance, lodging at Walt Disney World or your port of embarkation; theme park admission, and other extras. This may seem convenient, but planning each aspect of your cruise yourself often saves you more money. Learn about cruise packages on page 57.
Your cruise expenses fall into six categories: planning, transportation, lodging, cruise passage, port activities, and extras. How you budget for each depends upon the total amount you have available to spend and your priorities. Planning, transportation, lodging, and cruise passage are the easiest to factor ahead of time as costs are fixed. The final two—port activities and extras—are harder to control and can quickly add-up, but we provide sample costs throughout this field guide to help you estimate.
Begin your budget with the worksheet on page 33 (use pencil at the start). Enter the minimum you prefer to spend and the most you can afford in the topmost row. Set as many of these ranges as possible before you delve into the other chapters of this book. Your excitement may grow as you read more, but it is doubtful your bank account will.
As you uncover costs and ways to save money, return to your worksheet and update it. Your budget is a work in progress—try to be flexible within your minimums and maximums. As plans crystallize, write the amount you expect (and can afford) in the Goals column. If you are using PassPockets, transfer the amounts from the Goals column to the back of each PassPocket when you are satisfied with your budget.