Monday, April 11, 2011

Disney Cruise Line Announces New Ports and Itineraries

Last week was a big week for Disney Cruise fans. The long awaited itineraries for the second half of 2012 were announced for the Magic, Wonder, dream and Fantasy (entering service March 2012). There was a lot of discussion, argument, prediction prior to these announcements. Disney cruisers eagerly awaited in particular the news of where Disney's two classic ships, the Magic and Wonder would be docked next year. A lot of people were hoping for a lot a different places. Newspapers started leaking information, and there was very little surprise when the official announcement came out on Thursday April 7th. Here are the official itineraries, and my thoughts on what was announced. For exact dates and prices visit Disney Cruise Lines Official Website.

The Dream and The Fantasy stay in Port Canaveral:
This was the least surprising of all the announcements. The Dream will continue to do 3, 4 and 5 night Bahamian cruises, and the Fantasy - whose maiden voyage is set for March 31, 2012 - will do alternating 7 night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. Nothing special here. The Dream continues to be very popular, and I would expect the same from the Fantasy when it goes into service next year. These are the newest ships in the Disney fleet, with the newest technology, and bookings are great among first time Disney cruisers and Castaway Club members alike.

The Wonder stays West:
This is where it starts to get interesting. The Wonder, who has been doing Mexican Riviera cruises out of Los Angeles, and will make its first trips to Alaska from Vancouver this summer, will stay put on the West Coast with a couple changes.

In the Summer of 2012 the Wonder will return to Alaska, but the cruises will depart from Seattle, Washington..

in September the Wonder will return to LA with 4 special West Coast itineraries that will include stops in San Fransisco, San Diego, and Ensenada, Mexico. Afterwards it will resume Mexican Riviera cruises.

The big news for the Wonder was the announcement of a special April 29th, 15 night Hawaii cruise! This was the dream itinerary for many Disney cruisers. A lot of people were reading the tea leaves for a couple years after the announcement of the Wonder moving to Los Angeles, and the construction of the Disney Vacation Club property in Hawaii, Aulani. This seems to be booking very well despite the high cost, and major time commitment. The prices start at $1800 per person, so just for fun I requested a quote for our family. For the five of us in a Category 4C stateroom (the lowest category that will fit all of us), the cost was over $14,000!

I have to say that I am somewhat interested in the West Coast cruises, and would love to do the Hawaii cruise, but the late April sail date just can't work for us. Hopefully this is a test run for DCL, and they may make it a more common itinerary in the future!

The Magic Leaves Europe:
The biggest news, and most anticipation came from the announcements of the new Magic itineraries for post April 2012. This was also my biggest disappointment (more on that later), but it is great news for some.

In May the Magic will begin sailing 8 night Bahama cruises and 5 night Canada cruises out of New York. In addition they will have 3 special 2 night "cruises to nowhere" or introductory, weekend cruises. The 8 night Bahamian cruises will include a stop at Port Canaveral to allow passengers a day at Walt Disney World. A 1 day Park Hopper ticket and transportation between the port and the park (about a one hour drive) will be included in your cruise fare. In addition the ship will stop in Nassau, The Bahamas, and there will also be a stop at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island (paradise) in the Bahamas.

The 5 night Canadian cruise will start in June of 2012, and will hit Halifax, Nova Scotia and St. John, New Brunswick.

After the Magic finishes its time in the north east it will reposition to Galveston, Texas. Starting on September 22 the Magic will be making 7 night sailings to the Western Caribbean, making stops in Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico.

As I mentioned before the Magic announcement was a disappointment for me. I had thought (and heard) that Disney was planning on having an annual presence in Europe, and hearing that Disney would not be offering cruises in Europe in 2012 was surprising. My hope was that they would switch from Western Mediterranean cruises in 2010 and 2011, to Eastern Mediterranean in 2012. Since I will be living in Eastern Europe for the next two years, I was hoping to get to visit places like Venice, Turkey and Croatia my favorite way, on a Disney Cruise ship!

Besides my personal disappointment, I'm not sure that moving the Magic to New York and Texas makes the most sense. Sure, it extends your product to a new area, possibly opening it up to new people who would not travel to Florida to cruise, but I'm not exactly sure who that is. People from the New York and New Jersey area come down to Walt Disney World in droves. Many of them pair their Disney World vacation with a cruise. While not in as big of numbers, I'm sure the same can be said for Texans. Maybe Disney is trying to appeal to cruise fans, not just Disney fans who want to try a Disney Cruise... I think Lou Mongello on his WDW Radio podcast had the best opinion on it. He is of the opinion that these moves to new home ports are to re-invigorate interest in the older classic Disney ships.

The itineraries out of New York and Galveston are even more confusing to me. I have spent a lot of time on Disney message boards reading Disney cruiser wishes and opinions. there never seemed to be too much interest in Canadian cruises. I understand north easterners wanting their favorite cruise line to leave from their home, but Canada just doesn't stick with me. I actually like the 8 night Bahamas cruise itinerary, even though I have no interest in leaving out of New York for it. If I do another Bahamas cruise it will be on the Dream, to see the new ship. I would have liked to see a cruise to Bermuda from New York. That would have been something new. I do like the 2 night cruises. But that just isn't enough time to get a feel for a Disney Cruise.

The Galveston itineraries are especially hard to understand. Disney already has the Western Caribbean covered with the new Fantasy, and has been sailing there for years. Why have a second ship hitting the same ports from Galveston? Add to that the fact that they will not be visiting Castaway Cay, and I am stumped.

I think the big winner in these announcements is the Wonder. Overall I like the new itineraries on the west coast much better than anywhere else. I have always wanted to cruise to Alaska, and when I saw Disney was going there my interest became even higher. Leaving out of Seattle gives me a chance to visit some friends, and airfare is cheaper to Seattle compared to Vancouver. The special west coast cruises to San Francisco, San Diego and Ensenada sounds really cool to me. The Hawaii itinerary sounds like 15 nights of heaven on Earth! I could take or leave a Mexican Riviera itinerary, but with family out west, we are thinking of doing this cruise at some point.

What are your thoughts on the new itineraries? Are you excited or disappointed? are you planning on trying any of the new cruises?

1 comment:

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