Captain Minnie stands aboard Disney’s newest cruise ship, The Wish.
It’s been a decade since then Disney It expanded its cruise fleet. Its latest addition, due to launch in two weeks, is a 1,119-foot floating amusement park.
Disney Wish is one of more than 30 ships from a variety of leaders in the cruise space expected to debut before the end of 2022, and dozens are set to join the seas through 2027.
The fifth addition to the company’s fleet of cruise ships, The Wish is scheduled to make its maiden voyage from Port Canaveral, Florida, to Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, on July 14.
The Wish navigates a time of transition and recovery for the cruise industry, which has been hit by the pandemic and health restrictions. In addition to headwinds from guests, who have been slow to return for vacation at sea, the industry is now facing economic pressures from rising fuel costs And the inflation.
Disney is betting that franchises like Marvel and “Frozen,” as well as innovative courses on classic cruise experiences, will lure travelers back to the high seas.
In addition to the typical Disney bonanza on donuts and sweet apples, Wish’s Star Wars-inspired Hyperspace Lounge boasts a $5,000 Kaiburr Crystal brew served in a camtono, a container often used by bounty hunters in the space opera franchise. It’s unclear what’s in the drink, but it became one of Wish’s most talked about aspects after members of the media got a test ride of the vessel this week.
Other less expensive experiences include a “Frozen” musical dinner and a Marvel dining experience. The ship also has Disney’s first attraction on board, the AquaMouse.
While overall passenger numbers are set to surpass pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023, the cruise industry has never had the same pricing power as other travel and hospitality sectors, leading some analysts to raise concerns about the potential for business recovery in the short term. . . In particular, as rival brands like Carnival are saddled with three times the debt they had before the pandemic.
Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure is Disney’s first “Frozen” themed theatrical dining experience, bringing the Kingdom of Arendelle to life with immersive live entertainment – featuring favorite characters like Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf – and world-class cuisine Infused with Nordic effects.
Disney | Matt Strochan
“Going back to this financial situation where you can play offense instead and play defense or be in survival mode, it’s just a longer climb,” said David Katz, an analyst at Jefferies.
Royal Caribbean stock is down about 61% compared to the same period last year and Carnival stock is down about 68%.
Disney has more wiggle room because its business is generally more diverse. The company operates a media empire as well as hotels, theme parks and cruises.
Disney does not separate its cruise business when reporting earnings. Instead, it is encapsulated in the Gardens, Experiences and Products segment, Revenue more than doubled to $6.7 billion in the second fiscal quartercompared to the previous year period. For comparison, this segment generated $6.2 billion during the same quarter of 2019.
Disney shares are down about 66% compared to the same period last year.
Katz, who only covers carnival, said cruise companies are running against the hotel business. Meaning cruises will discount tickets the closer they get to the ship’s launch in order to reach capacity. For hotels, prices usually rise as the booking date approaches.
“This recovery was not like any other recovery anyone else has seen,” he said. He added that the price does not usually drive the desire of travelers to go on cruises, so the discount may not increase the number of customers.
However, people are cutting back on the number of days they spend on a cruise due to the higher costs.
Disney’s Wish has three-night cruises starting at $1,750 for two guests and four-night cruises starting at $2,250. These prices increase if travelers choose cruises linked to Halloween or Christmas. Disney is a bit more expensive than Carnival and Royal Caribbean for base prices, but if guests choose to upgrade to larger cabins or add dining or experiences packages to their itineraries, the prices are quite similar.
About 80% of travelers who have cruised before say they will cruise again, the same percentage as before the pandemic, according to data from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a global trade group for the cruise industry.
CLIA expects 2022 to be a transitional year for the cruise industry and 2023 to be when full recovery occurs. It also expects passenger volumes to recover more than 12% above 2019 levels by the end of 2026.
For Josh D’Amaro, president of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, there’s no reason to worry that the cruise industry will make a comeback.
“Could the road be a little bumpy in the short term? Yes,” he said. “But, do I know where the destination is? Sure. I’m very confident about that.”
The decision to add more ships to Disney’s fleet came five years ago, before Damaro took over as department head. The expansion includes The Wish and two other ships that have yet to be named, but are scheduled to premiere in 2024 and 2025.
While the average production cost of a cruise ship is about $617 million, according to CLIA, the cost of large ships like Disney’s Wish is estimated at nearly $1 billion. Disney declined to say how much it has invested in its new fleet additions.
