Port Canaveral officials expect Disney Cruise Line to increase its presence at Brevard County’s seaport, as the company expands its four-ship worldwide fleet to seven.
To get ready, port commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved moving forward with a study of how to upgrade Disney’s Cruise Terminal 8 and the nearby Cruise Terminal 10, a terminal that now is used primarily by Norwegian Cruise Line.
Disney’s two largest ships — the 4,000-passenger Dream and Fantasy — currently are based at Port Canaveral year-round. In recent years, one of its smaller ships — either the 2,700-passenger Magic or Wonder — also has been based at Port Canaveral during the winter sailing season, then moves to another port at other times of the year.
But with Disney planning to add new ships in 2021, 2022 and 2023, Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray told port commissioners that the port needs to be ready to host one of those new ships.
Disney’s “intention, longer-term, is to add another full-time vessel to the port, home-ported,” Murray told port commissioners. “So we’ll have more activity than Terminal 8 can handle.”
Port Canaveral is an attractive cruise port for Disney because it is the closest port to the Walt Disney World theme park complex in the Orlando area. Many Disney Cruise Line passengers combine their cruises with a visit to Disney World.
Disney’s Cruise Terminal 8 at the port is Port Canaveral’s smallest and oldest major terminal.
“Their terminal hasn’t had a significant upgrade since 1998,” Murray said. “With the newer ships, there is a desire to refresh the facility, and bring it up to current standards.”
Cruise Terminal 10 comes into play as well, Murray said, because, in the future, Disney is likely to regularly have two ships in port on the same day, necessitating the need for two ship berths.
Disney Cruise Line in March 2016 announced plans to add two ships to its four-ship fleet — one in 2021, the other in 2023. In July 2017, Disney announced plans for a third new ship that will go into service in 2022.
Disney has not announced where those ships will be based.
Disney is one of Port Canaveral’s four major cruise lines. The others are Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.
Bill Crowe, the port’s senior director of facilities, construction and engineering, said port officials are “obviously, very excited” about the project and the anticipated expansion of Disney’s presence.
“Disney is a great partner to work with,” Crowe said. “They’re a great partner for the port, and they do things ‘the Disney way,’ so we’re really excited to be a part of that.”
Port commissioners on Wednesday approved a purchase order authorizing Bermello Ajamil & Partners Inc. of Miami to prepare the feasibility study costing up to $190,542, related to upgrades to Cruise Terminals 8 and 10. C&S Engineers and RS&H Engineers also will work on the project.
The study will include cost estimates for the project.
Crowe said the study will take two to three months.
Crowe said one challenge will be how to make Terminal 10 look like a Disney terminal when a Disney ship is docked there and look like a Norwegian terminal when a Norwegian ship is docked there.
Crowe said that likely will be accomplished through use of LED display monitors that can be modified quickly.
Crowe said Port Canaveral and Disney Cruise Line officials plan to meet later this week to further discuss the cruise terminal project. The port and Disney started preliminary discussions of this project about three months ago, he said.
“They’re very hands-on, obviously,” Crowe said. “We welcome that.”