Thursday, February 25, 2021

Update: All Disney Cruises are Canceled Until the End of May 2021, and All Cruises on the Magic are Canceled Until August 10th

Yesterday, February 24th, on their website, Disney announced that all cruises are canceled through May 2021.  Also, all cruises on the Magic are canceled until August 10th.  The Magic had so many more cruises canceled because it would've been in Europe, where there are many countries it visits.  Some of these countries may have closed themselves off from cruise ships, like what Canada did, and the countries it would be able to visit would all likely have different COVID-19 restrictions in place.  Rerouting cruises to avoid countries that are closed would have been much harder than just canceling most of the summer's European cruises, so Disney made the best choice here.  

Cruises on the Fantasy will resume on June 2nd, cruises on the Dream will resume on June 4th, cruises on the Wonder will resume on June 7th, and cruises on the Magic won't resume until August 18th.  

This announcement mentioned the Wonder's Alaskan cruises.  Since they're currently impossible as a result of Canada's closure, Disney is currently looking at alternative options.  So as of now, the Alaskan cruises aren't canceled.  If Disney doesn't cancel the Alaskan cruises at a later point in time, then they'll be changed, possibly into more Baja cruises from San Diego.  I went into more detail about this in a previous post, I suggest reading it if you haven't already.

All of the people affected by this suspension will either receive a full refund or a 125% future cruise credit (they can only get this if they paid their cruise in full).  The deadline to use the future cruise credit was recently extended until September 30th, 2022, so people with it will have the summer 2022 cruises to use it on, once those cruises get announced.  This suspension may get extended if needed, so check the Disney Cruise Line website for the latest information.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Disney Extended the Deadline to Use the 125% Future Cruise Credit

Yesterday, February 23rd, Disney announced that they have extended the 125% future cruise credit given to guests who had their cruises canceled from May 31st, 2022 to September 30th, 2022.  They made this announcement in an email.  Take a look:

Here's what the email says:

"Reservation #: 12345678

Dear DCLKid,

All of us at Disney Cruise Line hope you and your family are staying well. We are reaching out with important information about the cruise credit you were previously provided.

When your sailing was cancelled due to the pandemic, you were offered the choice of either a future cruise credit* equal to 125% of your original voyage fare or a full refund. We are now extending the use of your future cruise credit from sailings commencing prior to May 31, 2022 to sailings that depart by September 30, 2022.

Your credit has automatically been updated. If you have not done so already, you may place a reservation on hold by applying it as a payment option when booking a new reservation online. Once your modified reservation is paid in full, any remaining future cruise credit will be applied to your shipboard account as a non-refundable onboard credit.

If you prefer to speak to someone directly, please contact a member of our reservation team at 1-866-325-6685 or 407-566-7797. Sailings are currently available through the spring 2022 with additional eligible sailings to be released at a later date. 

We appreciate the planning that goes into a cruise vacation and hope you enjoy this additional time to travel. We look forward to welcoming you aboard as soon as we can and making magic for you and your loved ones.


Cast & Crew 
Disney Cruise Line

*The Future Cruise Credit is equal to 125% of your original voyage fare plus the cost of the Vacation Protection Plan, if applicable. The FCC is only valid for sailings commencing on or before September 30, 2022. Select Disney Wish block-out dates apply. Your original reservation must be paid in full to be eligible for the FCC. The FCC is applied per person and is non-transferable, non-refundable and has no cash value. Standard prevailing rates apply and Guests are responsible for any balance due after the FCC has been applied. If you end up not being able to use the FCC, you will be eligible for a refund up to the amount of your original voyage fare plus the cost of the Vacation Protection Plan, if applicable. Standard cancellation policies and terms and conditions apply to future sailings. Guests who previously received a FCC are not eligible for an additional FCC."

