Disney Cruise Line to sail from New York, Galveston, Seattle in 2012

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

The Disney Cruise Line will sail from three new home ports in 2012, moving the Disney Magic from Port Canaveral to New York and then Galveston, Texas, and shifting the Disney Wonder’s home port for its second season of Alaska cruises from Vancouver to Seattle. The entire 2012 season opens for booking on April 7 for Gold and Platinum Castaway Club members and April 8 for Silver Castaway Club members and the general public.

Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz announced the new voyages yesterday at a press conference at The Lighthouse Restaurant on Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers. While most of the news had already leaked to the Internet on Monday, this was official confirmation of the news. Holz jokingly made note of the situation, stressing that the information had been kept as a “Top Secret.” Captain Mickey Mouse then brought out an large blue envelope marked “Top Secret,” which Holz then opened and read the news that Disney Cruise Line was coming to New York. The Magic will be sailing three different itineraries from New York: eight-night Bahamas cruises, five-night Canadian Maritimes cruises (dubbed “New England/Canada” even though there are no stops in New England), and two-night cruises to nowhere.

George Fertita, president of NYC and Co., New York City’s tourism bureau, and Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Commission, both spoke of the benefits to New York that the Disney Cruise Line would bring. Afterward, Holz quickly announced the Galveston and Seattle information, and the event soon ended. While no mention was made of a couple of additional itineraries, press materials handed out at departure included information about a 15-night roundtrip cruise to Hawai’i and seven-night Pacific Coast cruises to San Francisco, San Diego, and Ensenada, Mexico—both out of the Port of Los Angeles.

While the Disney Fantasy will sail its maiden voyage from Port Canaveral on March 31, 2012, the Disney Magic will not move to New York until May, meaning that there will be a month and a half where there will be three Disney Cruise Line ships departing from Port Canaveral. “There’s a period of time where there is a transition […] there will be a short period of time where you’ll have three ships in Port Canaveral,” Holz confirmed.

The Magic will move to New York in mid-May, launching its stay there with an eight-night Bahamas cruise on May 25. Here’s a closer look at the Magic’s itinerary:

Eight-night Bahamas cruises will depart from New York on May 25; June 2, 22, and 30; July 20 and 28; and August 17 and 25. Guests will have two days at sea as the ship makes its way south, followed by its first port of call, Nassau, Bahamas, on Day 4. The next day, the ship will dock at Castaway Cay, followed by a Day 6 stop at Port Canaveral. When the ship stops at Port Canaveral, guests will be provided with complimentary bus transportation and a complimentary one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper pass. Guests will then enjoy two more days at sea before returning to New York. The price for this itinerary starts at $1,240 per person, double occupancy, for a standard inside stateroom.

The Magic’s five-night itinerary departs from New York on June 10 and 17; July 8 and 15; August 5 and 12; and September 2, 7, and 12. The September 12 sailing will be the Magic’s last departure before heading south to Galveston. Guests will enjoy a day at sea, followed by consecutive stops at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and St. John, New Brunswick, with one more day at sea on the way back to New York. Prices for these cruises start at $715 per person, double occupancy, for a standard inside bedroom.

Two-night weekend cruises depart on June 15, July 13, and August 10. Rates start at $370 per person, double occupancy, for a standard inside stateroom.

Asked about the possibility of a link between New York sailings and New York-based Adventures By Disney itineraries, Holz told MousePlanet that “What we try to do in some of our destinations is to offer pre- and post-experiences. We don’t do it in every single one and quite frankly, we’re in the beginning stages of that planning. Today we offer pre- and post- in Vancouver and we also do it in Barcelona. So whether we do it in New York is something that we’re exploring.”

When the Magic returns from its last Canadian itinerary on September 17, it will then leave for Galveston, arriving on September 22. The ship will then sail 12 seven-night cruises from that port on September 22 and 29; October 6, 13, 20, and 27; November 3, 10, 17, and 24; and December 1 and 8. This leaves the Magic with an undetermined itinerary from December 15 through the end of the year. We’ll have to wait to see what future press releases tell us about. Guests on this Western Caribbean will start with two days at sea, followed by stops at Grand Cayman, Caymen Islands; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel, Mexico, before a final day at sea and the return to Galveston. Cost for this itinerary starts at $840 per person, double occupancy, for a standard inside stateroom.

