From the moment it operated its first cruises back in 1998, Disney Cruise Line has managed to capture the imagination of cruisers young and old alike. With its innovative and classically-designed ships that are styled to look like a modern take on the grand ocean liners of yesteryear, Disney Cruise Line offers a whimsical, active onboard environment that is perfect for kids, while remaining mindful of what adults look for in a cruise vacation. They are, after all, footing the bill.
If Disney has had one problem in its two decade history, it is that demand has outstripped supply. Most Disney sailings leave completely full, and the line's four-ship fleet doesn't have a lot of flexibility to explore new destinations and ports of call without leaving the Bahamas and the Caribbean – the bread-and-butter of year-round cruising from the line's dedicated terminal in Port Canaveral, Florida.
That's poised to change in the next few years. Disney recently announced plans for three brand-new ships that will join the fleet between 2021 and 2023, bringing the line's total number of vessels to seven. These include Disney's first two ships, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, which debuted in 1998 and 1999 respectively; and Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.
Larger and more elaborate than their predecessors, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy burst onto the scene in 2011 and 2012. Both vessels are homeported in the Bahamas and the Caribbean, while Disney Magic makes her summer home in Europe, and Disney Wonder heads for the emerald waters of Alaska.
Besides being noteworthy on their own merits, the addition of three new ships to the fleet raises some tantalizing itinerary possibilities. What do we know about these new Disney cruise ships, though?
At the moment, not a lot.
While Disney hasn't released the names, itineraries, or any features of these brand-new vessels, the line has released a handful of hard facts.
To start with, each of these three new ships will be only slightly larger than Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. The latter clock in at 130,000 gross tons apiece; Disney's three new vessels will be 135,000 gross tons each.
Each ship will have 1,250 guest staterooms, which is about on-par with Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. The big news here is that they will be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) propulsion – a clean-burning fuel that has been used for several years now on ferries in places like Norway, and which is becoming more and more common on cruise ships on-order.
That's all we know for sure right now. But we can make some educated guesses.
One of Disney Cruise Line's greatest strengths is that it has resisted the urge to say, "Me too!" and follow the rest of the cruise industry. Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy introduced a number of enhancements and cool new features over their predecessors, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, but they did it in a way that was on-brand and fit with the overall theme of Disney's ships. Disney's ships have a distinct lack of gimmicky doodads, preferring instead to focus on quality innovations like the AquaDuck, unmatched onboard performances and special events, and nifty touches like the line's pioneering rotational dining, where your servers move with you as you rotate through the ship's multiple dining venues on each voyage.
It's a fairly safe bet to assume this new trio will boast a grand, ocean liner-esque design like the rest of the Disney fleet. Staterooms and suites will be well-suited for families, and the onboard children's facilities will be superb. Adults will be delighted by classy bars and lounges, while dining options will raise the bar on what is possible aboard a family-friendly ship (just look at the runaway success of the super-luxe Remy aboard Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy to see what we mean).
What we don't know, however, is what cool new features Disney has up its sleeve for these three new ships. And Disney, the master of suspense, certainly knows how to play to its audience. Expect more fun snippets and reveals as we get closer to the 2021 launch date of the first of these three new ships.
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