Disney Cruise Line came roaring back following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2020 hit the cruising industry hard. Moody’s, the credit rating agency, revealed the top three biggest cruise operators – Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line – lost a combined $900 million per month during the pandemic. Disney Cruise Line was not immune to such dire straits, with limited capacity on its sailings and the delay of its newest ship, the Disney Wish.
These days, however, you would be hard-pressed to find many residual signs of the pandemic’s impact on Disney Cruise Line. Fans of cruising have much to look forward to, especially in 2024, with the launch of Disney’s new private island destination, Lighthouse Point.
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A new private island prepares to open next year
Lighthouse Point is the upcoming Disney Cruise Line-exclusive island destination located on the southernmost tip of the island Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Lighthouse Point’s first guests will arrive in June 2024, and once open, the island will be the second private island just for guests aboard Disney Cruise Line. According to Disney, Lighthouse Point will be a “vibrant island retreat” and “will be a unique celebration of Bahamian culture brought to life with the quality and service of a Disney vacation.” The ships sailing the initial itineraries headed to the island will depart from Port Canaveral, Florida which is about a 70 minute drive from Walt Disney World.
While Lighthouse Point will be what Disney describes as a “celebration” of the Bahamas, it will still be isolated from the rest of the islands. Mikkel Woodruff, co-founder of Sometimes Sailing, points out, “Disney has thankfully chosen to lean into the location of Lighthouse Point and embrace the bright colors of the Bahamas. Though it’s not the same thing as going to some of the islands in the Bahamas with long-standing history and culture, it’s nice that DCL guests will get a taste of the flavor of the Bahamas at Lighthouse Point, like at the planned Arts and Cultural Pavilion.” Disney’s Bahamian cruises also stop at Nassau as one of its ports of call.
Lighthouse Point will include multiple beaches for families to kick back and relax, including one adult-only beach and private cabanas available for rental. If you want a day on Lighthouse Point filled with more activity, you will find hiking and biking trails around the island. And when hunger strikes, “market-style dining” will be close by.
Lighthouse Point joins a legacy of other private islands
Disney’s new island destination will join Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s original private island. Castaway Cay is a 1,000-acre island in the Bahamas, featuring multiple beaches, biking, running trails, character meet and greets, and more. For many cruisers, a trip to Castaway Cay is almost like an extension of Disney World, with several activities akin to what you would find in central Florida. Cara Beigel, Co-Founder of The Insiders, shares some of her experience from a recent Disney Cruise: “We have been big fans of RunDisney for a while, so the 5k on the island was super fun and I love the relaxing vibes and Disney magic hidden throughout the Island.”
Disney cruises that sail to the Bahamas and the Caribbean make at least one stop at Castaway Cay. Can’t decide which private island to visit on your next cruise? For some itineraries, you won’t have to choose. Kimberly Fidler, VP of Marketing for Get Away Today, notes, “Guests traveling June 2024 and later are lucky to have the option to book a cruise with itineraries that will visit both of Disney’s private islands.”
Disney is one of many companies with a private island for its cruise ships. Major cruise lines like Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean also have private island destinations, with these ports of call, in particular, ranking high among guests as their favorite destination while cruising.
More upcoming offers from Disney Cruise Line
Even if your next Disney Cruise Line voyage does not include a trip to Lighthouse Point, there is plenty to look forward to in the 2024 Disney Cruise Line season and beyond. The fleet’s sixth ship, the Disney Treasure, is set to arrive in 2024. It is the second of three new ships – with the Disney Wish being the first – joining the fleet through 2025. According to Disney, the Treasure will center around the theme of adventure.
In addition to those three new ships, Disney Cruise Line is finishing construction on a ship acquired in 2022 that will be docked in Singapore starting in 2025. Southeast Asia is not Disney’s only new international market in the coming years. “Disney Magic at Sea” cruises aboard the Disney Wonder will begin in the fall of 2023 in and around Australia and New Zealand. Repositioning cruises will be offered aboard the Disney Wonder in October 2023 and February 2024, including stops throughout the South Pacific, like Fiji and Samoa.
With all the excitement building around Disney Cruise Line’s newest offerings, it can be easy to lose sight of the original ships among the flurry of maiden voyages and other announcements. However, Disney’s existing fleet of ships still offers plenty of great dining, entertainment, and relaxation. Gavin Doyle, the founder of MickeyVisit.com shared that he was “blown away by the Disney Cruise to Alaska that had something for the entire family.” The Alaska cruises are conducted on the Disney Wonder, one of Disney's first ships constructed.
Disney continues to invest in and evolve their cruise offering. This new private island allows Disney to even better service guest needs generated by the addition of new ships.