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Long-time blog readers know that my family loves Disney Cruise Line (DCL). I’ve been on 8 DCL cruises, most recently on a Very MerryTime cruise on the Disney Dream.
One thing my family has never done is splurge on the concierge level on DCL. This week, TPG wrote a very detailed review of concierge level on DCL. It’s a great overview of the concierge benefits on DCL. But after reading it, I’m even more convinced DCL concierge level is not worth it for my family.
We Don’t Need Concierge Level to Board Early
One of the benefits of concierge level on DCL is that concierge guests board the ship first. They are in boarding group #1. Getting on the ship early certainly has its advantages. The buffet restaurant isn’t crowded, and the pools are still fairly empty.
However, on all of our cruises, we have boarded literally minutes (or seconds) behind the concierge guests. The secret is to do online check-in the moment your window opens. Depending on your Castaway Club level, this is 75-120 days before the cruise. I always stay up until midnight the night before (or 11 p.m. Central) to get the earliest Port Arrival Time (PAT) possible. The earlier the PAT, the lower the boarding group.
On our last cruise, even though we arrived 30 minutes after our PAT, we still received boarding group #2. We were right behind the concierge guests.
On our very first cruise when we couldn’t do online check-in until 75 days prior, we received boarding group #5. Since there are over 30 boarding groups, we were still some of the first people on board.
The On-board Lounge Isn’t Appealing
My kids would not be impressed by the on-board concierge lounge. There is so much free food on the ship. Cabanas (buffet restaurant) has so many good choices that they would probably end up there after the lounge anyway.
My husband and I don’t drink alcohol, so the complimentary alcohol in the lounge would be of no value to us.
While Cabanas can get crowded, we’ve always had luck asking a crew member to help us find a table. We also try to go down early for breakfast and lunch to avoid the busiest times.
We’ve Never Had an Issue Booking Specialty Restaurants or Excursions
Concierge guests get to book specialty restaurants and excursions first before all other guests. However, we’ve never had an issue booking these, even on our first cruise. As long as we start picking on the day we’re eligible to check in before our cruise (11 p.m. Central the night before), we get what we want.
DCL holds back a number of slots at the specialty restaurants and for character greetings. If you can’t reserve what you want before your cruise, just go to guest services as soon as you board.
OMG…The Cost for 5 People
My family prefers 7-night cruises over the shorter 3- and 4-night cruises. The longer cruises have more entertainment, better ports and are just overall more relaxing.
However, the cost for concierge on the longer cruises is insane. For a 7-night cruise next February for my family of 5, the cost is almost $8000 more (or double!)
Now that my boys are older and enjoying the tween and teen clubs, we like to get two connecting rooms when we cruise so that we all don’t wake up with their late arrivals at night. Splurging on concierge means going back to sleeping in one room. The cost of two concierge rooms is over the top.
Even on a shorter 4-night cruise, the cost of concierge for 5 people in one room is over $3000 more.
But the Castaway Cay Cabanas….
Admittedly, the only reason concierge appeals to me is to snag one of the cabanas on Castaway Cay. There are only a handful, and concierge guests snatch them up on every cruise. Ever since my family enjoyed a cabana at Aulani, I’ve wanted to repeat the experience.
However, if we sailed concierge just to get the cabana at Castaway Cay, the cost wouldn’t be just the $600+ for the actual cabana. It would be the thousands of dollars we had to pay for the concierge level. And when I think about that, the cabana becomes less appealing.
Disney Cruise Line is a splurge in and of itself. My family feels spoiled and entertained every time. We don’t need the cost of the extra benefits of concierge. Even if someone offered to pay for the upgrade to concierge, I’d rather take the money and go on two cruises for the same price as one cruise in concierge.
Concierge level on other cruise lines has more benefits, like a private restaurant, private pool, reserved seating at shows, etc. I am open to exploring that on other cruise lines if the price is more reasonable.
Have you sailed on concierge level on DCL or another cruise line? Do you think it’s worth the extra cost?
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.