Cruising for Practically Free…Yep..I said Free!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by jenseib, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. jenseib

    jenseib Mommy to Claire

    Oct 28, 2006
    Hi all! It’s me again! I’ve been away for a while but decided it’s time to write about my summer vacation.

    For those that don’t know me, I’m Jen. I am not going to do the long intro as many who are reading probably already know me. If you don’t you can go ahead and find one of my old reports.

    This trip was a last minute booking for the most part. I had been wanting to cruise the special 3 night sailing on the Fantasy this summer but I just couldn’t justify the cost. One of my very good friends, “J”, was sailing that sailing as she would be turning 50 on Castaway Cay day. Who wouldn’t want to spend their 50th there? Right?

    I watched for special rates, which are sometimes released through my job and nothing was showing up…so I pretty much had given up hope, despite J constantly telling me I needed to be there.

    Late June I just happened to be working on something and needed to call DCL. While I was on the phone I asked if they knew of any special rates….BINGO! That cruise was now on the list of ones I could book! I put it on hold immediately.

    I asked Skip (my husband) if he would like to cruise this summer and that I had enough funds to pay for it all and enough airline points to fly us all. His response was a big fat no! I did ask if it was ok for us gals to go (Claire and I) and he said he didn’t care. I then said I would ask my mom as well as she had been hinting for quite some time she wanted to do a cruise.

    Mom said she had to wait till she cleared it from work, so Claire and I booked. (Of course if you know my husband, he then later said he would rather we didn’t go and didn’t understand that we had paid in full already and it was nonrefundable).

    A few days later, Mom said yes and she was added to the reservation.

    And good news!!! Another friend of mine, “P”, was also coming now with her 2 daughters. Her birthday was after the cruise, but she too would be celebrating 50! J was also sailing with 3 of her daughters, one who was on our cruise last summer…so it was going to be a TON of fun!!!

    [​IMG]pc3 by Jenseib, on Flickr

    On to the planning!

    Now if you read my title, I mentioned that I cruised for practically free. That is true, but don’t expect to be able to use all the cost saving ways I used. To start with, I did get a discounted rate, though not cheap, it was cheaper than full rate.

    Over the past year I had done everything I could to save up money and get gift cards for Disney. I actually do this all the time.

    My main way is by doing something called Swagbucks and I also dabble with My Points. With these sites I do “offers”, watch videos, answer surveys, etc to earn points. Those points can be cashed in for gift cards. I then take those gift cards and turn them in for Disney gift cards.

    This is not a quick and easy way to make money, but if you know some of the tricks you can earn free money. I do it pretty much daily and can earn from $25-$150 per month. I would say I average $75 a month. Again, I work at this and I have been doing it for years so I know what credits best for me and how to run videos without me having to monitor them too much.

    I also ask for gift cards for my birthday or other holidays, so I save those up as well.

    When I have some extra cash, or get a rebate from something…I turn those into gift cards as well.

    What it all comes down to is I had enough in gift cards to pay for Claire and I to cruise this cruise. Mom had a Disney Rewards card and that paid half her fare, so she didn’t have much out of pocket there either.

    On to flights. We knew we would come in at least 1 day early and probably would stay 1 day after since the flights were pretty expensive to fly home the day the cruise disembarked. It was cheaper to get a hotel than for the 3 of us to fly home that Sat.

    In the end, J talked me into staying an extra day as well so that we could spend Sunday at Magic Kingdom together. The flight for Monday wasn’t really much of a difference from the Sunday flight and still the hotel cost was cheaper for 2 nights than flying home Sat. (Yeah those Sat flights were HIGH).

    I booked Claire and I to fly with Southwest on points…coming in on July 10 and flying home July 16….early! For Claire and I, the only cost was tax and then I did purchase early bird check in for both ways. I believe the cost total for the 2 of us was around $80….so if you are keeping track…so far I have only spent $80 out of pocket. Of course we booked Mom on the same flights and she did pay for her flights.

