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Disney Fantasy vs. Disney Dream
Disney Fantasy vs. Disney Dream

Disney Cruise Line History

Brittany Chrusciel
Contributor
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Exterior shot of Disney Wonder at sea
Disney Cruise Line logo

Who is Disney Cruise Line's CEO? Jeff Vahle (April 2018 –)

What year was Disney Cruise Line founded? 1996

Which vessels are in the Disney Cruise Line fleet?

  • Disney Magic
  • Disney Wonder
  • Disney Dream
  • Disney Fantasy
  • Disney Wish (coming 2021)

See the complete list.

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Disney Cruise Line is a subsidiary of Walt Disney World, originally incorporated in 1996 as Magical Cruise Company Limited, headquartered in Celebration, Florida. Previously, Walt Disney World chartered Premier Cruise Line, a subsidiary of Premier Cruises, from 1985 to 1993, which it ran as "The Big Red Boat."

The modern iteration of Disney Cruise Line (DCL) began with Disney Magic in 1998 and Disney Wonder in 1999, sister ships carrying 1,754 passengers in 875 staterooms, with art deco and art nouveau themes, respectively. The ships were custom-built by Fincantieri at a shipyard in Italy.

When Disney execs decided to enter the cruise business, they looked back to the 1920s for inspiration. The result: Both Disney Magic and Disney Wonder resemble luxurious ocean liners of a bygone era that just happen to have all the modern bells and whistles. Since the line's inception, Disney ships can be identified in port by their elongated dark blue hulls, matching red funnels and elaborate yellow insignia.

Chief among the innovations Disney introduced to the cruise industry are its cabins with a bath-and-a-half and a rotating dining room schedule in which passengers eat at three different restaurants, but with the same tablemates and wait staff. It was also the first cruise line to launch the "soda card" concept, an idea which has been picked up by competitors. In response, the line went further, offering soda gratis in restaurants and at the self-service beverage stations on the pool deck.

Disney Cruise Line operated a two-ship fleet for nearly a decade but built two new vessels, Disney Dream (2011) and Disney Fantasy (2012), to be significantly larger than Magic and Wonder -- two decks higher and 128,690 tons (compared to Magic and Wonder's 83,000 tons). Mirroring the design of Magic and Wonder, Dream maintains an art deco design, while Fantasy is art nouveau.

In March 2016, Disney announced two new 135,000-ton ships will be built by the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany, launching in 2021 and 2023, respectively. Each ship will have 1,250 cabins.

On July 15, 2017, a third new Disney ship was announced, set to debut in 2022.

Updated February 20, 2020

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