According to the email, before this extension, the future cruise credit (FCC) had to have been used on a cruise that starts before May 31st, 2022.  This deadline has now been extended to September 30th, 2022.  This means that there are many new options for people to use their FCC on, none of which have been announced yet.  I was thinking that Disney would extend the FCC use deadline, but wouldn't it have made more sense to announce this at the same time as the summer 2022 cruises, cruises that this announcement affects?  It just says, "Sailings are currently available through the spring 2022 with additional eligible sailings to be released at a later date."  I think these additional eligible sailings will be announced very soon, since the summer 2021 cruises were announced around this time in 2020.  

When Disney announces those summer 2022 itineraries, they'll also announce cruises on the Wish, which is scheduled to begin cruising then.  Disney knows this, and "select Disney Wish block-out dates apply".  They're going to not allow people to use the 125% FCC on some Wish cruises.  Fortunately, it  doesn't say all of them.  They'll probably block out the Wish's maiden voyage and the first few cruises so they don't fill up almost instantly, but not all of the summer 2022 Wish cruises.  This is good news!  Disney could've said, "No, I don't want you using your FCC on the Wish" and blocked out all summer 2022 Wish cruises, but they didn't!  If people use their 125% FCC, they'll have an easier time going on some cruises on the Wish, cruises that will probably be more expensive than cruises on the other four ships.  

Disney didn't say which Wish cruises would be blocked out because they haven't announced them yet.  The Wish's first itineraries will likely be announced at the same time as the other four ships' summer 2022 itineraries.  When the announcement is made, Disney will also probably reveal more information about the Wish, because if people know more about its features, more people will want to cruise on it.  The announcement could come any day now, even later today!  To be prepared for it, you can sign up for email alerts about the Wish on the Wish's website.  If you do, you'll get an email when Disney announces something related to the Wish, like its first itineraries.  There should be a lot of information released relatively soon, since the Wish is coming next year!  The wait is almost over!

Monday, February 22, 2021

My Family's Next Cruise

Earlier this month, I wrote about the Passenger Vessel Services Act and how it prevented my family from going on a back-to-back cruise.  While this was disappointing, my family didn't stop looking for cruises.  For school, the weird scheduling gives us a few days off at the beginning of November, so my siblings and I wouldn't miss much school if we go on a cruise that week.  It would be the perfect time for us to go on a cruise, if there's one we want to go on.  At that time, the Magic will be doing a 5-Night Bermuda cruise from New York to San Juan and a 4-Night Eastern Caribbean cruise from San Juan to Miami.  Those two cruises are the ones we tried to book but couldn't thanks to the law from the 1800s.  The Wonder will be doing a 5-Night Baja cruise from San Diego.  The Dream will be doing its normal 3-Night and 4-Night Bahamian cruises it does every week.  Finally, the Fantasy will be doing a normal 7-Night Eastern Caribbean cruise.  

All of those are pretty good options.  San Diego is a long way away from where we live, so getting there would be expensive.  We took the Wonder out of the picture.  We've done both a 3-Night cruise and a 4-Night cruise on the Dream, so we took those out as well.  We've done the 7-Night Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Fantasy, and while it would be fun to do it again, our most recent cruise was on the Fantasy.  Some of my family members, including myself, would like to go on another ship.

So what does that leave?  Those two cruises on the Magic.  If we could, we'd do them both, but we can't because of the Passenger Vessel Services Act.  The first one, the 5-Night Bermuda cruise from New York to San Juan, goes to Bermuda and Tortola and has two days at sea.  This cruise is a Halloween on the High Seas cruise, a type of cruise we've never done before.  Also, we'd be able to drive to New York City instead of spending more money on plane tickets.  The second one, the 4-Night Eastern Caribbean cruise from San Juan to Miami, goes to the Dominican Republic and Castaway Cay and has one day at sea.  This isn't a holiday cruise, just a normal repositioning cruise, and we'd have to fly there and back.