    Hotel….we needed to pay for a prenight hotel. J and I discussed it and we decided we wanted to stay at the port. We did some quick looking and then decided on Radisson as it was pretty cheap and we really didn’t want to pay too much. I believe it was just under $130 for a 2 queen room at a prepaid rate. P also decided to stay there as well. This was also an out of pocket expense…but right now I am at about $210 in expenses…not bad for a 6 night vacation!

    Ok….things are coming together! Now we need to decide how to get to and from the port!

  2. mom2rtk

    mom2rtk Invented the term "Characterpalooza"

    Aug 23, 2008
    So did you have to be blonde to go on this trip? :p

    I love that Claire is rocking her Alice t-shirt!

    Reading along! :wave:
  3. Avatar


  4. jenseib

    jenseib Mommy to Claire

    Oct 28, 2006

    Why yes! Blonde and Beautiful!!! LOL!!!
    mom2rtk likes this.
  5. FSU Girl

    FSU Girl DIS Veteran

    Oct 20, 2016
    Joining in! How awesome that you could have this whole trip be basically free, that is really awesome. I just signed up for the Swagbucks because of this lol.
  6. jenseib

    jenseib Mommy to Claire

    Oct 28, 2006

    Thanks for joining.
    FSU Girl likes this.
  7. dizneeat

    dizneeat DIS Veteran

    Apr 9, 2006
    I am here! Can't wait to read about another jenseib adventure! :woohoo:
  8. dnllmz

    dnllmz DIS Veteran

    Jul 13, 2011
    Following along!
  9. jedijill

    jedijill Chiefs fan living in Bronco country

    Jan 17, 2005
    Holy bargain Batman! I'm in for the ride.

    Jill in CO
  10. tammy

    tammy DIS Veteran

    Aug 31, 1999
    Following along.
  11. bcwife76

    bcwife76 DisneyMomma

    Dec 10, 2014
    I'm here!! And ready to read about an epic girls trip!
  12. Timon

    Timon DIS Veteran DIS Lifetime Sponsor

    Aug 18, 1999
    Woo hooo another Jen trippie! :cool1:

    Can't wait to read all about it popcorn::
  13. gayles

    gayles DIS Veteran

    Apr 3, 2006
    Yaaa, can’t wait ..
  14. WDW Fan

    WDW Fan Mouseketeer

    Aug 28, 2005
    Yea, great to see you doing another TR Jenn!!! I know I always make the same comment to you but I love your TR's!!! Sounds like you really saved every way possible for this trip! I have been doing Mypoints for years now and use my gift cards for Starbucks in WDW! I haven't figured out how to get the credits for watching those long videos though without having to constantly be at the computer!
  15. MickeyD

    MickeyD DIS Veteran

    Jul 9, 2005
    Yay! So excited to see another trip report from you! I, too, enjoyed Castaway Cay on my 50th. It was the best way to make that milestone! :)

  16. mickeystoontown

    mickeystoontown DIS Veteran

    Oct 2, 2006
    Yay! Another trip report from Jen! You know what a penny pincher I am so I am loving your savings so far.
  17. TestingH2O

    TestingH2O DIS Veteran

    Jun 10, 2014
    Yay! I'm always excited to follow one of your trip reports.
  18. lorimay

    lorimay Celebrating 32 Ears

    Dec 11, 2008
    The best reports always!
    COASTIEandMATE likes this.
  19. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

    Dec 25, 2007
    I am here.

    It looks like it was meant to happen.

    That is pretty impressive.

    I love this kind of maths.

    COASTIEandMATE likes this.
  20. jenseib

    jenseib Mommy to Claire

    Oct 28, 2006
    Glad you found it!

    Thanks for joining!

    I do try for a bargain every time I go, with this trip being short, I really didn't pay a whole lot out of pocket.

