Happy New Year!!! Before we welcome in 2014, let take a look at what happened over the last 365 days! 2013 can be summed up in one word… Magical; as the Disney Magic garnered most of the spotlight. Disney Cruise Line’s flagship vessel celebrated her 15th anniversary in July and underwent a major overhaul in the fall. There were also some polarizing policy changes that some considered magical, but generated an intense debate. Our magical year in review will highlight some of the more interesting events and stories that occurred during each month of 2013.
The year started out with an announcement from another cruise line that they would be joining Disney Cruise Line with Fireworks at Sea which ultimately led to a change in wording to the first cruise line with fireworks at sea. The Disney Dream came to the rescue of 2 Stranded Boaters in the Bahamas after their boat lost power. Disney earnered their first accolades of the year by sweeping the large ship category in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers Poll. Port Canaveral began to offer prepaid parking allowing guests to the option to eliminate the post cruise parking fee. The big story in January was the discovery of concept design renderings for what would later be confirmed as Carioca’s and Cabanas aboard the Disney Magic.
There was an interesting announcement with regard to the parks and resorts that Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea would replace Nescafé. While this only covered land operations, it did spark some hope that Joffrey’s Coffee would eventually find a way on to the ships. At the time, the much anticipated balance of the 2014 itineraries were announced which included the addition of two new homeports; Venice and San Juan. Reports out of New Orleans surfaced indicating a that port official were actively pursuing Disney Cruise Line. The award condintued to flow in this time from CruiseCritic.com which ranked the Disney Fantasy as the Best Overall Cruise Experience in their 2013 Cruisers’ Choice Awards along with a clean sweep for Disney Cruise Line in the Best for Families category.
March started off on a fantastic note as we had the opportunity to sail on the Disney Fantasy on an itinerary that sailed to the beautifully port of San Juan and was capped off with an amazing brunch at Remy! Disney’s newest cosmetic line, Beautifully Disney made its way to the ships along with a new batch of exclusive DCL Chamilia Charm Beads. 2013 marked Disney Cruise Line’s crystal anniversary which led to the release of the 15 Magical Years merchandise fleet wide.
In April, Disney Cruise Line named Anthony Connelly Senior Vice President of Operations and revised their stateroom door decoration policy. April Fools Day had it’s share of false claims which led to the rumor mill picking up steam with talk about two new ships or two “new” ships. The rumors continued with some additional leaked information pointing to a MARVEL-ous overhaul to the Oceaneer Club and the AquaDunk. Disney Parks held a Monsterous Summer presentation at Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa which was capped off with the official announcement of Disney Magic’s major overhaul. To coincide with the big dry dock announcement, a reimagined Castaway Club Compass Magazine: eCompass was launched online.
With the pomp and circumstance of the Disney Magic announcement out of the way, it was time to focus on summer. First out of the gate, was the discovery that the Pixar Pals Party would replace the Pirates IN the Caribbean Deck Party on the Disney Wonder’s Alaskan Sailings. Later in May, Disney Cruise Line joined other lines in adopting the Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights. With the official start of summer less than a month away we reimagined the weather forecasts on the site, and NOAA released their forecast for the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season which thankfully never lived up to the predictions.
As summer started to heat up, there was an unexpected itinerary shakeup that sent the Disney Magic to Port Canaveral & Disney Wonder to Miami in late 2014. Not much else transpired aside from first every AquaDucky Derby which was held fleet wide and raised $14,000 for Make-A-Wish International.
The second half of the year was capped by the return of return of the Disney Magic to Venice, Italy almost 15 years to the date she was there last. As more and more details about the Disney Magic were released, we stumbled up on another rendering depicting the entrance of Carioca’s. In an effort to help plan for an upcoming cruise, we unveiled an online booking window date calculator to quickly determine when you can login and officially plan your vacation. Condé Nast Traveler named Disney Cruise Line as a finalist in the 2013 World Savers Awards, but ultimately did not earn the award. Closing out July, the remnants of on again/off again Tropical Storm Dorian resulted in a shuffling of the Disney Fantasy Eastern Caribbean itinerary.
