A Disney Cruise placeholder is an incentive to book future cruises only available to passengers while they’re on a Disney Cruise.
If sailing with Disney Cruise Line is in your future, you’ll want to be savvy about Disney Cruise placeholders (referred to by Disney as “onboard booking offers”) before setting sail. There are so many fun things to do on Disney ships that, while they’re not a secret, it’s easy to miss booking that cruise placeholder if you don’t know the opportunity exists. This guide to placeholders and the perks (and limitations) of booking one will give you all the information to help you decide whether signing up for this discount is right for you. Spoiler alert: It probably is.
If you’ve enjoyed your time aboard one of Disney Cruise Line’s five ships and can reasonably foresee another cruise within the next 2 years, booking a placeholder makes sense and gives you something to look forward to between vacations.
What’s A Disney Cruise Placeholder?
Pretty much what it sounds like. While you don’t actually book your future cruise while you’re on a Disney Cruise, you pay a deposit that sets you up for a future discount that can be used within the next 24 months. You’ll get an overall 10 percent discount on your cruise when you book it.
The deposit is $250 per stateroom, which will go toward the cost of your future cruise. If you work with a travel planner, you’ll have 30 days to transfer the booking. Disney Cruise Line will send you a confirmation email, so just forward that your planner/agent if you use one.
Here are some perks of booking a Disney Cruise placeholder.
1. It’s Super Easy
Here’s how to do it. If you want to take advantage of the cruise placeholder, you can do it on the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app (available on Google Play and the App Store). A couple of taps is all it takes, and the credit card associated with your stateroom will be charged. You’ll be able to see the charge in your folio, along with anything else you might have charged to your stateroom while on board (like alcohol, souvenirs, spa treatments, and so on.)
If you’re tech challenged, you can look for the Future Cruise Desk on board. Disney Cruise Line has gone increasingly digital (one recent unpopular decision was to eliminate the paper Navigator that listed daily activities), and you might have a difficult time finding the Future Cruise Desk manned. We’ve seen the Future Cruise Desk on our last two Disney Cruises (both in 2022) but haven’t seen humans at that desk once. If you want to talk to a live person before booking a cruise placeholder, or just need help, go to guest services.
You can book up to two staterooms (one sail date) per household on board.
2. It Saves You Money
Disney Cruise Line’s prices are at the high end of the cruise pricing spectrum. If you’re looking for discount prices on cruises, Disney isn’t typically going to be where you look. The cruise placeholder discount is one of the few that Disney Cruise Line consistently offers.
Ten percent off your cruise might not seem like a ton, but it’s about as good of a discount as you’re going to get with Disney. The initial deposit also goes toward the cost of your future cruise. You may be required to pay an additional deposit when you actually go to book your cruise, but your cost will be reduced by $250, so the amount may not seem as daunting.
3. It Mitigates The ‘Sad Trombone’ Of Getting Off The Ship
Cruise time always seems to be at warp speed for me. I look forward to my cruise for what seems like ages, and it’s over all too quickly. Our family is always a little mopey on that last day because we don’t want our good times to come to an end. Booking the cruise placeholder gives you that little treat to look forward to and turns a goodbye into a “See you real soon.”
Guardrails And Limitations To Be Aware Of
While booking a cruise placeholder is a good deal, there are some limitations passengers need to be aware of before they start pushing buttons in the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app.
Don’t wait too long. The link to the placeholder in the app goes away at midnight on the last full day of the cruise, although you can check with guest services if you miss the booking window in the app.
Disney is strict with the dates. The placeholder is good for 24 months, not 24 months and 1 day. Reserve your placeholder as late in the cruise as possible (so as little as possible of your 24-month clock is ticking while you’re still on board), but don’t leave the actual booking until the last minute.
The Disney Cruise placeholder discount cannot be used in conjunction with other discounts. “The onboard booking offer (AKA placeholder) can be a great value to save on a Disney Cruise,” says Disney Cruise Travel Planner Karen Shelton. “Sadly, all concierge staterooms and suites are excluded from the discount.” If you’ve got your heart set on concierge, this discount won’t be any good to you.
The biggest drawback to booking a cruise when you’ve reserved a placeholder is that you must call and book your cruise versus reserving online. Traditionally, travelers have experienced long hold times on opening day (the first day new cruises/routes are available to book), but cruisers have reported ordinary calls to the Disney Cruise Line call center to be extra long in 2022. You can eliminate the wait time by giving the cruise over to a travel agent (they’ll be the ones waiting on hold, not you), but you’ve only got a 30-day window to do that.
What’s The Catch?
There really isn’t one. Booking a placeholder is about as zero risk as it gets. If you don’t book a cruise within the allotted time, your deposit will be returned to you. You’ve got 2 years to find a cruise, book it, and sail, but if that doesn’t happen, you’ll get your full deposit back. Other than having $250 tied up for 2 years, there’s no risk to booking a cruise placeholder, so if you think you’re going to want to be a repeated Disney cruiser within the allotted time, booking that placeholder is probably a smart decision.