Disney Cruise Line is a cruise line operation that is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The company was incorporated in 1996 as Magical Cruise Company Limited and is domiciled in London, England, with their operational headquarters located in Celebration, Florida.

Disney Cruise Line currently operates four ships: Disney MagicDisney WonderDisney Dream, and Disney Fantasy. Three as-yet-unnamed ships will join the fleet in 2021, 2022, and 2023. Disney Cruise Line also owns Castaway Cay, a private island in the Bahamas designed as an exclusive port of call for Disney’s ships. Disney Cruise Line operates the Disney Cruise Line Terminal in Port Canaveral, Florida.

In 2018, Disney Cruise Lines had 2.3 percent of the worldwide cruise market by passenger and 2.2 percent by revenue. In 2015, Disney Cruise Lines had 2.8 percent of the worldwide cruise market by passenger and 2.4 percent by revenue, while in 2011, the company held a 1.95 percent market share.

The line pioneered the rotational dining concept, in which guest would rotate with their wait staff through three different main dining rooms.


When Disney’s negotiations with two major cruise lines, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, did not produce results, Disney had cruise ship designs drawn up by February 1994. Meanwhile, Walt Disney Travel Company started signing up other cruise lines to offer packages that included Disney hotels and resorts. On May 3, 1994, Disney announced that they intended to start their own cruise line with operations starting in 1998. Arthur Rodney was selected to serve as the first president of the cruise line tentatively called Disney Vacation Cruises. Disney Cruise Line in 1995 commissioned Disney Magic and Disney Wonder from Fincantieri in Italy. The cruise line was incorporated as Devonson Cruise Company, Limited on February 6, 1996, in the United Kingdom, but soon was renamed Magical Cruise Company Limited on October 1, 1996. The cruise line cost as much as a theme park to start up. In 1996, Magical Cruise Company purchased Gorda Cay as the line’s private island. The company spent $25 million over 18 months on the island and renamed it Castaway Cay.

The Disney Magic’s first cruise was postponed twice which was originally scheduled for March 1998 while the Disney Wonder was scheduled for December 1998. On July 30, 1998, with the first voyage of Magic, the Disney Cruise Line was operational. Also, a 10-year contract was signed with Port Canaveral for its home terminal. With the August 31, 1999, resignation of Rodney as cruise line president, senior operating officer Matt Ouimet was named as his replacement in July. By 2002, the line added seven-day cruises and western Caribbean cruises.

In June 2005, Disney Magic moved its port for the summer cruise season to the Port of Los Angeles. This was temporary for the company’s 50th-anniversary celebration of Disneyland and as a test for California expansion. The transfer cruise sold out quicker than expected. Bookings from first time Disney cruisers were up for these cruises by at least 60%. While Disney has wanted additional ships, shipbuilding cost have increased by at least 33% since it built its first two ships. A ship was transferred to the Mediterranean for an extended stay in 2007. In 2007, Disney announced the building of two new cruise ships. Disney Dreamset sail in Jan 2011, followed closely by Disney Fantasy in 2012. Meyer Werft shipyard, based in Papenburg, Germany, built the new ships. In February 2009, Tom McAlpin left the Disney Cruise Line presidency and was replaced by Karl Holz as president of Disney Cruise Line and New Vacation Operations. In early 2009, Disney and Canaveral Port Authority extended their agreement to 2022 with expansion to the terminal to handle the new class of ships. A re-posting of the Disney Magic to Europe in 2010 adding DCL’s first North European cruises with Mediterranean cruises.

With the arrival of Disney Dream in 2011, Disney Wonder was relocated to Los Angeles. With the arrival of Disney Fantasy in 2012, Disney Magicwas relocated to New York City in May 2012 for only the Summer season, before relocating to Galveston, Texas.

At the February 2016 Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards, three of Disney’s ships won 11 category awards. The company ordered ship of a new class of ship, Triton, in 2016 and 2017. On March 3, 2016, at the company annual meeting, Walt Disney Company Chairman Bob Iger announced that two new ships were planned to be built larger than the previous two ships. These ships are expected to join the line in 2021 and 2023. On July 15, 2017, Bob Chapek, President of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, announced at the D23 Expo that a seventh unnamed ship will join the fleet.  In April 2017, it was announced that Karl Holz would retire as president of Disney Cruise Line on February 15, 2018 and Anthony Connelly would assumed the role of president on October 1, 2017.

Disney Signature Experiences unit

Soon after a March 2018 conglomerate wide reorganization that formed Disney Parks, Experiences and Products segment division, Disney Cruise Line and New Vacation Operations was renamed Disney Signature Experiences along with a new president, Jeff Vahle.

Disney Cruise Line purchased in early March 2019 another Bahamas destination, Lighthouse Point property on the island of Eleuthera from the Bahamas Government. The cruise line was looking for another Bahamas location since the announcement of the third ship expansion in 2016. Disney is expected to spend $250 million and $400 million on developing the 700-acre property, incorporating Bahamian themes, and donate 190 acres including the southern most tip to the government for a national park. Disney also agreed to hire Bahamas for construction and employment and offer entrepreneurial training for its Bahamian employees. Also, Bahamian are to be given preference as vendors. The agreement also requires increases in calls on Bahamian ports, Nassau and Freeport, of 30 to 40 percent over 2018 calls.


Information courtesy of Wikipedia.