Which one did we choose?  The 5-Night Bermuda Cruise from New York to San Juan!  We chose this one because it's more exciting than the 4-Night.  Also, we only have to get a one way flight, from San Juan to home.  I'm looking forward to going to Bermuda, a place we haven't been to yet, and Tortola, a place we've been to a few times.  Last time we visited Tortola was on the Wonder in 2019.  We went on a Port Adventure to the Virgin Gorda, an island with some amazing sea caves.  We may do this again or try something completely new, we haven't looked at our options yet.  This cruise will be the first time we've done many things:  It'll be our first Halloween on the High Seas cruise, our first 5-Night cruise, our first cruise out of New York, our first repositioning cruise, and our first time going to Bermuda.  I can't wait!

This will be our second cruise on the Magic.  Our first Magic cruise was a 4-Night Bahamian cruise back in 2015.  Since then, the Magic has had some changes made to it, like the removal of Carioca's and the addition of Rapunzel's Royal Table, so it'll be interesting to see what's been changed.  It's not a new feature, but I want to ride the AquaDunk again.  Last time, I only rode it once and didn't like it.  I was much younger then, so I think I'll like it now.  I probably won't like it more than the AquaDuck, but it's possible.  We'll be staying in rooms 7072 and 7074.  These two Deluxe Oceanview Staterooms with Verandahs are between Midship and Aft, and they're on the Port side.  Deck 7 is a nice central location, with Deck 9 two decks above and Deck 5 two decks below.

As excited as I am for it, this cruise could get canceled by Disney.  I'm not sure if cruises will resume by October.  I hope they do, but it's possible they don't.  Also, Disney hasn't announced the health and safety restrictions that will be in place when cruises resume.  When they make the announcement, if my family and I think that the restrictions are going to detract from our enjoyment of the cruise, then we'll probably cancel this cruise and find another cruise.  

This cruise is less expensive than our 7-Night Western Caribbean cruise on the Fantasy that got canceled, so it doesn't use all of our 125% credit.  I don't know what we'll use the remainder for.  We have to use it before the cruise in October starts, or else it gets applied to our stateroom account.  If we don't use all of the credit on our stateroom account during the cruise, it's gone.  Hopefully the summer 2022 itineraries get announced soon so we can see what the Wish will be doing.  I'm probably the most excited person in my family for the Wish, and I'd really like to go on it.  Last year, the summer 2021 itineraries were announced in February, so the summer 2022 itineraries could be released any day now, so I'm excited to see what happens!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Wonder's Bigger Alaska Problem

Back in March of last year, I wrote about how the Wonder was affected by Canada's cruise ship ban that stopped all cruise ships carrying over 500 people from docking at Canadian ports until July.  It turns out I had nothing to worry about, since Disney cruises didn't resume by July.  But now, there's more of a problem.  Last week, Canada's government announced that they won't be letting any cruise ship carrying over 100 people into Canadian waters until February 28th, 2022, over a year from now.

Assuming that Disney cruises will resume by the time the Wonder starts its Alaskan cruises in 2021, the Wonder won't be able to do any of these cruises because they all start in Vancouver thanks to this ban.  Is there an alternative port for the Alaskan cruises to start from?  Let's look at where one of DCL's competitors, Royal Caribbean, starts their Alaskan cruises from for some options.

In addition to Vancouver, Royal Caribbean has some of its Alaskan cruises starting from Seward, Alaska.  Also, some start from Seattle, Washington.  Well, why not just have the Wonder's Alaskan cruises start from Seward or Seattle?  Seattle is really close to Vancouver, so it would probably be the better option.  Problem solved!

Unfortunately, it's not that easy.  It's not possible to start Alaskan cruises at either of those because of a US law from the 1800s.  This law, the Passenger Vessel Services Act, applies to all passenger ships that aren't registered in the US, which includes all four DCL ships.  On a cruise starting and ending at the same US port, ships not registered in the US must stop at a port in another country before coming back to the US port where the cruise started.  Disney's Alaskan cruises only go to ports in Alaska, in the US.  Since Canada isn't open, there aren't any other countries nearby that the Wonder could visit, so a cruise from Seattle to Alaska and back to Seattle would be impossible thanks to the Passenger Vessel Services Act.  The Royal Caribbean cruises from Seattle and Seward are possible because they visit Canada during them, but those cruises will have to be drastically changed or canceled because they can't go to Canada.  Canada is a critical part of any Alaskan cruise, not just Disney's.

