How Disney Cruise Line May Change After The Viral Crisis

Disney Cruise Line
Credit: Disney

While Walt Disney World has been open since last July, there is still no word on when cruises from the United States will resume. Disney has canceled all of the longer cruises through October 9, and the shorter cruises are being canceled on a month to month basis. People are itching to get back to the seas, but it has to be done safely. While Disney Cruise Line has not yet announced what it will take to set sail again, here are a few changes that we MIGHT see for the first several months. Remember, this is all speculation.


1. COVID Tests and Proof of Vaccination

Before boarding a cruise in the past passengers were asked about nausea and diarrhea. Once Disney Cruise Line starts sailing again, that’s going to seem minor. While no one has yet said that proof of vaccination will be required from US ports, it will be mandatory in other parts of the world. At the very least we can expect that rapid COVID tests will be required at the port before boarding. We think that the tests will be performed on site, so that the results will be as current as possible.

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2. New Departure Ports

There has not even been a hint that Disney Cruise Line is considering changing ports. That said, Disney will want to keep in mind the safety procedures from the states that they sail out of. If a state passes laws that will make it difficult to enforce new safety protocols, we could see sailings from new ports in the future.

3. Staycations

The Disney Magic is sailing this summer from the United Kingdom. These sailings are called Staycations. There are no ports of call, just days at sea. If these prove to be popular, we could see something similar from the United States as well. Who wouldn’t want to spend a few days and nights at sea?

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4. Face Coverings and Social Distancing

Disney Cruise Line promotional videos show passengers wearing masks. There is a good chance that the requirements will be similar to those at Walt Disney World. Masks could be required in public areas, except for pools and restaurants. They will be needed in the passageways as well, since the space is compact. We also think that there will be additional social distancing measures. Fortunately, spaces like the Atrium are large enough that it will be easy to stay a safe distance from others. Stores and bars will most likely have limited capacity.

Credit: Disney

5. Kids’ Clubs

The kids’ clubs are one of the reasons why many families choose Disney Cruise Line. The kids always have a great time! Once cruises are sailing again face coverings will most likely be required in the clubs. Capacity could be limited, and reservations might be required. The information on whether or not there is room might be found in the Navigator App. The kids’ clubs could be one of the more challenging aspects of sailing again, since there are so many high touch areas. Extra sanitation will be required.

6. Theaters and Shows

The Broadway style shows are one of the most popular aspects of a Disney Cruise Line vacation. The shows themselves might be modified, to keep the performers safe. This is assuming that the actors have not received COVID-19 vaccines. We might see added performances, so that guests will be able to keep apart from other parties. Free tickets might be required to attend. Expect limited capacity for movies as well. Extra showings could be added, or the list of movies you can enjoy in your stateroom could expand.

7. Cabanas

If you enjoy the breakfast or lunch buffet at Cabanas, the experience will most likely change. There are no buffets right now at Walt Disney World, and we doubt that Cabanas will be a traditional buffet for a while. There are two possibilities. It could be that you still go down the line, but someone will put the food on your plate instead of you serving yourself. The other possibility is that Cabanas will offer full service dining for all three meals. The former buffets at Walt Disney World are served family style, but the offerings are Cabanas are so vast that we’re not sure if that would be practical.

8. Characters

With so many balconies on each ship it shouldn’t be hard to see characters. Getting up close probably will not happen for a while. We would not be surprised if Disney adds some extra picture spots so that guests can have fun photos with a Disney theme. Since these pictures would be taken at a safe distance, they could possibly be snapped without face coverings.

Photo Credit: disneycruise.com

9. Sanitation and Cleaning

This is one thing that will not change. Sanitation has always been a top priority on Disney Cruise Line. You will still need to clean your hands before entering a restaurant, and the kids will do the same when heading to the kids’ club. We will also most likely see hand sanitizer dispensers and wipes. It could be that housekeeping does not visit during a trip, or that they only stop by once a day. We hope that isn’t the case, we’d miss the towel creations.

10. Deck Parties

It’s hard to imagine a Disney Cruise Line vacation without deck parties. Whether it’s the Sail Away Party or Pirates In the Caribbean, the parties are fun for all ages. That said, will deck parties be safe? If capacity is limited on the ships then deck parties could easily happen, but if all staterooms are filled it will be more difficult. Our guess is that capacity will be limited at the Sail Away Party, and it will be first come, first served. Pirate Night could very well be temporarily suspended, just like fireworks at Walt Disney World. There would just be too many people in a small space. We hope we’re wrong on this one as well.

Photo: Disney

11. Elevators

One of the most challenging aspects of Disney Cruise Line sailing again will be the elevators. They are often crowded because there are A LOT of stairs to climb otherwise. We think that capacity will be limited on the elevators, so expect long waits, especially after a show or a meal. We think that priority in the elevators will go to those who cannot physically do the stairs. If you plan to cruise, you might want to start building your leg muscles, so that the stairs will be an option for you if the wait is too long. If not, give yourself plenty of time.

We really don’t know what Disney Cruise Line has planned when they sail again from the United States, but we know that Disney will take every precaution possible. We also know that things are moving ahead, even with the ships not carrying passengers. The Disney Wish has reached a major milestone with the keel laying ceremony. The latest vessel will sail in 2022. New destinations have been announced for next year as well. Marvel Day at Sea and Star Wars Day at Sea will be back in January. Even though things might look different at first, we know that Disney Cruise Line will provide us with vacations that are at the top of the industry. We expect nothing less.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.