Disney Repositioning Cruise

This is the most comprehensive guide to Disney Reposition Cruises you’ll find anywhere!

There’s a little secret to saving money on Disney cruises. And it’s called a Disney repositioning cruise. You won’t believe Disney Cruise Line even has this option.

If you’re ready to learn more about what a Disney repositioning cruise is and how it might save you money on your Disney cruise, let’s get started!

Disney Cruise sails in clear sky on the ocean

Table of Contents

What is a Disney Repositioning Cruise?

A Disney repositioning cruise is a special type of cruise Disney cruise lines do in addition to the “regular” cruises.  These cruises are so special, in fact, that they only offer a handful each year. Let’s dig-in and get some additional information on what all this means.

What’s the Difference Between a regular Disney Cruise and the Disney Repositioning Cruise?

For someone who isn’t familiar with the different kinds of Disney cruises, this can be overwhelming to understand. Let’s break it down by discussing two types of Disney Cruises:

The Regular Disney Cruise: You set sail at one port (ie. Miami or Galveston) and sail to multiple destinations (such as islands in the Caribbean) then you return to the same port from which you departed.

You’re basically making a big circle in the ocean, coming back to your starting point.

Disney Repositioning Cruises: Start at one port (ie. Miami or Galveston), but rather than sailing back to that port, the cruise ends at another port, leaving you to find transportation back to the port your departed from or home.

What are the Different Kinds of Disney Repositioning Cruises?

There are several different kinds of Disney repositioning cruises, so let’s get into each and talk about what’s unique about each.

What is a Transatlantic Repositioning Cruise?

Each summer, DCL offers a variety of sailings in and around Europe. In the spring, Disney Magic leaves Miami and crosses the Atlantic Ocean on an extended voyage en route to a European port. In May 2020, the Disney Magic will embark on a 12 night sailing from Florida to Barcelona, Spain.

In the fall, the ship then returns from Europe to the United States. In October 2020, the Magic will sail from England to New York City on a 10-night voyage.

What is a Panama Canal Repositioning Cruise?

This is a cruise leaving from New Orleans, Galveston, Miami or San Diego and sailing through the Panama Canal to the other side of the US.

In March 2020, the Disney Wonder will sail from New Orleans to San Diego on a 14 night journey that passes through the Panama Canal.  From March to November, the ship will sail on multiple west coast itineraries.

Then, in November, it will make its way from San Diego eastward through Panama Canal en route to Galveston, Texas.

What is a European Repositioning Cruise?

This is a cruise leaving from one port in Europe and ending at another port in Europe. During the summer, DCL offers itineraries inside a variety of European ports. Often times, a repositioning cruise will relocate the ship from one region of Europe to another. 

For example, in 2020, the Disney Magic will reposition from Barcelona to Rome, from Rome back to Barcelona a few weeks later, from Barcelona to Dover (England), and from Dover to Copenhagen.

What is a California Repositioning Cruise?

Once a ship is located on the west coast of the United States, it will serve a variety of ports, with regular sailings to Mexico (from San Diego) and Alaska (from Vancouver). 

A California repositioning cruise is necessary to get the ship from San Diego to Vancouver or vice versa. 

What is a Hawaiian Repositioning Cruise?

Hawaii is not an annual sailing for Disney Cruise Line, but in 2020, Disney Wonder will visit the Hawaiian islands. There are two bookable sailings – one that leaves Vancouver British Columbia and terminates in Honolulu and another that goes back the opposite way, starting in Hawaii and ending in Canada. 

Disney Cruise sailing by island with storm clouds

How Much Does a Disney Repositioning Cruise Cost?

The cost of a repositioning cruise must be more than a shorter cruise, right? 

To cruise from one continent to the other or around an entire continent for 10-14 days is going to cost more than toodling around in the Bahamas for 3-4 days. Right?

Here’s the reality:

The per person cost of a Repositioning Cruise can sometimes be less expensive than a regular Disney Cruise sailing. 

Example: 

Let’s take a look at two cruises in November 2020. 

Both cruises are priced for 2 people, inside stateroom. (Prices as of August 2019)

  1. 8-Night Very Merrytime Eastern Caribbean Cruise (Nov 28, 2020) from Port Canaveral is priced at $4,457. That’s $557 per night.
  2. 14-Night Very Merrytime Eastbound Panama Canal Cruise (Nov 6, 2020) from San Diego ending in Galveston costs $5,106. That’s $365 per night.  

In total, it is $461 for an additional 5 nights on the Panama cruise. 