“I think Desire will be another one of those beacons that call out to the world and remind them that sailing is a special thing to do with your family,” said Damaro. “We are very optimistic about that.”
Despite the traditional onboard Wish amenities that are a staple of cruise lines — upscale restaurants, pools, spas and playrooms for kids — Disney has incorporated storytelling into these services to elevate the company to its “magic” “.
The Wish, led by Minnie Mouse, offers an array of theatrical dining experiences, Broadway-style theatrical productions and Disney’s first-ever attraction at sea.
“With Wish we had the opportunity to think, ‘What are the things we can do that could be new and different and a priority? “And there is a long list,” said Damaru.
The 144,000-ton ship has more than 1,500 crew members on board, 75% of whom served on a former cruise ship, and has a capacity of 4,000 passengers.
“The ship is fantastic. But it’s our crew that will bring the ship to life,” said Sharon Cesky, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Cruise Line.
Marvel, Star Wars, and “Frozen” are ports of call aboard Wish, serving as dining destinations and themed play areas for children and adults alike.
While the cruise industry’s recovery has been slower than other leisure industries, Siskie said the offerings onboard Wish “will help remind people that sailing is a great experience.”
Like Disney’s newest immersive hotel, the Galactic Starcruiser in Florida, Disney Wish Interactive and immersive storytelling in many of its restaurants.
The dining experience based on “Frozen” is essentially a theater on tour, with tables rather than stadium seating. The dinner is a celebration of Anna and Kristoff’s engagement and features singing and dancing from the duo along with Elsa, Olaf and Okin. The menu is inspired by Scandinavian cuisine.
Worlds of Marvel is Marvel’s first cinematic dining adventure, where guests interactively role-play the action-packed Avengers mission that unfolds around them, with a global menu inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Disney | Amy Smith
The cinematic dining adventure in Worlds of Marvel brings guests to the Avengers mission centered on Ant-Man and the Wasp, who introduces diners to the latest Pym technology. Quantum Core has allowed things to shrink and grow, but the show doesn’t go according to plan and an unexpected villain arrives to steal the technology.
Ant-Man and The Wasp team up with other Avengers like Captain American and Captain Marvel to stop them.
For Star Wars fans of legal age, Disney’s Wish has the Hyperspace Lounge, an upscale bar designed to replicate Dryden Vos’ luxury yacht-class spaceship in “Solo.”
For the first time aboard a Disney ship, guests take a space-hopping tour of the Star Wars galaxy at Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge, an upscale bar modeled on a luxury yacht-class spaceship on board Disney Wish.
Disney | Amy Smith
Here, guests are served signature drinks inspired by destinations in the Star Wars universe, including the jungle planet Patu, the desert planet Tatooine, and the lava planet Mostafar – also known as the home of Darth Vader. As they sip cocktails and sample the tasting menu, the ships outside the viewing port can be seen jumping to the speed of light.
There are two funnels on Disney Wish, one that works and one that is “aesthetically interesting,” Siskie said.
On that second path is the Wish Tower Suite, the first suite located in a cruise ship funnel path. The two-story penthouse measures approximately 2,000 square feet and seats eight guests and is Moana-inspired.
The Wish Tower Suite is the first accommodation of its kind located elevated in the ship’s forward funnel course. This 1966-square-foot penthouse in the sky sleeps eight guests and features an elegant design inspired by Disney Animation’s “Moana,” unparalleled ocean views and excellent Disney service.
“The Wish Tower Suite really provides a great example of what makes Disney different in this space,” Siskie said.
Another first for Disney is the AquaMouse, which at first glance appears to be just another waterslide, but is actually a full water attraction.
The 760-foot ride features lighting, sound, and water effects, including video screens showing off new Mickey Mouse shorts, before transforming into a traditional waterslide. Gravity wraps around the upper deck and takes about two minutes to travel.
In addition to the AquaMouse, there are six swimming pools nested among the many terraced floors.
“We know we have something very powerful here,” D’Amaro said.
Guests immerse themselves in animated “The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse” shorts aboard Disney’s first at sea attraction, AquaMouse. Complete with show scenes, lighting, special effects, and great surprises, this wild water ride is sure to delight everyone in the family as it meanders, zigzags, and winds through 760 feet of zigzag tubes suspended high above the upper floors.
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