“Our growth strategy has always been to take the Disney Cruise Line experience to ports beyond Port Canaveral, and so New York and Texas were two ideal destinations to home-port from for our guests to embark and debark when the cruise is finished,” said Holz. “So New York City—and so many of our guests already coming from New York and the Northeast—made a great deal of sense. And when it gets to Texas, I mean, Galveston is a successful cruise port, but access to the rest of Texas on a drive basis? It just makes a lot of sense.”

On the West Coast, the Disney Wonder will continue sailing seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises for most of the year, as it has been so far this year. A one-time 15-night cruise to Hawai’I will depart on April 29, with stops in Hilo; Kahului, Maui; Honolulu, Oahu; Kauai; and Ensenada, Mexico. This is a test to gauge interest in this type of cruise for future years. Rates for this cruise start at $1,800 per person, double occupancy, for a standard inside stateroom.

“We’re excited about this first Hawai’i cruise,” Holz told MousePlanet, “but […] we’re exploring what are the opportunities to have some sort of a connection with Aulani, The nature of cruising in Hawai’i is that you spend a day in each of the individual ports. But that is something that we’re really looking forward to and we know that many of our guests have an expectation of some sort of a link. So more to come on that front.”

When the Wonder returns from Hawai’I, it will sail one more Mexican voyage (on May 14), before setting sail on a repositioning cruise on May 21 to the Port of Seattle. Once there, the Wonder will sail 14 seven-night voyages to Alaska from Seattle, with a day at sea on the way north before stops at Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. The ship will stop in Victoria, British Columbia, on its way back to Seattle. These sailings depart on May 28; June 4, 11, 18, and 25;  July 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30; August 6, 13, 20, and 27. Prices start at $917 per person, double occupancy, for a standard inside stateroom. The Wonder will reposition back to the Port of Los Angeles on September 3.

“The Wonder goes to Vancouver this summer for the first time, and what we announced today, in 2012 is the Wonder will be sailing out of Seattle,” Holz said. “When you think about Seattle and you think about Vancouver, two great cities. Fantastic cities. And this will give our guests—and ourselves —an opportunity to understand what do our guests prefer? What makes sense? And for the long term, we will see.”

Once back in Los Angeles, the Wonder will likely take a single Mexican Riviera cruise before it takes on four cruises on another new itinerary, a seven-night Pacific Coast cruise departing on September 16, 23, and 30; and October 7. The ship will first go north to San Francisco, then south to San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico. Rates for the new Pacific Coast cruise start at $770 per person, double occupancy, for a standard inside stateroom.

The seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises start at $707 per person, double occupancy, for a standard inside stateroom.

Back in Port Canaveral, the Disney Fantasy will sail alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. The Eastern itinerary includes stops at St. Maarten, Virgin Islands; St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; and Castaway Cay, while the Western itinerary features Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay. Special sailings in November and December, 2012 replace St. Maarten with San Juan, Puerto Rico. Rates for the seven-night itineraries start at $959 per person, double occupancy, in a standard inside stateroom.

The Disney Dream will continue its three-, four- and five-night Bahamian cruises, featuring stops at Nassau and Castaway Cay. The four-night itinerary also includes a day at sea, while the five-night itinerary adds a second stop at Castaway Cay. These itineraries start at $471 per person, double occupancy, in a standard inside stateroom.

The Disney Magic will sail a combination of seven-night Caribbean itineraries and four- and five-night Bahamian cruises until it repositions to New York.

The increased level of ship activity at Port Canaveral during the transition period, as well as the additional dockings as part of the New York-based itineraries, will probably help to make it up to Port Canaveral for the years where Disney ships made fewer sailings from the port due to Mediterranean and West Coast sailings.

So the Disney Cruise Line will have three new home ports in 2012; will abandon (at least for the year) Barcelona and Vancouver; and will add a number of new destinations, itineraries, and cruise lengths. What do you think? Does this excite you? Are you unimpressed? Is there a different home port, destination port, or itinerary that you had been hoping for? Let us know in the comments below!