Cruises Points and Miles

Castaway Club Levels with Disney Cruise Line: Big Who Cares?

Last Updated on October 31, 2021

Disney fanatics lose their minds over their status with the Disney Cruise Line loyalty program. It is a source of pride amongst Mickey ear-sporting adults across the land. Here’s the truth. Castaway Club levels are really not something about which to write home.

You cannot hack your status with credit card spend, so you have to spend an insane amount of money on cruises to get to the highest Castaway Club tier. I love free discounts and perks, but unlike some loyalty programs that offer huge benefits like hotel suite and flight upgrades, you don’t get all that much with Disney’s program. You should choose Disney Cruise Line because it has amazing sailings, not because you are chasing a status.

What Should You Know About Disney Cruise Castaway Club Levels?

1. Disney Castaway Club Levels Overview

2. Disney Cruise Silver Member Benefits

3. Disney Gold Benefits

4. Castaway Platinum

5. Ways to Get Perks Regardless of Disney Cruise Loyalty Levels

Chip and Dale

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Disney Cruise Line Castaway Club Levels

1. Castaway Club Disney Levels Overview

What is the Castaway Club?

Castaway Club is Disney Cruise Line’s attempt to reward loyalty. It has figured out that offering people free stuff, even if the value is the equivalent of a pittance, inspires repeat cruisers to further feed the mouse.

Cost

Castaway Club DCL membership is free, so the price is right.

How Do You Become A Castaway Club Member?

You are automatically enrolled in the Castaway Club upon completion of your first sailing. To ultimately reach Disney Cruise Platinum status, you must include your Castaway Club Member Number on future reservations.

How Can I Find My Castaway Club Number?

You can find your Castaway Club Number by logging onto Disney Cruise Line’s website. The number is also listed on your Key to the World cards (room keys) from prior sailings.

What Are the Disney Cruise Levels?

The Castaway Club levels are:

1. Silver

2. Gold

3. Platinum

Do Castaway Club Levels and Benefits Expire?

Your DCL Castaway Club level does not have an expiration date. Unlike your status with a hotel or airline that can change annually, your Disney Cruise Line status stays with you forever.

How Are Castaway Club Member Levels Calculated?

Castaway Club levels are based upon the number of cruises on which you have sailed, not the number of nights. In other words, someone who sails ten two night cruises has a better status than someone who sailed two fourteen night cruises.

Do Castaway Club Members Get a Discount?

Cruise Fares

There is no official Castaway Club discount on cruise fares. Members sometimes get lower fares on popular sailings because they can book before the general public, and prices with Disney only go up as staterooms fill.

Castaway Club Merchandise Discounts

Gold and Platinum Castaway Club members get a nominal discount on some merchandise onboard. They do not receive a discount on merchandise on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

Mini golf

2. What Do Silver Castaway Club Members Get?

What is a Silver Castaway Club member?

You obtain Castaway Club Level Silver status after you complete your first sailing. A booked cruise that has not yet sailed is not enough.

What Are the Silver Castaway Club Membership Benefits?

What do you get on your second Disney Cruise to reward you for your loyalty? There are a few benefits. Some are decent Castaway Club perks, and some are obviously just filler.

Real Disney Castaway Club Member Benefits

A. Early Booking

Being a Castaway Club member allows you to book new cruises before the general public. Disney cruises are at their cheapest when they are first released. As rooms fill, prices go up, so it is possible you may get you a cheaper fare on popular cruises. The company has successfully convinced people that it is exciting to hand them a bucket of money. There is no shortage of demand, so it is rare to find last minute discounts.

Occasionally, popular sailings sell out before the general public can book. Silver membership could get you on a sailing on which you otherwise could not.

Advanced Castaway Club Booking Window: One day before the general public

B. When Can Silver Castaway Club Members Book Excursions and Onboard Activities?

Disney Cruise Silver benefits allow members to book onboard activities and shore excursions before the general public. This is technically a perk because things book up fast. However, I would argue the majority of the onboard activities you can book ahead of time aren’t that exciting.