    Thanks for joining


    Glad you are here...wish we could have worked it to be at the same time you were down there.


    Aww thanks! I actually run a lot of videos that just self play on my laptop when I am not using it.

    If all goes well, I do want to Cruise in Feb for my 50th. It may not actually be on my birthday, but if I can find the right cruise for the right price, I am out of here!!!

    Yes, I want to do the most for the least amount of money! I really need to do the saving beforehand as we all know once I get there I seem to think I am rich and money is no object! hahaha!



    I agree it was meant to be. J And P are cruising to Bermuda this month and wanted me to come and I so wanted to, but it just didn't work out. I told them that I would leave it up to fate and maybe something better is in store for the 3 of us later on.

    I definitely was using Disney Math! But it worked. I would rather stay longer than pay for outrageous flights.
  21. jenseib

    jenseib Mommy to Claire

    Oct 28, 2006
    I had a hard time deciding on how we would be getting around .... to and from the port, the parks, etc. Car rentals were going up faster than I could look and I knew I needed a good amount of space with Mom coming. Yes, Claire and I pack a lot, but my Mom packs just as much as the 2 of us…literally. She must plan to change 3 to 4 times a day!

    In the end I went with Alamo, who had pretty much the best pricing, and rented cars for each way. It was still very slightly cheaper for the most part than taking Disney transportation and would be the most practical too. The car rental from MCO to Port Canaveral was $98…basically for 24 hours….the one from Port Canaveral to MCO …keeping it from Sat. pick up till Monday morning drop off…was about $123.50…so add that to my out of pocket expenses…now around $432…give or take.

    Hotels….yes we needed to stay 2 nights after the cruise and as I said before it was cheaper to do that than the Sat. flights had been for all 3 of us…..even using points, I try to be stingy.

    J was staying at Port Orleans French Quarter and I was able to snag a discounted rate there….paid by gift cards!!! No out of pocket cost for that!

    P had family coming down after the cruise, so I believe they stayed at Art of Animation after the cruise.

    Tickets. This was a debate for me. Originally I was going to do just a 1 day ticket, but then staying longer I decided on 2 days. I am able to get a discounted hopper ticket through my work…but not for family or friends. I decided to get Claire just a 2 day base and if we decided to hop I would upgrade at the park. Again… both tickets were paid with GIFT CARDS! Mom went with a 2 day base ticket as well and she paid for that.

    This sounds like it all went smoothly, but remember that this was all booked very last minute…about 2 ½ weeks before we were leaving, so between getting work done and ahead, and researching and booking each segment….It was a crazy few weeks.

    Oh…and we decided to do a private Fish Extender between our 3 rooms….so I snuck in some shopping too. Luckily, I found quite a few things at good prices and made up little baggies of the items for my friends and their kids.

    We had all booked balcony rooms which were Guarantee….meaning they would assign us our rooms. It wasn’t long and we all had room assignments and lucky for us we were all put right next to each other all on deck 10! I haven’t been on 10 before, so I was excited to try a new spot.

    One other thing I wanted to add….I had posted earlier that I booked our air via points. We typically fly Southwest when possible. I have a southwest credit card which earns points with purchases. Also if when we fly on cash flights, we earn points. I also do surveys (something I was invited to from Southwest a few years back) and those earn me points as well. Just doing surveys I earn about 8,000 points, give or take, a year. Depending on flight costs, that right there can get me a one way or even in some cases a round trip ticket.

    For me, I am all about a deal and I have fewer arguments at home if I don’t have to pay much out of pocket!

    Spending money…Again, I don’t count this as out of pocket money for the most part. I have a stash that I save all year round…money from my birthday and other odd things that I may earn a little extra money goes into an envelope for vacation. This money is ONLY for vacations so I never think of it as out of pocket.

    And now…it’s time to go on VACATION!!!!!
    Oregongram, dnllmz, dizneeat and 4 others like this.

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