Continuing the trend in the cruise industry, DCL posted their voluntary crime allegation disclosure reports online and are now updated quarterly. It was confirmed that Captain America would be joining the crew aboard the Disney Magic in Marvel’s Avengers Academy. During the press conferences leading up to the 2013 Disney D23 Expo, Alan Menken mentioned that he was working on theatrical version of Tangled for Disney Cruise Line. In what seemed like a one-two punch, Disney updated their smoking policy prohibiting smoking on the veranda and revised the cruise casual attire definition to include shorts. Disney Cruise Line’s original captain, Capt Tom Forberg was honored with the title Commodore.
With the Magic set to make Venice a home port in 2014, news broke that Venice was seeking to ban cruise ships from entering the port in an attempt to protect the historic city. Disney Cruise Line joined the app craze by releasing a Personal Navigator app for smartphones and tablets. The app underwent sea trials on the Disney Fantasy and eventually introduced on the Disney Dream. The Magic ended her Mediterranean season and set a course for Cadiz, Spain where she began her transformation at Navantia’s Puerto Real shipyard. Quebec, Canada surfaced as another port expressing interest in a future relationship with Disney. The 2013 Cruise International Awards ceremony was held and Disney Cruise Line was honored as Best Cruise Line for Families and Entertainment. With the Magic’s transformation underway another unexpected announcement that the Disney Wonder would go for a quick dry dock in late January 2014. September closed as work on the Magic continued and the Disney Wonder arrived in Galveston for the the first time.
On paper, October was set to big a big month and boy was it ever with a few surprises added on at the last minute. The first order of business was the increase in the price of Palo. The transformation of the Disney Magic continued and we were provided with a look at some of the unmentioned changes via the revised deck plan. With the Magic’s Cadiz dry dock almost complete her sister, the Disney Wonder, made the line’s first call to Falmouth, Jamaica. Accolades continued in October, with the Condé Nast Traveler 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards naming DCL the top large-ship cruise line, Karl Holz was honored by the American Association of Port Authorities with the 2013 Cruise Award, and DCL earned an A Grade from Friends of the Environment’s cruise report card.
While an earlier story indicated that Disney was partially behind a new port development project in Tortola that was stalled, news continued to surface that Disney was negotiating berthing space in Tortola for as early as 2015. In November, Karl Holz confirmed that Disney is working on an agreement, but as of December 12th the Tortola berthing agreement remains un-signed.
As anticipation grew towards the relaunch of the Disney Magic, the project was damped by “weather” and as a result of the delay the October 20, 2013 sailing was canceled. Instead of sailing to Miami, the Magic returned home to Port Canaveral to finish the work with all hands on deck. While the Magic was tied up in port, she put on a little concert with her younger sister the Disney Dream. After a few extra days, the Disney Magic arrived in Miami for her first sailing with pixie dust still being sprinkled around the ship.
While sailing on both the Dream and Magic at the end of October, we were able to see first hand how much safer the pools were with the addition of lifeguards across the fleet. The first appearance of next gen technology in the form of MagicBands appeared on the Disney Magic with the Youth Activities Oceaneer Bands Replacing Mickey Bands. Disney announced their early 2015 sailings with some very high opening day prices. The Disney Magic appeared on Civitavecchia port calendar for a few calls beginning in August 2014, but was eventually relabeled to To Be Determinated. Soon after the itinerary announcement the onboard booking offer policy was revised to include an 18 month expiration date. Finally, just before Thanksgiving Royal Court Royal Tea was officially announced as an experience aboard the Disney Fantasy following a about four months of sea trials.
The start of December marked the close of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season which thankfully did not live up to the preseason predictions. Disney published the Winter 2013 edition of the Castaway Club eCompass with some exciting information that the events from the Disney Dreams Halloween on the High Seas sailings will be expanded fleet wide in 2014. I carved out some time to edit some more photos from Magic’s relaunch and shared the new spaces in the adult entertainment district, After Hours. The final policy change of the year was the inclusion of block out dates for onboard bookings which appears to be loosely based on the Walt Disney World for Florida Resident Seasonal Pass block out dates. Just in time to ring in the New Year, prices to many rentals and port adventure at Castaway Cay were increased effective for the first sailings in 2014.
Thank you again for your readership in 2013 & I hope you continue to enjoy your time on the site in 2014! Please let us know what you would like to see from us in 2014 by leaving a comment or sending us an email.