When Disney recently released summer 2020 itineraries I jumped on an itinerary that makes not one, but two stops (a double dip) at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay.
One of the benefits of being a Disney Cruise Line Castaway Club member is Early Booking for New Itineraries.
Depending on how many cruises you’ve taken with Disney, you can book a cruise before they’re released to the general public.
Why Book Early?
The primary reason to book early is when you want a specific stateroom on a specific itinerary.
But more broadly, the trend with Disney Cruises are that they start out expensive and they go up from there.
I tend to book as soon as I see an itinerary I can justify in my mind. If you’re interested in a historical data on a similar cruise (say from the year before) check out Touring Plans’ excellent fare tracker.
How to Book a Disney Cruise with Citi ThankYou Points During the Early Booking Window
To book a Disney Cruise with Citi, you need to reach a live travel agent in their Cruises & Tours department.
- Call 1-800-THANK-YOU (1-800-842-6596)
- Press “2” for “Thank You points”
- Enter last 4 digits of your Citi Thank You point credit card
- Press “1” for redeem for travel
- Press “4” for cruises and tours
If for some reason that doesn’t work for you, ask for the cruises and tours department the first time you get to speak to a human. Still, you shouldn’t have to worry about that if you follow the prompts above. Note that the cruises and tours department is open 9AM – 9PM EST M-F, and 9AM-5PM EST Saturdays.
During the early booking window, you’ll need to find a Citi/Connexions Loyalty travel agent willing to call Disney with your Castaway Club number to secure the booking.
The first agent I called looking in their online system and didn’t see the itinerary I wanted. Of course she didn’t – the cruise hadn’t been released yet. So I hung up and called back later. The second agent I got was much better.
Anecdotally, the percentage of high quality Connexions Loyalty reps has gone down since they closed their St. Louis office. If you find a good agent, be sure to make note of their contact info. Especially their email address when they send you a booking confirmation. You can use this in the future to inquire about bookings more efficiently than waiting on hold on the phone.
Connexions Loyalty keeps traveler information on file, as does Disney, so it was easy to describe to the agent what itinerary we wanted and the passengers on the sailing. She then took note of my cell phone number, and called Disney and waited on hold for 20 minutes. She called me back to confirm the price matched what I was expecting from pricing it online.
Once I confirmed I indeed wanted her to book it, she called Disney back and put it on hold. The next day she emailed me the details. I then transferred ThankYou points from my account to my wife’s account and she completed the booking. For more details on booking a Disney Cruise with Citi ThankYou Points see the following post.
The amount of uplift you get (what’s that?) towards cruises depends on which Citi credit cards you have. The Premier is the best for cruises because each ThankYou Point is worth 1.25 cents towards a cruise.
An alternate approach, if you didn’t want to involve a Citi travel agent on opening day, would be to book directly with Disney and pay a deposit to hold the cruise. Then transfer the cruise to Citi and pay for some portion of the remaining balance with ThankYou Points. Then pay for the remaining balance with a Citi credit card or Disney Gift Cards.
In reality, it’s probably not necessary to book quite so early, unless you want a specific stateroom on a unique itinerary.
But if you do, I hope this guide is useful in using bank points to book the cruise during the early booking window. The same approach should also work City National Bank Rewards.
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