If you are unable to get what you want during online check in, you can usually find availability when you board the ship regardless of status. Haul it to the desk first thing if said activity is important to you.

Shore excursions are generally operated by independent companies. You can often book these directly with the providers for much less. Unless new restrictions are put in place when cruises resume that require you to book through the cruise line, seriously consider booking on your own.

Advanced Booking Window: 90 days prior to sailing (15 days ahead of the general public)

Captain Hook

Fluff Castaway Club Benefits Disney Cruise

A. Castaway Club Member Communications

Disney Cruise Line claims to send “periodic” communications to members. This is obviously code for email, and I remember receiving exactly zero. If it sent them at all, they were certainly not memorable.

B. Dedicated Castaway Club Phone Line

Disney Cruise Line is known to have some ridiculously long hold times when new sailings are released. I am willing to bet the hold times aren’t much better on this line. Instead of calling Disney using this Castaway Club Silver benefit, use a travel agent to get some onboard credit.

C. Access to Castaway Club Website

There is a dedicated website for Castaway Club members that requires a Disney Cruise login. Let me save you some time. There is nothing special happening there. As of the time of this writing, there is a total of three recipes that I’m sure are readily available through Google, and some information about my prior sailings and Disney Castaway Club benefits. That’s it.

D. Silver Castaway Club Check In at the Terminal

Castaway Club members have access to dedicated lines when they check in at the terminal. This sounds nice, but everyone is given a port arrival time, so this isn’t going to make the experience feel any less like the cattle call that it is.

E. Castaway Club Welcome Offer Gift

A Castaway Club Silver gift? I like gifts! In reality, the most recent DCL Silver Castaway Club gift was a cheap sling bag that you receive Every. Single. Cruise. It is a nice gesture, but don’t be fooled into believing this is a big perk. You receive one gift per stateroom, not one gift per person.

F. Castaway Club Silver Lanyard

Does Disney Cruise give you a lanyard? It does if you are a Castaway Club member. If not, they are available for purchase.

The Castaway silver lanyard is exactly what it sounds, a silver lanyard to hold your Key to the World card. People sport their lanyards like badges on honor onboard. It is a convenient way to carry your card. If you don’t need to show off, so is your pocket.

Castaways Club Nemo's Reef

3. Disney Castaway Club Gold Benefits

How Many Disney Cruises Do You Need for Gold?

You are entitled to Gold Castaway Club benefits after you complete five cruises. Sailing four with a fifth booked is not enough.

What are the Gold Benefits?

Real Gold Benefits

A. Castaway Gold Member Early Booking

Disney Cruise Line prices are cheapest on opening day. Popular Disney Cruise Line sailings book up fast. Sometimes, popular itineraries (like Hawaii sailings), book up completely before they get to the general public. As the staterooms fill, the prices increase. Booking a little ahead of the general public won’t matter in most cases, but it could help you with the hottest ticket items.

Advanced Booking Window: Two days before the general public

B. Early Activity Booking

Castaway Club membership allows you to book onboard activities and shore excursions before the general public. Activities and shore excursions book up fast, but you can often find availability onboard. Shore excursions can often be booked with the shore excursion provider directly for less, so be sure to evaluate your options before booking with Disney directly.

Advanced Booking Window: 105 days prior to sailing (30 days before the general public)

C. Early Access to Port Arrival Times

Disney Gold Castaway Club members can select earlier port arrival times, which will get you on the ship sooner. This isn’t a huge perk, but time on the ship when it is less crowded is not a bad thing.

D. Onboard Disney Cruise Gold and Platinum Reception

The Castaway reception is a Disney Cruise Gold perk that offers finger food (which is included in your cruise fare anyway) and cocktails (enter the perk).

