Disney Cruise Line appears to be progressing plans to enter the Australian cruise market for the first time, with Sydney a likely homeport for Disney Wonder potentially starting in late October 2023.
Speculation has been mounting about Disney Cruise Line’s debut Down Under for several months, after Magical Cruise Company, Limited – the company that Disney Cruise Line operates under in other markets – registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in April this year. That’s after the company registered for Australia’s Good & Services Tax (GST) at the start of 2022.
Overnight [Thursday 21 July 2022], Disney Cruise Line (DCL) released a preview of its autumn/winter and holidays sailings for 2023. That program includes voyages from Florida, California and New York encompassing sailings primarily to the Caribbean on Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and the brand-new Disney Wish, along with the US West Coast and Mexican Riviera on Disney Magic.
Notably absent from the program – that goes on sale next week – is Disney Wonder, whose last listed sailing available to book online at present is an Alaskan voyage operating round-trip from Vancouver, concluding on 19 September 2023.
Disney Wonder is DCL’s second ship, built in 1999 it has a capacity of 2,400-passengers and received an extensive enhancement in the second half of 2019. The lack of information on Wonder‘s deployment may be viewed as a sign that something new and different is on the horizon.
Interestingly, an ‘Unnamed Vessel’ from an ‘Unnamed Line’ has been assigned more than 20 berths between 27 October 2023 and 16 February 2024 with the Port Authority of NSW. That’s ample time for a ship such as Disney Wonder to sail from Vancouver, via the South Pacific and Hawaii, to Australia.
The vast majority of those port calls in NSW are in Sydney at either the Overseas Passenger Terminal or White Bay Cruise Terminal. Four ports are at Eden on the NSW South Coast.
While there is no indication that the ‘Unnamed Line’ is that of Disney Cruise Line, the frequency of short-duration turnarounds over the Christmas/New Year period and January school holidays, would be optimally timed for a family-focused cruise line.
Between 17 December 2023 and 23 January 2024, the ‘unnamed vessel’ is offering around a dozen short sailings of three- to five-nights, including what could be a 4-day Christmas sailing [plus a week-long New Years voyage], more than enough time for Disney fans to get their Mickey Mouse & friends fix, while at sea.
The mystery cruise line has also scheduled a number of what appears to be longer sailings, which could be for voyages to ports such as Melbourne, where it may also have scheduled a series of roundtrips, transTasman sailings or cruises in the South Pacific. A search of the cruise port schedules for those locations by LATTE does not yet yield any further indication of where else outside NSW the ‘unnamed line’ will be venturing.
And in a further possible sign that Disney Cruise Line is coming Down Under, this week Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia confirmed DCL as first-time exhibitor at Cruise360 Australasia Trade Show, being held next month in Sydney – a possible platform from which DCL could announce its intention for the local market and ramp up awareness with travel advisors.
Last month, Disney’s Vice President of Marketing & Sales International Jeff van Langeveld told media “Australia and New Zealand are big cruise markets with a strong affinity for Disney, so naturally that’s going to be a big focus for us going forward.”
ReviewTyme also provided its own analysis on why Disney Cruise Line could be poised to launch in Australia. Its video on YouTube (see below) has racked up more than 11,400 views since being posted in late May 2022, before the latest insight on Disney Wonder‘s possible deployment locally.