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Disney Wish cruise ship’s debut delayed by COVID-19 issues at shipyard

  • October 22, 2020

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – Disney Cruise Line says the debut of its much-anticipated new cruise ship, the Disney Wish, will be pushed back until the summer of 2022 because of construction delays at the Meyer-Werft shipyard in Germany caused by the coronavirus pandemic.            

The Wish is expected to sail from Port Canaveral, although Disney has not officially announced the ship’s home-port or itineraries.

Disney originally planned to introduce the Wish to cruise passengers in early 2022.

The Disney Wish will be powered by liquified natural gas. At about 144,000 gross tons and with 1,250 guest staterooms, the ship will be slightly larger than the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, which currently are based at Port Canaveral.

Disney Cruise Line said the three-story atrium of the Disney Wish will be a bright, airy and elegant space inspired by the beauty of an enchanted fairy tale.

Disney and other cruise lines have been shut down in the United States since mid-March because of a coronavirus-related no-sail order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That order is scheduled to expire Oct. 31, but could be extended. The CDC’s previous orders have been extended three times — in April, July and September.

Scott Sanders, founder and operator of the Disney Cruise Line Blog — which is not affiliated with the cruise line — said he believes the company’s announcement about delaying the debut of the Wish was “a foregone conclusion,” considering all the coronavirus-related impacts on the cruise and shipbuilding industries.

Sanders also noted that Disney has not released many details about the ship, such as its entertainment and dining amenities, or how the Wish will be different from the four ships currently in the Disney fleet.

The Disney Wish’s stern will feature Rapunzel. Paintbrush in hand, Rapunzel uses her enchanted hair to suspend herself as she decorates the stern of the ship with the help of her  sidekick, Pascal. It has been a tradition to adorn the back of Disney ships with an iconic character that reflects the theme of each vessel.

He said those are things many potential passengers would like to know before booking a cruise.

“We really don’t know anything about the ship,” Sanders said. “The details have to start coming out sooner, rather than later.”

Sanders said Disney is likely to announce its summer 2022 itineraries sometime between February and April 2021, and that announcement should have details about the Wish’s itineraries, unless there are additional delays in the ship’s debut. He said more details about the ship itself are likely to come out before then.

Carnival ship delay

Disney’s announcement follows the recent announcement by Carnival Cruise Line that it was delaying the debut of its newest and largest ship, the Mardi Gras, at Port Canaveral by nearly three months because of delays in construction of the ship related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mardi Gras now will begin service from Port Canaveral on Feb. 6. Scheduled sailings of the Mardi Gras out of Port Canaveral from Nov. 14 through Jan. 30 have been canceled.

The Mardi Gras will be the first cruise ship that will operate in the Western Hemisphere to be powered by liquefied natural gas. It will be the largest ship in the Carnival fleet — with a maximum passenger count of 6,630 and a length of 1,130 feet — and will feature the first roller coaster at sea.

The Mardi Gras is under construction at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland. 

Port cruises remains idled

Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray said Port Canaveral is anxiously awaiting the lifting of the CDC no-sail order, adding that “it’s past time” for that to happen.

“We’re here, we’re ready, and we have six terminals ready to go on Day 1 … as soon as we get the green light,” Murray said in a video statement released to the news media. That includes the new Cruise Terminal 3, which was completed in June, but has been unused by cruise passengers because of the no-sail order.

“It’s been a very, very dry period at Port Canaveral without any cruise ships alongside” the terminals.

“As soon as we get the word to start, we’re ready to start,” Murray said.

Murray said the cruise shutdown has created “a very difficult time,” not only for the port and cruise staffs, but also for suppliers and local hotels, restaurants, ground-transportation providers and other businesses that depend on the cruise industry for revenue.

“It’s been a very, very difficult time, and it’s been a huge strain on our local community,” Murray said.

Like other major cruise ports, Port Canaveral has lost much of its revenue because of the cruise industry shutdown.

Pre-coronavirus, Port Canaveral was expecting 77.6% of its revenue for the 2019-20 budget year that Sept. 30 to come from cruise-related business, including parking revenue from cruise passengers.

Port Canaveral was the world’s second-busiest cruise port in terms of passenger volume, trailing only PortMiami.

Four major cruise lines have ships based at Port Canaveral — Carnival, Disney, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.

Disney early-2022 schedule

In addition to its announcement about the delay in starting cruises aboard the Wish, Disney announced its cruise ship itineraries for early 2022.

The schedule shows the Dream and Fantasy remaining at Port Canaveral, and the Disney Magic sailing from PortMiami. Every Disney cruise from Florida in early 2022 will include a visit to Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.

The Disney Fantasy begins 2022 with a six-night Western Caribbean cruise, followed by seven-night voyages to a variety of destinations in the Eastern and Western Caribbean. It will have Saturday departures.

The Disney Dream will sail from Port Canaveral on three- and four-night Bahamian cruises to Nassau and Castaway Cay. It will have Friday and Monday departures.

The Disney Magic will sail from Miami on four- and five-night Bahamian cruises and five-night Western Caribbean cruises, with one three-night sailing to Castaway Cay and Key West.

Disney’s fourth ship, the Disney Wonder will have a variety of sailings and home-ports in early 2022.

The Wonder will have Western Caribbean itineraries early in 2022, first from Galveston, Texas, with four-night itineraries, followed by four- and six-night voyages from New Orleans. A six-night Bahamian voyage offered from both Galveston and New Orleans will give passengers the opportunity to visit Castaway Cay, in addition to Key West.

The Wonder then will have a 14-night repositioning cruise from New Orleans to San Diego, via the Panama Canal, with a March 4, 2022, departure.

The Disney Wonder will sail from San Diego in March and April, with cruises to Baja, Mexico, offering two-, four- and five-night options.

The Wonder then will have a five-night repositioning cruise from San Diego to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with an April 21, 2022, departure.

The Wonder will have a 10-night cruise starting April 26, 2022, from Vancouver to Honolulu, followed by a 10-night return sailing from Honolulu to Vancouver starting May 6, 2022. 

The Disney Dream and Fantasy each have 1,250 staterooms, a passenger capacity of 4,000, a crew of 1,400 and weigh 130,000 tons. The Dream debuted in 2011 and the Fantasy debuted in 2012.

The Disney Magic and Wonder each have a passenger capacity of 2,700, a crew of 950 and weigh 84,000 tons. The Magic has 877 staterooms, and the Wonder has 875. The Magic debuted in 1998 and the Wonder debuted in 1999.

Dave Berman is government editor at FLORIDA TODAY. 

Contact Berman at 321-242-3649 or dberman@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @bydaveberman

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