You can also mingle with Castaway Club members and (potentially) ship officers. I’m not a fan of talking to strangers, so this isn’t my bag. If you are into making small talk with people you will never see again, you will only be able to do so on sailings of eight nights or longer (which is almost no sailings). Again, a nice token, but it is not going to make or break your trip.

E. Onboard Castaway Club Gold Discounts

To reward you for throwing a bunch of money at Disney Cruise Line over the years, you are offered the opportunity to throw even more (although slightly less) money at them in the onboard stores. You can get ten percent off on select merchandise. This discount does not apply on Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island).

You can also often get onboard discounts with the Disney Visa regardless of status.

Silver Castaway Disney Cruise Toy STory

Fluff Disney Castaway Gold Benefits

A. Castaway Club Member Communications

Disney Cruise Line’s “periodic” emails to members are seemingly non existent. In fact, I don’t remember ever receiving one. If I did, it certainly didn’t have any lasting effect.

B. Dedicated Castaway Club Phone Line

Instead of calling into a dedicated phone number to wait on hold for hours to give Disney money, use a travel agent. The agent will likely kick you some onboard credit, and they can deal with the hassle for you.

C. Access to Castaway Club Website

This Disney Cruise Line website requires you to enter a Castaway Club login. Skip it. As of the time of this writing, you will find three recipes and some information about Castaway Club benefits. Google is a better option.

D. Exclusive Disney Cruise Castaway Club Gold Member Terminal Check In

Since Gold members can select earlier port arrival times anyway, they don’t really need a dedicated line to check in. In theory, the wait shouldn’t be that long in any line because port arrival times are staggered.

E. Welcome Castaway Club Gifts

The Disney Castaway Club Gold gift does not really improve when you are promoted from Silver Castaway member. Most recently, it was the same Castaway Club sling bag with a couple of luggage tags.

Again, the Disney Castaway Club gifts are one per stateroom, not one per person.

F. Gold DCL Lanyard

The gold lanyard holds your Key to the World card and is gold in color so you can make others onboard aware that you are better than them. Again, nice to have, but not necessary.

Castaway Club Rewards Woody

4. Castaway Club Platinum Benefits

How Many Disney Cruises Until Platinum?

You become Platinum after completing ten cruises. You must have already sailed. Having a tenth cruise booked is not enough.

What are the Platinum Benefits?

Real Disney Cruise Line Platinum Benefits

A. Castaway Club Early Booking

Castaway Club members get to book new cruises ahead of the general public as a Disney Cruise Line benefit. This is a benefit because it allows you to book hard to get sailings before they sell out. You will also get a cheaper price if you reserve your stateroom before Disney increases the fare as the ship fills.

Advanced Booking Window: Three days before the general public

B. Early Activity Booking

Castaway Club members get to book onboard activities and shore excursions before the general public. These activities book up fast online, but there is often availability onboard as well if you don’t get what you want the first time.

Shore excursions can often be booked independently for less, an option you should explore before booking through Disney directly.

Advanced Booking Window: 120 days prior to sailing (45 days before the general public)

C. Get on the Ship When You Feel Like It

Disney Cruise Platinum perks allow its members to roll onto the ship whenever they feel like it. No specific port arrival time required. Again, this isn’t a huge perk, but it is nice to have more time on a less crowded ship.

D. Disney Cruise Line Platinum Gift

The Castaway Club welcome back gift was promoted from the fluff benefit column for Platinum members because it is much higher quality. As of the time of this writing, you can choose from a fruit tray (skip it, they have fruit on the buffet for free), a box of truffles, or sparkling wine.

E. Gold and Platinum Castaway Club Onboard Reception

The Castaway Club reception with the ship’s crew, while nice, is only offered on sailings of eight nights or longer. These receptions feature finger food, which could likely be found elsewhere on the ship, and cocktails.

