For the first time ever Disney Cruise Line is sailing three ships out of Port Canaveral, marking the beginning of a year of expansion for the cruise industry in Central Florida.
The line repositioned the recently refurbished Disney Magic, which had been sailing out of PortMiami, and it now joins its sister ships the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.
"We welcome the return of the Disney Magic to its original homeport and are delighted to host three Disney ships through 2015," said Port Canaveral CEO John E. Walsh. "More ships homeporting and calling at Port Canaveral is a win for everyone in Central Florida."
Disney Cruise Line, which will maintain three ships at the port through May 2014 as well as the fall and into the first half of 2015 also announced the results of a study to determine the economic impact of bringing the Magic back to Brevard County.
The ship's arrival will translate to 1,000 new jobs for the region, according to the Martin Associates study. The group is a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based firm that conducts economic research for ports and cruise lines.
The line says basing its two newer ships in Port Canaveral already adds 4,000 jobs and more than $450 million to the regional economy.
The line's fourth ship, the Disney Wonder, is taking over spring sailing duties in Miami, a port the line only began using in 2012. This marks the first time all four of the line's ships will be sailing out of Florida ports, a strategy they plan on maintaining through the first part of 2015.
For Central Florida, having three Disney ships just down the road means more options and an opportunity to see the enhancements given the Disney Magic after an extensive overhaul last fall including the new AquaDunk waterslide.
The Fantasy, which debuted in 2012 will continue offering seven-night eastern and western Caribbean options, running about $1,100-$1,500 for an inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.
Both the Dream and the Magic will offer three- and four-night Bahamas cruises that run $300-$400 for an inside cabin on the three-night sailings and $400-$500 for an inside cabin for the four-night options. In the fall, the Magic will take over seven-night western Caribbean duties as the Fantasy focuses exclusively on the eastern Caribbean.
All three ships will make stops at Disney's private Bahamas island Castaway Cay.
Having three ships using the same port means a little juggling. The Dream will depart its four-night trips on Sundays, with the Magic departing on Mondays, while the Dream's three-night sailings will depart on Thursdays with the Magic departing on Fridays.
The Fantasy's seven-night cruises depart on Saturdays.
The addition of the ship means the port now hosts seven ships including the Carnival Dream and Sensation and Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas. Carnival, which had been sailing three ships before repositioning the Ecstasy to Miami in December, will bring back a third ship to the mix as well when the Carnival Liberty arrives in May.
Also new to the port will be the arrival of the Carnival Sunshine in April, which will be trading places with the Dream, which has sailed out of Port Canaveral since its debut in 2009. The Sunshine is the renamed Carnival Destiny, which underwent a $155 million makeover in 2013.
Royal Caribbean will also begin sailing three ships out of the port starting next November with the arrival of the Explorer of the Seas.
The port will at that point be hosting nine ships, the most ever for the third-largest port in the state. The growth in traffic comes along with the recent opening of the Exploration Tower, an iconic seven-story structure that offers panoramic views of the Space Coast as well as historical and interactive exhibits. The Port Authority is also moving forward with development of the Cove entertainment district, which could be similar in size to Downtown Disney or Celebration Town Center.
"We're expecting more passengers than ever this year and these visitors contribute to the growth of our economy by purchasing everything from hotel rooms to food and merchandise," Walsh said. "Local businesses supplying food, beverages, and services to the cruise lines benefit from more homeported and port of call ship visits to Canaveral."
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