Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Magic at Sea: It's Just the Magic, at Sea.

Back in February, Disney canceled all cruises on the Disney Magic until August 10th.  This was unfortunate, as the Magic would be missing out on the majority of the 2021 European cruise season, a very popular and profitable time for cruises.  Well, thanks to an announcement from last week, the Magic actually won't be missing most of the European season this year.  It'll just be a lot different than it normally is.

Last week, Disney announced Disney Magic at Sea, a special type of cruise that the Magic will be doing this summer.  The name gives a big hint about why these cruises are special.  They only go out to sea and don't visit any ports of call.  The Magic at Sea cruises will leave from four ports in the UK:  Newcastle, Southampton, Liverpool, and London Tilbury.  Disney will offer three duration options, 2-nights, 3-nights, and "limited" 4-nights.  They sound like fun, especially you aren't a fan of disembarking at ports.  However, there's a catch.  These cruises will only be available to residents of the UK.  Why?  By limiting these cruises to UK residents, DCL is eliminating the need to travel long distances to go on a cruise.  Also, the UK is an island country, which enables it to be more isolated than other countries.  This relative isolation helps to limit the spread of COVID-19.  Plus, as we'll see in a bit, this will help limit the number of people going on these cruises.  I don't live in the UK, and I know my family wouldn't want to move there just to go on a short cruise.

Disney hasn't announced a ton about their Magic at Sea cruises, but they did say that these cruises will be different than they have been in the past to keep everyone onboard healthy.  They'll be taking a 5-point approach to health and safety, and these points and more will probably be implemented when cruises resume fleetwide. The first point is Health & Wellness.  Face coverings and social distancing will be required, which I expected at this point.  Instead of giving out Castaway Club bags, Disney should give out masks to Castaway Club members on these cruises.  A way Disney could promote social distancing is by limiting elevators to one family at a time.  This would be pretty annoying, but there won't be any rushes to get down to Deck 1 to disembark at a port, so it's not a huge problem.  In addition to keeping people away from others, restricting the elevators would promote health by allowing guests to exercise as they go up and down the stairs instead of using the elevators.  Additionally, Disney will have health screenings and COVID-19 testing, but the site doesn't say anything about guests being required to get tested before boarding.  The Magic will be operating at a lower capacity as well.  Only opening these cruises to UK residents will help with the lower availability, since the low amount of people actually able to book these cruises means there'll be less demand.  The website doesn't say anything about requiring guests to have received a COVID-19 vaccine, so this probably means it's not mandatory.  

The second point is Cleaning & Disinfecting.  The Magic will be cleaned more frequently than it was before cruising got shut down.  The DCL ships were already cleaned really frequently, but now, even more cleaning will be done.  They'll emphasize cleaning in areas that are touched frequently, like elevator buttons and railings.  

The third point is Innovative Technology, and it involves the DCL Navigator app.  Disney says it'll be used to help keep people safe.  This could mean that the app will just have a message telling guests to be safe, but that doesn't seem very innovative.  To be more innovative, the app could be used to reserve activities on the ship, like seats at the theatres.  Things like theatre seats would be limited commodities because of social distancing restrictions, so using the app to reserve them would be helpful and convenient, if it works well.  An increased reliance on the app would need a reliable internet connection, so hopefully Disney upgraded the network technology on their ships during the pandemic.

Fourth is Crew Member Training.  By the time the Magic at Sea cruises start, the crew will be trained and knowledgeable about the safety protocols and restrictions that DCL will be following.  I'm sure all of them will help the guests stay aware of these protocols.  

The final point is Working Together.  Disney says they'll give their guests resources to help them get used to the new safety restrictions.  The website doesn't have much information about their health and safety protocols yet, but as the Magic at Sea cruises get closer, more information will surely be added.  This is good, because I really want to know how the youth clubs are going to work.

The rest of the website has information about the activities guests can do on the Magic at Sea cruises.  These appear to be just like what was available on cruises before they shut down.  There will be restrictions, but it's good to see that the overall experience will be similar.  Even with these restrictions, these Magic at Sea cruises will still be fun.  Although, probably not as much fun as a normal, unrestricted cruise.  

Interestingly, in the section about the Magic's live shows, it describes the musicals as "West End-quality", while elsewhere on the DCL website, musicals are described as "Broadway-style".  The West End is a theatre in London, and judging by the DCL website, it seems to be the UK equivalent of Broadway.  West End and Broadway even have some of the same shows, like The Lion King.  The Magic at Sea cruises are exclusive to UK residents, so of course Disney tailored the website to them.  

The Magic at Sea cruises will probably be less expensive than normal, pre-March 2020 Disney cruises.  The likely lower price will be due to the fact that these cruises are shorter than many of the cruises that DCL offers.  Plus, these cruises don't stop at any ports.  Whenever a cruise ship stops at a port of call, it has to pay certain fees and taxes.  These fees are included in the price guests pay for a cruise.  But the Magic at Sea cruises don't stop anywhere, so there aren't any port fees to pay.

The announcement of the Magic at Sea cruises got me thinking.  Could they do something like this in other places?  Could Wonder at Sea or Dream at Sea be possible?  Not from the US.  A cruise starting and ending in the same US port must stop at at least one port in a different country before returning to the US.  The UK doesn't have a law like this, so cruises that only go out to sea are possible from there.  A cruise like this from Canada couldn't work, either, because Canada's closed until next year.  That's too bad, because an Alaskan cruise from Vancouver or Seattle would be awesome, even without stops at ports.  A cruise from the Bahamas would be possible, as some cruise lines, like Crystal Cruises, are planning some for this summer.  They wouldn't have to deal with the restrictions and limitations implemented by the US, so it's a possibility.  

But as of now, I think the Magic will be the only DCL ship to have cruises over the summer.  We'll probably see another suspension extension announcement in the next few weeks regarding the Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy.  Also, the Magic at Sea page will be updated with more information regarding the cruises soon.  I have to say, I'm looking forward more to that update than the cancelation update.

The Magic at Sea website says that booking for these cruises will start at some point in April.  I'm excited to see how many of these cruises the Magic will be doing, pricing, and more information about the restrictions that will be in place.  All that should be announced when booking opens, so if you live in the UK and are interested in these cruises (or you're like me and just want to learn more about them when more is revealed), check the Magic at Sea website in April!

1 comment:

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