Disney Cruise Line Expected to Enforce Port Arrival Times While Limiting Occupancy to 70% Upon Return to Cruising

During the Port of Galveston’s September 1, 2020 Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves meeting, Rodger Rees, Port Director/CEO shared details from his recent discussions with Disney Cruise Line as it relates to the port’s involvement with cruise operations, specifically embarkation and disembarkations.

Port Of Galveston Wharves Board Meeting 20200901

Rees first spoke about the embarkation process where Disney Cruise Line plans to only allow a limited amount of people in the terminal at a time which they currently do with port arrival times. However, it is anticipated the port arrival times will now be enforced to control the gathering of arriving passengers. While not mentioned, I feel there is a very good chance Concierge and Platinum Castaway Club members will now be required to select a port arrival time. One of the benefits sailing concierge and being a Platinum Castaway Club member has been the perk of showing up at the port whenever without needed a port arrival time. Although, in practice since it was never enforced, it just made for an overly crowed terminal with groups waiting for a high number boarding group. This could even be why Disney Cruise Line is updating their online check-in process.

The port and cruise lines are prepared for later departures due to the extended disembarkation and embarkation time required to process passengers on turnover days.

According to Rees, Disney Cruise Line is targeting a 70% occupancy level when the Disney Wonder returns to service at the Port of Galveson, hopefully before the end of this year. Although November sailings are un-bookable, the Disney Wonder is slated to sail a 7-Night Bahamian Cruise from Galveston on November 20th barring any additional cruise cancellations.

Rees mentioned during the discussion with the board that he has heard a 30% occupancy level is the threshold for a sailing to be profitable, this was not a direct statement relating to Disney Cruise Line, but a general statement about cruise ships.

The meeting also discussed some details on Port Canaveral where Disney is looking into bringing fresh air into the terminals instead of recirculating the same air.

Below in a chopped up excerpt from the board’s meeting where Rodger Rees discussed Disney Cruise Line’s proposed plans, the full meeting can be viewed on the Port of Galveston website.

The Disney Fantasy is likely going to be the test ship that will resume sailings for Disney Cruise Line from Port Canaveral to test the waters before ramping up cruise operations when the time is right. This is all early planning/discussions between the cruise line and port partners. The Wonder has sailing into late January from Galveston, even with the uncertainty the ports need to be prepared for a return. Bottom line, there will be a reduction in passenger capacity upon the restart, but the exact number remains a mystery until it is a published datapoint by either the cruise line, CLIA, or the CDC.

For the sake of argument, let us look at a scenario where Disney Cruise Line would restart cruise operations with just verandah staterooms. Under this scenario, occupancy would be roughly 70% on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, and 40% on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. Potentially, the Galveson CEO may have been sharing details on a Dream class ship restoring operations out of Port Canaveral.

25 Replies to “Disney Cruise Line Expected to Enforce Port Arrival Times While Limiting Occupancy to 70% Upon Return to Cruising”

  1. BartmanLA

    WOW Speculating much???? This is nothing but hyperbole couched in “what we want to see” attitude from the Port officials. Sure they want ships to start sailing again so they can make money, but to insinuate that things are going to happen “soon” is irresponsible and outright dangerous to encourage people to think that “fresh air” is a primary method of removing possible viral infection among passengers coming to sail! Granted they’re trying to be positive but they need actual facts not supposition, not to mention the CDC hasn’t lifted the NO SAIL order yet… so there’s that.

  2. James Arthur

    Considering it’s spread thru respiratory droplets, greater air exchange is beneficial. But I don’t think increasing the air exchange in the terminal isn’t that beneficial unless the cruise ships are also increasing the air exchange.

    The more I think about it, an improved online check in should allow for almost all of the terminal processing to be eliminated. The KTWC could be issued curb side while drooping luggage off with the porters or DCL could switch over to magic bands and mail them like WDW. Allowing the customers to directly board the ship.

  3. Keith

    James, I like that idea of the magic bands. It would be easy to issue them to the travelers and when they arrive, they swipe the band in front of a kiosk and it checks and activates it in one process. If people want the KTWC card, they can schedule a time the day before to pick up the keys….kinda like a WILL CALL system. Our daughter has special needs and also suffers from anxiety, so her waiting in her wheelchair in a terminal causes stress and anxiety…..they have plenty of time to think about how to improve the process.

  4. BartmanLA

    Magic Bands don’t allow for all the features that the KTTW cards do, especially for purchases for people over 21 who have to give up their KTTW cards for identification, and also one process for the check in requires verification of possession of documentation (passports) for international trave, especially for first time cruisers, also there’s NO way DCL would allow porters (who are NOT DCL employee’s) access to KTTW cards. I’m sure the updated check in process is just going to give further information and notification of procedures upon arrival at terminals including possibility of the need to go through rapid testing prior to entering the terminal.

    1. Scott Sanders Post author

      There was early testing where the MagicBands were printed with similar information that was on the KTTW cards. If you look at the POS systems it will show your security photo when it is scanned.

  5. Info Man

    Do you have any more insight regarding the statement “The Disney Fantasy is likely going to be the test ship that will resume sailings for Disney Cruise Line from Port Canaveral to test the waters before ramping up cruise operations when the time is right.”? Currently booked for that cruise so would be very interested to know what is being said about it.

