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Old 01-07-2013, 10:24 AM   #1 (permalink)
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2014 First time cruisers.. help? :)

My husband just told me he wants to take a Disney Cruise in Feb 2014. We've never taken a cruise before. So I'm going to need some help! He would like to go to the Bahamas. Probably 4 nights. We have three kids so there are five of us. I see they have a special now for kids sailing free from Miami and Galveston. Is this something they offer frequently? Like the free dining in the fall at Walt Disney World? I've also seen on board credits. Which is the best way to go? How far in advance should we book? I also read that kids can use a certified birth certificate instead of a passport for the Bahamas, Bermuda, Carribean, Mexico, and Canada. Would you trust doing this? I'm sure I will have a million more questions.
TIA!
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Book early is my best advice. You will get the best rates and room selection. We booked our upcoming Feb. 2013 cruise back in Oct. of 2011, the first day the dates were released. Now it would cost us about $3500 more for the same cruise and room if we booked it today. If rates do drop and it is before your paid in full date Disney should give you the lower rate if YOU call them! In 2009 we booked a 7 night on the Magic, after we had paid in full, before the 90 day mark Disney offered kids sail free on the cruise we had booked. We called and they refunded us $1500 for our kids portion of the cruise! You have to keep checking rates and offers, because they didn't just apply the new rate. Good Luck !
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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One thing I've learned about cruising with Disney - be prepared to book your next cruise with them while you are on the ship.

I'm not sure about the birth certificates, since we used a passport for my son.

And definitely ask questions...this is the best place to do it!
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Rates and selection tend to go up over time. Since the cheapest staterooms in each major category will sell out first, if you wait in hopes of getting a short-notice deal (like Kids Sail Free), you may have to book a higher-priced stateroom (say, 5A instead of 5D), at a higher demand-driven rate.

The Kids Sail Free offers don't happen on a sufficiently regular basis to predict whether/when they'll be available again. If they have too many vacancies, it's one of the ways they'll try to fill those staterooms. Since kids already sail at relatively low rates, the savings may be less impressive than they seem at first look. Again, if the room's being booked relatively close to sailing, the rate for the adults in the party may be high enough to wipe out the other savings.

On board credits are an incentive offered by some travel agencies. Some very good agencies offer them, but then again, some agencies offering the incentive may not be that good. Your first priority is to find a good travel agent - someone who will do more for you than you can do for yourself. Check out the agency with people you know (if possible). Be prepared to talk to more than one agent/agency before committing - it's about personal service, so you ought to have someone who is knowledgable, easy to work with, and can enhance your vacation. And if you get $100 to spend on board as an extra kicker, so much the better.

The passport rules have a lot of "ifs, ands, and buts," but basically, yes... If you're you're sailing from and returning to the same U.S. port, and you're visiting the Caribbean Basin, Bahamas, or Mexico... yes, kids under 18 can get by with just "proof of citizenship." That can be a certified birth certificate, naturalization papers, etc.

However, if you're crossing any border by air (either planned, or during an unexpected emergency), then everyone needs a passport. If you're crossing the Canadian border, they prefer to see passports these days. Those can be "passport cards" for land or sea, Enhanced Drivers Licenses (if your state offers them), or a full passport.

But also note that folks tend to focus on U.S. passport requirements - what's necessary to re-enter the U.S. The requirements of the countries you visit are up to each of those countries. As noted, for Caribbean, Bahamian, and Mexican ports visited by DCL, whatever is good for the U.S. is good for them (the Caribbean Basin Initiative). The cruise line checks your ID and certifies the passenger and crew lists with the authorities at each port it visits. Canada, again... When the U.S. tightened down on Canadians coming to the U.S., Canada reciprocated.
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