And your cost per night is $192 less on the Panama cruise.

To keep the comparison consistent, the same prices* for the different room types for each of these cruises is:

*prices as of August 19, 2019


InsideOceanviewVerandahConcierge
8-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise from Port Canaveral (Nov 28, 2020)$4,457$4,505$5,033$10,073
Average Per Day Cost Per Person for the 8-Night$557$563$629$1,259
14-Night Panama Canal Cruise from San Diego ending in Galveston (Nov 6, 2020)$5,106$5,918$7,542$17,538
Average Per Day Cost Per Person for the 14-Night$365$423$538$1,253
Per night difference?Save $192 per nightSave $140 per nightSave $91 per nightSave $6 per night

Prices Vary…But You Get the Idea

Of course there are other repositioning cruises that cost more (much more) and others that cost less. This is simply a comparison of two cruises in a similar time frame that are both “average” for their type.

Why is there this cost difference? 

The cruise line is moving the ship from one port to another to do a series of sailings from the second port, so there are fewer of them. And there’s less demand for non-round trip cruises for a variety of reasons that we’ll get into in a moment. So the cruise line simply doesn’t charge as much on average, as it does for it’s more standard cruises.

How to Save Money on a Disney Repositioning Cruise

So, basically, the major cost savings on a Disney Repositioning Cruise is booking the repositioning cruise rather than the “regular” cruise. But there are other ways to save a little more money while you’re planning your cruise.

  • Use the Disney Visa or Disney Premier Visa card. I go into depth on this in this article, but you can basically charge the cruise to your Disney Visa card and earn points to apply toward the balance.
  • Book Early. Literally, they only release their schedule twice a year, so getting up early on that day and booking 12-18 months out will help get a better price. The price is the lowest when it is first released.
  • Book Off-Season. Just like any vacation, booking in winter is going to be a cheaper option (except when kids are out of school).
  • Book Your Next Trip While Onboard Your Last Trip. You can get a substantial discount (10%) for booking your next Disney cruise while you’re still on the boat. Plus, you can get a discount on the amount required for a deposit. 
  • Buy Disney Gift Cards Using Your Target Card (then use the gift card to pay for the cruise). Target’s Red Card provides a 5% discount on all purchases–including Disney Gift Cards. So, you buy your gift cards at 5% off and then you use those gift cards to pay for the cruise, thus saving 5% on the cruise.
  • Use a Travel Agent. Travel agents often have access to incentives that those of us in the public have no idea even exist. 
  • Bring Your Own Alcohol. This can be a big money-saver if you would like to enjoy a glass of wine or champagne onboard. I go into this in depth here.
  • Plan Your Own Excursions. When in port, rather than booking all the excursions that are available, you can set up your own.
  • Transfers. When going from the airport to the port to get on your cruise or from port to the airport on the way home, Disney does offer transfers, but it’s a cost of $70 per person. Using an Uber or renting a car might be more economical, depending on the number of people in your party. If you’re sailing out of Port Canaveral, read my money-saving tips.

What happens on a Disney Repositioning Cruise?

On a repositioning cruise, you still get all of the fun activities of a regular Disney cruise. You’re not going to lose out on any of the character meet-and-greets or fun classes. 

What are the pros and cons of a Disney Repositioning Cruise?

Pros

  • There’s more time to enjoy the ship since you won’t be stopping at a port every single day.
  • There are fewer decisions to make, because there are fewer ports of call per week–not as many excursions and all those offs and ons and whether to gos…
  • More downtime = a lot more relaxation. which, isn’t that the point?!
  • More time to experience more fun things onboard (like the premium restaurants).
  • More gym time (because who doesn’t want to spend more time at the gym while you’re on vacation?!)
  • More spa time = a LOT more relaxation (yeah, guess what I’m booking two of!)
  • More time to watch more movies in the Buena Vista theater.
  • Price per person is lower, on average, as shown in our example in the table above.
  • Spicing-up the “usual” if you have taken all the other cruises.
  • Two cities to explore on the front end and tail end of your trip.

Cons

  • Travel logistics: you’ll have to fly into one city to depart (unless you happen to live in or near the port), then another on the other side of the trip. So, that means arranging transportation on both ends with different companies and different situations.
  • Airfare cost could be higher, given that you’re effectively purchasing two one-way tickets. 
  • More days at sea. This could be a pro or a con depending who you are and whether you enjoy being on the boat or out on the land.
  • You might have to pack a few more outfits if you take one of the longer cruises.

Note: Star Wars Cruise and Marvel Cruise do not typically involve repositioning.