F. Disney Cruise Platinum Castaway Club Onboard Discounts

Disney Cruise Line knows you like to spend money on its products, so it would not miss the opportunity to encourage you to spend more. You get ten percent off select merchandise onboard, but no discount on Castaway Cay.

You can get similar discounts using a Disney Visa regardless of your Castaway Club Disney status.

G. Complimentary Dinner at Palo

Platinum Castaway Club perks include a free dinner at Palo, the adults only specialty restaurant onboard. Palo is bomb, but I prefer the brunch. If you go to Palo for dinner, you miss a night in the main dining room with your children, so it has never been something in which I was interested.

As of the time of this writing, Palo costs $40 per person.

Castaway Vacation Club Mickey

Fluff Platinum Castaway Benefits

A. Castaway Club Member Communications

Disney Cruise Line’s emails to members are periodic if you ask Disney, and non existent if you ask me. Even if they sent an email, it is unlikely it would contain anything you could not easily learn from a quick Google search.

B. Dedicated Castaway Club Phone Line

This is not a big perk for a Disney Cruise Platinum member. Skip the phone completely. Use a travel agent to get onboard credit and fewer headaches.

C. Access to Castaway Club Website

Nothing exciting happening here. You can log on to the website to view three recipes and information readily available elsewhere on the internet. The Disney Cruise Platinum level does not grant you better access than any other member.

D. Priority Disney Cruise Platinum Check In at the Terminal

Platinum members can roll on the ship whenever they want, so a dedicated line isn’t all that exciting. The line is even less enticing when you find out Disney Cruise Platinum boarding takes place after that of Concierge guests (people who spent more money but may not have any Castaway Club status).

E. Platinum Castaway Club Lanyard

The Castaway Club Platinum lanyard is black, but made from the same inexpensive material as the rest. You might use it, but you don’t need it.

Castaway Cay Club Level Peter Pan

5. Ways to Jump the Line to Disney Cruise Line Perks

A. Book Concierge

Money talks with Disney. If you are willing to throw enough money at it, it will prioritize you over its most loyal followers. For roughly double the price, you can book a Concierge level room.

Disney Cruise concierge perks include access to a lounge with food (which is already included in everyone’s fare). You also have the ability to cut in front of everyone else when boarding the ship and booking things like cabanas on Castaway Cay for the price of one black market kidney.

B. Disney Visa Cruise Perks

The Disney Visa is not a great credit card. It does not pay well. There are much better cards to use for travel. However, it does not hurt to get the no annual fee version to get some small Disney Cruise perks onboard, like those of the Platinum and Gold Castaway Club discounts.

Final Thoughts – DCL Castaway Club Levels

I love Disney Cruise Line. I am just underwhelmed by the Castaway Club program in relation to loyalty programs with other companies. The Disney Cruise loyalty program kicks you a few small perks, but it is not a program that should blow your mind.

Here’s the good news. You do not need to let the lack of a status deter you from cruising. Your Disney Cruise experience as a first timer will not be much different from that of anyone else. The difference in Castaway Club levels isn’t all that noticeable until you reach Platinum, and even then, not really.

If you are dying to be a Disney Cruise VIP, spring for Concierge (although I wouldn’t). Disney Cruise Line offers enough for everyone to do. Sail Disney Cruise Line with little kids. You will not regret it.

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Castaway Club Levels with Disney Cruise Line: Big Who Cares?

16 thoughts on “Castaway Club Levels with Disney Cruise Line: Big Who Cares?

  1. We had friends let us borrow their silver lanyards for our first Disney Cruise. It did make us feel more legit. lol. Good to know that we weren’t missing out on too many other things.

  2. Thank you for this information! We are huge on Disney World trips and would like to do a Disney Cruise when our children get a bit older. I have zero knowledge on their cruises, so thank you for this!

  3. I would love to go on a cruise of any kind some day, and of course – who doesn’t love Disney? So a Disney cruise would be high on my consideration list! This information is really helpful for one day, when I decide to book the trip. Thank you! ♡

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