Disney Cruise Line Resumes US Cruises, But Delays Weekly Trips
Disney Cruise Line has joined the industry in restarting its North American cruise operations, but unlike others lines the company has decided to delay its planned longer, weekly cruises. In an announcement to the trade on August 16, Disney said it was canceling cruises lasting 7-days in length planned for the coming weeks.
“As we continue to resume sailings in a gradual, phased approach, it is necessary for us to cancel the September 4, 2021, Disney Fantasy sailing,” the company wrote saying it was delaying the vessel’s restart to September 11. “During this initial phase, the Disney Fantasy will only visit Disney Castaway Cay, our private island in The Bahamas. We hope to resume 7-night voyages or longer onboard the Disney Fantasy in October.”
Disney resumed operations after the pause due to the pandemic with its first cruise ship, the Disney Magic, sailing short UK-domestic cruises. The ship is offered UK “Staycation” trips from the UK ports of Southampton, Tilbury, and Newcastle ranging between two and four nights. Those cruises continue till the fall and the vessel is scheduled to reposition to Miami in November 2021.
In the US, since Disney is a family-focused cruise line, the company elected to go the certification route with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so that it is could accept children who currently ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. The Disney Dream cruise ship operated her simulated voyage in mid-July and received permission from the CDC to begin restricted cruise operations. The second cruise ship, the Disney Fantasy completed her simulated voyage last weekend with Disney employees as the volunteer passengers. The vessel is awaiting permission to start restricted voyages.
The Disney Dream started the U.S. cruises on August 9 offering 3- and 4-night cruises from Port Canaveral to Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. The next ship, the Disney Fantasy was scheduled to operate 7-night cruises from Port Canaveral, replaced for the time being with cruises that will only visit Disney Castaway Cay, the private island in The Bahamas.
“Our focus remains on operating our ships in a responsible way that continues to create magic for all on board,” says Disney on its website. “We are resuming sailing in a gradual, phased approach that emphasizes multiple layers of health and safety measures, developed in consideration of guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other medical experts.”
The cruise line did not give a reason for the decision to limit the ship to short cruises after announcing the plans for the weekly cruises. By visiting on its private island, the cruise line can better maintain the social bubble for passengers but it was not clear if there were concerns with other destinations. Other cruise lines resuming trips from the United States are offering week-long cruises, but under the CDC framework, cruise ships are currently prohibited from multi-week and longer cruises.