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Disney Cruise Ship Heads to Florida: Will It Be The First to Sail?

Bruce Parkinson

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Which Disney Cruise Line ship will be the first to sail? So far, Disney isn’t saying, but a clue comes in the form of Disney Wonder, which as of the morning of November 19 was approximately 3,700 miles east of Port Canaveral and heading for the Florida coast.

disney wonder hawaii

Disney Wonder off the coast of Hawaii (Photo courtesy of Kent Phillips/Disney Cruise Line)

The 1999-built, 2,700-passenger ship left its three Disney sisters behind at a shipyard in Brest, France, before a brief technical stop in Funchal, Portugal for fuel and supplies. It was an inaugural call for Wonder at the port, but there were no passengers aboard and none of the 200-plus crew onboard left the ship.

Disney Cruise Line recently canceled the remainder of 2020 scheduled sailings. Disney Wonder is next scheduled to sail on January 6, 2020, on a six-night Western Caribbean cruise from Galveston. That won’t happen either, as the line, along with all operators hoping to depart from U.S. ports, has substantial work to do before resuming sailings with paying passengers.

During a Walt Disney Company earnings call last week, CEO Bob Chapek offered no dates for resumption of sailing. Along with its competitors, Disney Cruise Line has hurdles to overcome in order to meet strict requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designed to ensure a safe return to the waters.

disney wonder atrium

The three-story atrium on Disney Wonder (Photo courtesy of Matt Stroshane/Disney Cruise Line)

Those requirements include trial cruises designed to test the efficacy of new onboard health and safety measures. Passengers onboard during the trial sailings will be made up of company employees and consumer volunteers over 18 years of age. Each ship will also have to be recertified by the CDC before relaunching revenue cruises.

While Royal Caribbean has put out a call for test cruise volunteers from the public — and received over 100,000 applications in less than a week — Disney Cruise Line has yet to follow suit.

As one of two smaller ships in Disney’s four-ship fleet along with sister Disney Magic, Disney Wonder could be easier to prepare for test sailings. The other two ships in the fleet, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, can each accommodate up to 4,000 guests. 

disney fantasy exterior

The larger Disney Fantasy (Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line)

The line also has three ships on order for its new Triton Class, which will carry even more passengers. The first, Disney Wish, is scheduled to arrive in summer 2022, followed by two as-yet-unnamed vessels in 2024 and 2025.

While no details have yet been released on Disney Cruise Line’s trial cruises, it is likely that they will make use of Castaway Cay, the line’s private island in the Bahamas. 

Bruce Parkinson has written about cruising and the broader international travel industry for more than 25 years.

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