This is a big news this week, following the release of early 2015 itineraries, Disney Cruise Line revised their onboard booking offer policy. As of yesterday, November 12, 2013 all NEW onboard bookings must be used within 18 months, or you will lose any associated onboard booking benefits. This means that you can no longer book a dummy date while onboard, and move it indefinitely while maintaining the onboard booking offer benefits associated with the reservation beyond 18 months. Remember that nice 50% discount on the deposit when booking onboard, this is now limited to sailings of 7-nights or longer. This effectively means you will not get a reduced deposit for any cruise on the Disney Dream. The 10% discount on prevailing rates is unchanged.
So, what happens with all those guests who already have an onboard reservation? Guests with future onboard booking benefits are not immune to this new policy. DCL decided to start the clock on all currently held onboard bookings with one caveat, instead of 18 months like a new reservation Disney is adding on an additional 6 months. This means that anyone with a future booking will have until November 30, 2015 to use the benefit.
The new onboard booking policy states that if you are unable to sail within the timeframe any onboard booking benefits will be removed from your reservation. It is important to keep in mind your reservation will still exist, but any onboard credit you received from Disney and the 10% fare discount would be removed. The new policy at its core is use it, or lose it!
Clearly, this is the next step Disney Cruise Line is taking to limit dummy bookings. Last spring, the policy was tweaked to limit the number of onboard bookings from a per person to per stateroom. Then, later in the year the onboard booking agents, if you told them, or they determined you were trying to book a dummy date would just book a predetermined sailing in an attempt to control inventory for others who actually wanted to sail on the cruise that was being held as a dummy booking.
From my perspective, I would much rather have the option to purchase some sort of voucher with associated benefits for a future Disney Cruise, and avoid the song and dance of picking and managing a dummy date. A voucher system would free up stateroom inventory from those camping to guests who actually want to sail on that particular sailing. The 18 month expiration date is fair going forward, but not grandfathering previous reservations will likely effect some guests who have accumulated many onboard bookings over the years, under the previous set of guidelines. Furthermore, the 18 month policy is a bit restrictive if you look at a scenario where current guests sailing today who would like to book a Summer 2015 cruise cannot because they would be unable to move the booking out past May ’15 and keep the OBB benefits. The reduced deposit is not that big of a deal considering it is simply an offset of the total cruise fare and most importantly the 10% discount is still a perk to re-booking onboard.
What are your thoughts about the onboard booking policy change?