Disney Dream set sail a little after 8 p.m. on August 9 from Port Canaveral on her first cruise post-pandemic. The four-day cruise will see the vessel sail to Castaway Cay as her only port of call. The vessel will stay here for two full days before steaming back to her homeport of Port Canaveral.
Cruises onboard Disney Dream are available to vaccinated and unvaccinated guests, allowing the vessel to sail with the standard contingency of families with children. Disney Dream is the first DCL ship to receive its conditional sailing certificate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When Disney Dream departed Monday, it was the first time the vessel has sailed with paying guests since the pause in operations started in March of 2020. Disney Dream’s return to service will see the ship sail on an itinerary that includes two full days at Castaway Cay.
Although a stop was scheduled in Nassau in the Bahamas, the cruise line recently removed this stop but did not offer any official statements regarding the change. Most likely, the cruise line wants to minimize the risk of infection onboard coming from guests who had been offshore and giving the cruise line more control of the situation onboard.
The ship will be alternating a 3-day and 4-day itinerary sailing to the Bahamas for the foreseeable future, giving families with kids a great opportunity for a few days on board a Disney ship.
Because Disney’s primary market is those of families with little kids, and kids under the age of twelve are not able to be vaccinated, Disney has chosen to take a route that involved the vessel taking a CDC test cruise, which Dream did on July 19, followed by shakedown cruises with crew members and invited guests.
Given that Disney must comply with the stricter measures the CDC requires from cruise lines sailing with unvaccinated guests, there have been some changes on board. So what’s different onboard this year compared to last year?
Although the 129,690-gross-ton Disney Dream has space for 2,500 passengers at double occupancy, the vessel is sailing with considerably fewer passengers at this time to comply with CDC regulations. The first change guests will notice when boarding a Disney cruise ship is that the embarkation process has been tightly regulated. Guests must arrive at the terminal at a predetermined time where they are separated between vaccinated and unvaccinated guests.
Vaccinated guests can proceed directly to the regular security checks and proceed onboard. Unvaccinated guests will have to self-administer a COVID test, wait for the result, and as long as the result is negative, can also proceed onboard.
The mandatory lifeboat drill has also changed. Guests can now proceed to their lifeboat stations and have their cards scanned, and that’s it—no more masses of people moving around the ship.
Other changes include designated timings in the gym for vaccinated guests, no more self-service onboard (including the self-service soda fountains, buffets, and ice cream), and social distancing implemented throughout the vessel, including the pool deck.
Disney is steadily working away on restarting its fleet vessel by vessel. Disney Magic started operating last month from the UK, sailing on 3-night cruises from Liverpool.
Disney Fantasy’s upcoming test cruises are a 3-night Bahamian visiting Nassau and Castaway Cay on August 26, and a 4-night Western Caribbean from Port Canaveral to Cozumel on August 29. She is scheduled to start revenue operations sailing on September 4 from Port Canaveral on an itinerary to Tortola, St. Thomas, and Disney’s Castaway Cay. There has been no news from Disney regarding the calls in St. Thomas and whether they will proceed as scheduled.
September 24 will see Disney operations starting up on the U.S. west coast; Disney Wonder will sail from San Diego on 2-night cruises to Ensenada. Last but not least, Disney’s newest cruise ship Disney Wish, which will be the largest in the fleet, will commence operations on June 17 of next year, also from Port Canaveral.