Disney Cruise Line has been ramping up its profile since announcing a three-newbuild expansion. Ships are set for delivery in 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively. Now, the line is also making some interesting port moves, as well.
At present, Disney operates seasonally out of PortMiami under a preferential berthing agreement. That agreement expires at the end of this month. But, an amended agreement approved by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners last week goes much further. In fact, it provides for an eventual year-round presence for the line.
Under the new agreement, Disney commits to bring an additional 50,000 passengers through the port in the next four years. And, the line’s presence at PortMiami will really surge in 2023. That’s when the line will begin year-round operations there. In doing so, Disney agrees to increase annual passenger estimates from 150,000 to 360,000.
It will also mark the first time Disney deploys a ship year-round from a homeport other than Port Canaveral, Fla.
Disney will offer year-round four- and five-day cruises in 2023. In 2024, it agrees to bring a second, seasonal ship to sail three and four-day cruises from PortMiami.
Additionally, Disney also has first rights to build a new terminal to the east of Terminal J, on the south side of the port. Construction depends, however, on the successful widening of the nearby channel and turning basin. If that isn’t feasible, Disney and the port can explore other options.
“Disney Cruise Line has been a valued cruise partner at PortMiami since November 2012," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez in a statement
"With new vessels on order through 2023, we are collaborating with the Disney team on a memorandum of understanding for the potential development of a new cruise terminal project.
"The new facility will allow the port to expand its cruise business by accommodating Disney vessels capable of carrying more than 3,500 passengers. Investing in PortMiami's infrastructure positions Miami as a global destination for visitors. We couldn't be more excited to work with Disney on expanding growth opportunities in Miami-Dade County."
The move to Miami will put Disney in the same year-round operator status as Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International. Several of the other lines have announced splashy new terminals there. Royal Caribbean’s 170,000 sq. ft. structure is under construction. And, officials have recently approved a wave-shaped white terminal for Norwegian Cruise Line. MSC also has a terminal in the works.
Other remodeling is taking place at Terminal C, and extensive upgrades are underway to other terminals. PortMiami is the world’s busiest cruise port. The Disney Magic will sail from the port as of December 4.