Now, there is a possible solution to this problem, but I don't think it'll work.  Alaskan cruises from Seattle could be possible if the US government temporarily suspends the Passenger Vessel Services Act for Alaskan cruises.  If it gets suspended, ships on Alaskan cruises won't have to go to a port in another country, so a cruise starting from Seattle and only going to Alaskan ports would be possible.  Suspending the law would help Alaska's tourism and cruise industry, because at this point, it looks like the 2021 cruise season in Alaska is not going to happen.  I don't think this law will be suspended, but it would be great for Alaska if it does.

So, if this law doesn't get suspended and the Wonder can't do any Alaskan cruises this year, what will it do instead (if Disney has resumed cruising by then)?  In addition to Alaskan cruises, the Wonder also does some Mexican cruises that start from San Diego, California.  All of the Alaskan cruises could be changed into Mexican cruises.  Or, since Disney has already canceled the Wonder's Westbound Panama Canal cruise that would've been at the end of February, the Wonder could just not go through the canal.  Disney can't make any money off of that cruise, since there won't be any guests.  So, instead of wasting money on that, the Wonder could stay on the East Coast to do Caribbean cruises or Bahamian cruises.  There are plenty of options to do cruises shorter than seven nights there.  Could Disney make it into a second Dream?  

The Wonder is going to need major changes to its cruise schedule, but we can't forget about the other DCL ship that's going to Canada.  In October of this year, the Magic is scheduled to do a 6-night Canadian cruise from New York City.  This itinerary visits two ports in Canada, and the only other port it stops at is in Maine.  The main selling point of this cruise is Canada, and even if the Passenger Vessel Services Act gets suspended, it would only be able to go to one port of call, which is kind of boring.  I think this cruise will be changed into a Bermuda cruise.  It could either spend two days in Bermuda and have three days at sea, or it could spend three days in Bermuda and have two days at sea.  This cruise could also be changed into a Disney World cruise, one that starts in New York, goes south to Castaway Cay and Port Canaveral (where guests can easily go to Disney World since park admission is included in the cruise price), then back to New York.  If they keep it a 6-night cruise, the Magic will have to get from Florida to New York in one day at sea, which I think is possible, but I'm not sure.  

As of now, Disney hasn't said anything about what the Wonder or the Magic will do if cruises have resumed by the time they would go to Canada.  They have removed all of the Wonder's Alaskan cruises in 2021, but there's no official announcement yet.  They'll probably announce their plan in the near future, so be sure to check the Disney Cruise Line website for the latest information.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Why Can't We Do That?

Since Disney canceled our cruise that would've been in January of this year, my family has been looking for alternative cruise options to use our 125% cruise credit on.  We had a few pretty good options in mind, until last week, when we found the perfect option.  My school had just released the calendar for the 2021-2022 school year, and we use it to try to go on a cruise at a time where we miss as few days of school as possible.  For some reason at the beginning of November, there will be a 2-day school week, which totally isn't a waste of time.  This looked like the perfect time to go on a cruise, and we noticed that the Magic will be doing an interesting 5-night cruise during that week.  Starting from New York City, it will go to Bermuda, then to Tortola, and end up in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  My family has never been to Bermuda, and we love Tortola, so this cruise sounded great.  Repositioning cruises are often some of the least expensive Disney cruises, and since we have a 125% credit, we looked at what the Magic was doing after the New York to San Juan cruise.  Its next cruise will be a 4-night cruise that goes to the Dominican Republic, Castaway Cay, and ends in Miami.  Like the other one, it's a repositioning cruise, so it's less expensive than usual.  Since we'd be missing almost no school, we had the credit, and we wanted to try a back-to-back cruise, we decided that we would book both of them!

But we couldn't.

