As Disney Cruise Line prepares to grow its fleet from four to seven ships, a report out of the Bahamas confirms the line is interested in developing a second private destination there.
Nassau-based news site Tribune242.com said Kim Prunty, vice president of communications for Disney Signature Experiences, which includes the cruise line, confirmed the company’s interest in still finding a second home for its ships in the Bahamas, although would not confirm the exact location of where Disney has its eye on. The report, though, was based on speculation about land on a peninsula called Lighthouse Point on the island of Eleuthera.
Eleuthera is a long, thin island west of Nassau and farther south than Disney’s existing private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.
Scott Sanders who runs DisneyCruiseLineBlog.com, a fan site not affiliated with the line, said rumors about Disney seeking a second destination in the Bahamas have been around for some time, and this speculative news isn’t a surprise.
“I did not believe Disney would just give up on a second location with new ships on the horizon,” Sanders said.
He says that pursuing the 700-acre peninsular destinaton instead of a private island has its benefits including being able to emply local residents without having to ferry them, and any construction project could use local crews and equipment with road access to the rest of the island as well as the fact that Eleuthera has three airports.
Disney’s fleet will welcome its first new ship in 2021 with two more coming in 2022 and 2023. The line says that they will be 140,000 gross tons, which is slightly larger than the 130,000 gross tons of Dream and Fantasy, but will have the same number of staterooms: 1,250.
Sanders said with a growing fleet that could see more traffic between Florida and the Bahamas, a second destination would benefit the line.
“Castaway Cay has been a busy stop when the four ships were sailing from Florida ports,” Sanders said. “Add ships five, six and seven to the mix and you’d have a scheduling problem. I do not anticipate all seven ships simultaneously deployed to the same region, but even with five ships in the area that could take a toll on Castaway Cay.”
Some of the needed relief to support the existing destination includes construction and refurbishment that is usually not in action when a visiting ship is in port.
“Castaway needs non-ship days to allow the island crew to maintain the island to Disney’s standards which guests have come to expect after nearly 20 years,” he said.
Castaway Cay is 1,000 acres, but less than 100 of it is developed. The line leased the island from the Bahamas in 1997 and it was the first private Bahamas destination with a dock to allow for mass debarkation of passengers. Other cruise lines have similar private islands in the works, or big plans to expand existing ones.
“Castaway Cay does offer the tranquility of a relaxing island retreat, but it is falling behind in terms of amenities when you compare to rival Royal Caribbean and their plans for Coco Cay.” Sanders said.
So while there’s still space for Disney to expand Castaway Cay, a new Bahamas destination could allow for faster development, keeping Disney Cruise Line competitive with other Florida-based cruise lines.
By Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
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