    1. Scott Sanders Post author

      As it stands based on the next few sailings that are not cancelled, the Fantasy is offering short cruises. Simply an estimate based on my part. If the there is another round of cancellations, I will change this to the Dream as the Dream and Fantasy switch back to their traditional 3/4 and 7 routes beginning mid/late-November.

  6. Shaf

    Magicbands are a good idea but they can only be mailed US Residents. For anyone arriving from outside the US the Magicbands can only be picked up at the WDW resort front desk. So they would still need to do this for a lesser number of DCL guests at the port.
    Another question would be how would they check in is only done online?

    1. Scott Sanders Post author

      There is nothing stopping anyone from shipping MagicBands outside of the United States. Unless there is some legal reason I am not aware of, I think the WDW shipping restriction is more to do with shipping cost and shipping times.

  7. Kate Walter

    I would think that to be a technological challenge, as the computer systems, cameras, etc. are at counters in terminal, along with the physical cards and all that. Plus, it would jam/back up the drop-off process, causing traffic issues getting into parking lot/drive-thru lanes.

  8. JFB

    …The MagicBand is in interesting idea, but those don’t ship out of the US due to “intellectual property restrictions on proprietary technology” so they still would have to figure out a distribution system for non-US guests…

  9. Jo

    We bring our KTWC home with us as we need it to disembark. Wouldn’t it be the same with the bands. People must take them home to other countries. I doubt they self destruct like something on the old Mission Impossible. Kind of ironic that DCL is making improvements to the terminal and now we are trying to figure out how to avoid going inside it. Looking forward to seeing those smiling faces once again at check-in. Do not want to see more people lose their jobs to technology.

  10. Shaf

    One of the reasons is the cost, but I believe that is not the only reason. Another reason is Disney already has approval from FCC for shipping the Magicband to addresses within the USA. They would need to go through the process of getting approval from different governments since Magicbands are devices that can transmit electronically. I’m sure there are other reasons like proprietary technology, etc. Since the devices are only intended to be used within the USA at the parks they don’t go through the hurdles and cost of trying to get approval to ship outside the USA.
    If you find out more about this we would love to hear more.

  11. Theresa Baker

    Having short cruises honestly makes no sense here. The turnover is so time consuming and will be even more so with new procedures. They’d be doing that double and handling twice as many people by operating the 3/4 cruises. Am I missing something that indicates that this would be a better idea to start with these rather than the standard 7 day Western & Eastern Caribbean Fantasy Cruises? The only thing I can think of is that they’d try to get people in and out before they could even show symptoms of having contracted COVID on board.

  12. Walt

    Theresa that sounds right. Never thought of that. And the fact that they can make more money with the shorter cruise. Just look at a 3/4 night on the Dream back to back.

  13. Robert Yetman

    I just looked at an old KTTW card, and there’s actually a lot of information on it, cruise dates, ship, your name, Castaway Club level and #, dining rotation, time and table, your lifeboat station, and a couple of other letter & numbers. While a lot of this is known ahead of time, things like the dining rotation (and room if on a GT booking) aren’t assigned until a few days prior, so mailing them out to folks ahead of time isn’t practical. Also, how do you put this all on a magic band, especially if it’s a smaller kid’s magic band? And it is also used as identification at the port, you can’t even get in the port areas at most of the ports without it, so lots of training in that regard would have to happen.

    I don’t see them doing away with the cards any time soon.

  14. Paul Teal

    Years ago when Disney came out with the Magic Band for park access, I was skeptical. When they added room access to the Magic Band, I was skeptical. When they did away with paper Fast Passes and put it on the Magic Band. I was skeptical. When they put dining reservations check-in on the Magic Band, I was skeptical. When they linked charge privileges to the Magic Band, I was skeptical. The Magic Band coupled with “My Disney Experience” on my phone with QR code scanning for restaurant menus is fantastic and make the Disney experience far more enjoyable. Now, I would not do Disney without it. As Disney Cruise Line is phasing out the paper “Daily Navigator” and is urging and educating people with the Navigator App you can access all your activities, dining assignments, show times and charge balance on the app. Magic Bands for the cruise lines is the next logical step. There is no storage limitations as there is actually no information on the Magic Band. It is only an RF chip linked to the main frame computer and response time is instant and information can be updated via the phone App or Guest services. It is easier than it sounds. I am not Tech savvy and became an expert in a few minutes. (with help of my 12 year old grand daughter) Once the RF signal on the magic band is out of range with the main frame computer the Magic Band is nothing more than a piece of plastic with a very. At Disney World with the use of repeaters the range covers the entire property. On the ship the range will cover the terminal and the ship.

  15. James Arthur

    Given the push to use the Navigator app before covid, I could see all of that info being incorporated into the app better. Example, The dinning rotation would show up in the daily events and a push notification near dinner time.

  16. James Arthur

    The MB is just a RFID token for the back end system. If anything, it could improve limiting alcohol to minors by having the swipe terminal bring up the check in picture to ensure the other brother isn’t passing his band.


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