It wasn't because there weren't any rooms available.  There were plenty.  It wasn't because of COVID-19 restrictions controlling the length of a cruise.  According to the United States CDC, a single cruise can't be over 7-nights.  This restriction does not affect back-to-back cruises, however, so these cruises would be possible.

It was because going on these cruises back-to-back would violate the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886.  This nearly-135 year-old US law prevents ships that aren't registered in the US from bringing passengers from one US port to another US port.  Even though Disney is an American company, all four DCL ships are registered in the Bahamas.  Ever wonder why the back of each DCL ship says "Nassau"?

So, since the DCL ships are registered in the Bahamas and not the United States, they aren't allowed to bring passengers from one US port to another.  The only way they can bring passengers from one US port to another US port is if they stop at a distant foreign country.  Ports of call in Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, South America, Europe, and Asia (and Antarctica, I guess), count as distant foreign countries.  This is why the Wonder goes Columbia, a South American country, on its 14-night Panama Canal cruises, since none of the other places it visits count as distant foreign countries.

Under the Passenger Vessel Services Act, how can the second cruise, from San Juan to Miami (two US ports) work?  Although it's a US port, Puerto Rico is an exception from this law.  So, it's as if the cruise starts in a different country and ends in the United States, which is allowed.

Well, since the whole trip on the Magic is two separate cruises, wouldn't it be allowed under the law?  Unfortunately, it's not.  The law treats consecutive cruises as one trip.  Pretend San Juan, where the first cruise ends and the second cruise starts, is just a port of call.  The overall voyage would go from New York to Miami, two US ports, which isn't allowed.

The Passenger Vessel Services Act is why the Magic is stopping at San Juan.  If it could, I think the Magic would go directly from New York City to Miami, but that's not possible.  Since Puerto Rico is a US port exempt from the law, the Magic can go there, end a cruise, start a new cruise, and go to Miami.  For this to work, it has to be two separate cruises, not just one long one.

This law doesn't stop ships registered in other countries from leaving from a US port and returning to the same port.  Ships not registered in the US can bring passengers from a US port and back to the same US port as long as they visit any port in a different country, like the Bahamas, Canada, or Mexico.  Conveniently, it doesn't have to be a distant port.  Also, normal (non-repositioning) cruises can stop at US ports, as long as the passengers aren't permanently getting off there.  This is how some Disney cruises can go to Key West, Florida.  

When I heard that these cruises wouldn't work, I wondered why the Passenger Vessel Services Act even exists.  It was signed into law by Grover Cleveland, the 24th president of the US, to prevent cabotage, which I originally thought was when you sabotage a taxi.  Cabotage is actually the movement of cargo or people between two locations in the same country by a foreign party.  The Passenger Vessel Services Act makes more sense in the perspective of something like a ferry service between two US cities, keeping it domestic and not allowing ships from other countries to come in and make money off of it.  However, this law doesn't seem beneficial at all for a cruise ship.  It just gets in the way and makes cruises less flexible.  Plus, it may actually be hurting the cruise industry by not allowing customers like my family to go on some cruises.  

I'm really disappointed about the seemingly-perfect cruise not being possible.  I never would've thought a vacation my family was planning on going on wouldn't be able to happen because of a law from the nineteenth century.  The law against cabotage sabotaged our cruise plans.  I guess we'll just have to look for another cruise to go on.  

To learn about the Passenger Vessel Services Act, I used a really useful and educational page on the Carnival website.  I know, I'm a traitor, but since none of Carnival's ships are registered in the United States, it's in the same situation that Disney is.  Also, the Wikipedia article about it was a lot of help when I was writing.  Finally, if you're ever unsure if a back-to-back cruise is possible, calling DCL and asking about it is one of the best ways to get an answer.

Since it's so old, I'm sure my family and I weren't the first people to have plans ruined because of this law.  Even though it's not doing much good for the cruise industry, I don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon.  Maybe someday it will be revised to allow more freedom for cruises in the US.  Do you think requesting that on a DCL comment card would work?  It's Disney, so anything's possible!