Disney CEO Confident on Cruise; New Ships Could Be Delayed

Disney Ship

Speaking on the company’s second-quarter earnings call, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek was bullish on the future of Disney Cruise Line but admitted cruises may be among the company’s last businesses to come back online.

“And in terms of the cruise ship business, we agree that that will probably be the last of our travel-oriented businesses to come back online,” Chapek said.

“Interestingly enough long term all of our data and our research shows that our guests will be just as interested in cruising with us long term. Obviously not in the next few months but much more resilient than any of the competitive businesses because of that love for Disney and assurance that they feel, that they trust our business to act in a responsible way to help to the extent possible protect them against some of the woes that have plagued the industry since COVID has hit.”

Disney Cruise Line operates four ships: the Magic, Wonder, Dream and Fantasy.

The brand has three more ships on order for introductions in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

The company is also anticipating delays to its newbuild schedule, according to an SEC filing.

“The company has credit facilities to finance three new cruise ships, which were to be delivered in 2021, 2022 and 2023 although delays are now expected as a result of the COVID-19 impact on the shipyard,” Disney stated.

Cruise lines eye reopening of private islands in the Bahamas

The Disney Dream at Castaway Cay.
The Disney Dream at Castaway Cay. Photo Credit: David Roark/Disney

With the passing of Hurricane Dorian, cruise lines were assessing, and gearing up to reopen, their private destinations in the Bahamas.

At Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay, the line said that it needed to evaluate the pier and ship channel before reopening the island to passengers. It also will clean up some landscaping and make minor repairs to the roof of one small covered pavilion area.

Holland America Line said its ships were to return to Half Moon Cay on Oct. 21 as scheduled, and Carnival Cruise Line will be back on the island Sept. 12. Holland America said there was minor beach erosion that will be cleaned up, but no structural damage. “The horses and stingrays are doing well,” it said.

Princess Cruises said initial reports “show only cosmetic damage and beach erosion” on  Princess Cays, its private destination on Eleuthera.

Norwegian Cruise Line said Thursday it was still assessing the situation at Great Stirrup Cay.

As reported previously, Royal Caribbean said it would reopen Perfect Day at CocoCay on Sept. 7, after survey teams decided it was feasible.

Disney Cruise Line’s fifth: Disney Wish

The Disney Wish's stern will feature Rapunzel.
The Disney Wish’s stern will feature Rapunzel.

Disney Cruise Line’s fifth ship will be called the Disney Wish. At its D23 Expo on Sunday, Disney revealed the name of the ship as well as renderings of its stern design and atrium.

Disney described the three-story atrium as “bright and airy, inspired by the beauty of an enchanted fairytale.”

The stern design features Rapunzel with a paintbrush in hand, suspended by her enchanted blond hair. Her sidekick chameleon, Pascal, holds the easel while Rapunzel paints.

“Spirited, smart, curious and — above all — adventurous, Rapunzel embodies the wish and desire to see and experience the world,” Disney said.

The Disney Wish is scheduled to enter service in January 2022.

The Disney Wish's three-story atrium will be inspired by an enchanted fairytale.
The Disney Wish’s three-story atrium will be inspired by an enchanted fairytale.

“There couldn’t be a better name for our incredible new ship because making wishes come true is part of the Disney DNA and is at the heart of so many of our cherished stories,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.

The Wish will be powered by liquefied natural gas. At approximately 144,000 gross tons and 1,250 guest staterooms, it will be slightly larger than the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.

Also at D23, Disney revealed new information about Lighthouse Point, its second private destination in the Bahamas, located on the island of Eleuthera.

Disney said Joe Rohde, whose work includes the design of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park in Orlando and the Aulani resort Hawaii, has taken a cultural tour of the Bahamas to meet with local artists and cultural experts.

“The Lighthouse Point site is so beautiful and so full of nature that we want to preserve this and use our designs to call attention to the extraordinary quality of the place itself — a place of natural beauty with a rich and fascinating cultural tradition,” Rohde said. “We will be directly involved in conservation efforts to preserve and protect the environment that creates this beauty, and we will be working with artists of every kind, much like we did with Aulani in Hawaii, to create a unique destination that is rooted in Bahamian culture and imbued with Disney magic.”

Disney said Lighthouse Point guests can look forward to an island experience that celebrates nature and the spirit and culture of the Bahamas.

Disney said Lighthouse Point guests can look forward to an island experience that celebrates nature and the spirit and culture of the Bahamas.

Disney Cruise Line completed its purchase of Lighthouse Point earlier this year, committing to develop less than 20% of the property and build an open-trestle pier that eliminates the need to dredge a ship channel.

Construction at Lighthouse Point will begin after an environmental impact assessment and environmental management plan are reviewed and accepted by the government of the Bahamas, Disney said. The company said construction could begin in 2020 with completion in late 2022 or 2023.