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.
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.