Could Mickey Mouse be taking a cruise on a slow boat to China?

//Could Mickey Mouse be taking a cruise on a slow boat to China?

Karl Holz is a busy man. As president of Disney Cruise Line, he has just overseen the design, building and launch of two new cruise ships which have more than doubled the company’s passenger capacity.
Last year’s debutante, Disney Dream, exceeded all expectations as far as bookings are concerned. Sister ship Disney Fantasy, which set out on its maiden voyage on Saturday, promises to be just as popular among the travelling public.
As president of New Vacation Operations Karl is also in charge of the Aulani Resort and Spa in Hawai’i, and is responsible for developing the business at Adventures by Disney, which provides tailor-made guided tours at select destinations around the world.
It’s almost as if Peter Shanks, president of Cunard with its three ships, was also running Center Parcs. And Southampton FC for good measure. (My apologies in advance to Peter if Carnival boss Micky Arison reads this and gets him to do exactly that).
But back to Karl Holz. On board Fantasy last week he was enthusing about the destinations which his two new ships, plus the Classic ships Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, include in their itineraries.
To the Bahamas, Caribbean and soon Canada, sailing from Port Canaveral, Miami and New York. To Alaska and Hawai’i for the first time, as well as voyages along America’s west coast and Mexico. And also next year, after a short break, Disney Cruise Line will be back in Europe for an all-too-brief season.
I suggested to him that it almost sounded as if there still weren’t enough ships to go round, and that perhaps he should see if Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, would be prepared to invest in a fifth.
Unsurprisingly – given that there was a gap of more than a decade between the first Disney ships and the arrival of the Dream – he was reluctant to be rushed into giving even a hint of what might be planned.
It might be that he simply has enough on his plate at the moment. Another school of thought suggests that having built two Classic ships and two bigger Dream-class vessels, Disney would want another new design, which would take years of planning.
But why not get the Meyer-Werft yard in Germany to build a triplet? They have the plans, the experience, and after two or three years when they have finished building two Breakaway ships for Norwegian, and two Sunshine ships for Royal Caribbean, they will have room in their giant construction sheds on the River Ems.
Perhaps I’m being optimistic in thinking Disney would consider deploying a ship to spend more time in the Mediterranean and northern Europe.
A lot of their cruise bookings from British families combine a few days at sea with a week or so in the theme parks. It would be more difficult to package a cruise and stay at Disneyland Paris, which this weekend celebrated its 20th birthday. The park got off to a slow start, and is still a short-break destination rather than the all-immersive experience which Orlando provides so well.
German cruise passenger numbers are increasing fast, and could soon catch up with the UK, but they tend to prefer the casual party cruisess provided by AIDA, an altogether different atmosphere from Disney.
So perhaps we have to look further afield. To the East, maybe. Disneyland Tokyo was the first outside the USA. Disneyland Hong Kong is growing in popularity after a slow start, And construction is getting under way at a giant new resort and theme park near Shanghai, expected to open in 2015.
After all, when I was aboard Disney Dream last year, our departure from the private resort island of Castaway Cay was delayed while we waited the arrival of a helicopter carrying Disney’s President and Chief Operating Officer Bob Iger. He had attended the Port Canaveral naming ceremony where singer Jennifer Hudson christened the ship, but he had then had to dash off to have dinner at the White House. Among President Obama’s other guests that night was the Chinese prime minister.
Chop suey on the menu alongside the Mickey Mouse waffles and popcorn soup? I wouldn’t bet against it.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:51+00:00 2 April 2012|Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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