BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Disney Cruise Line plans to have a “test sailing” out of Port Canaveral, departing Saturday afternoon, as a key step toward Disney resuming operations with paying passengers from U.S. ports, News 6 partner Florida Today reports.
Saturday’s sailing will be on the Disney Dream, and would be the first such cruise activity out of Port Canaveral since March 2020, as cruising had been idled since then by the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is an important milestone for the safe restart of cruising,” Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray said Friday.
“We continue to work closely with our cruise partners, and are proud of our collective efforts to get this business up and running once again at our port,” Murray added.
The Dream is scheduled to arrive at Port Canaveral’s Cruise Terminal 8 at 6 a.m. Saturday and depart at 4 p.m.
Having a test sailing — also known as a simulation cruise — is one way cruise lines can get Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearance to sail with paying passengers.
The two-night sailing will include about 300 volunteer Disney Cruise Line employees and their guests.
Canaveral Port Authority Chairman Wayne Justice said he is pleased about the latest development.
“For so many months, we’ve been working in close collaboration with all of our cruise partners to get cruising back in business from our port,” Justice said. “The cruise lines have developed new procedures to meet the CDC’s requirements, and these simulated or ‘test’ sailings are part of that process to test their new protocols.”
Justice said he is “very proud of our port and the role we play. Our commitment to the safe restart to cruising remains unwavering. We will do our part to help our cruise partners provide a safe, healthy and fun experience for their guests.”
A previously scheduled test sailing of the Dream — that was to depart on June 29 — was canceled. The ship would have carried about 300 Disney Cruise Line employees, playing the role of “passengers,” on a two-night cruise.
That cruise was canceled after, during routine testing, five out of nearly 600 crew members on the Dream tested positive for COVID-19. All were vaccinated, asymptomatic, and had tested negative multiple times beforehand.
The crew members were tested again the following day, following discussions with the CDC, and were found to be negative for COVID-19.
Disney has not yet announced when it will resume sailing with paying passengers from U.S. ports.
Cruise ships have not sailed out of Port Canaveral with paying passengers since March 2020 because of the pandemic.
The first such cruise from Port Canaveral as sailing resumes is scheduled July 31 on Carnival Cruise Line’s newest and largest ship, the Mardi Gras.
The Disney Dream — with a capacity of 4,000 passengers — is one of four ships in the current Disney fleet. It entered service in 2011, joining Disney Magic (maiden voyage in 1998) and Disney Wonder (maiden voyage in 1999), and followed by the Disney Fantasy (maiden voyage in 2012). A fifth ship, the Disney Wish, is scheduled to join the fleet in 2022, sailing from Port Canaveral.
Pre-pandemic, the Dream and the Fantasy were based year-round at Port Canaveral.
The Disney Magic this week began sailing from four ports in England — Liverpool, London/Tilbury, Newcastle and Southampton — on “staycation” cruise open only to passengers from the United Kingdom. It has scheduled two-, three- and a few four-night cruises.