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Old 05-14-2004, 01:17 PM   #1
Jennifer and Dave
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DCL West Coast Cruises

We delayed publication of the second edition of PassPorter’s Field Guide to the Disney Cruise Line in hopes of including this news, but we ultimately had to settle for speculation (see page 29, The Future of the Disney Cruise Line). Finally, on May 5 in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, we received the official word (although the story was leaked by the Associated Press two days earlier).

The Disney Magic will temporarily relocate to California from May 14 through September 3, 2005 to be part of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. While in California, it will offer 7-night “Mexican Riviera” itineraries, sailing from the port of San Pedro (home of the old Queen Mary and host to Los Angeles’ only cruise terminal). Afterward, the Magic will return to Florida to resume its regular schedule. We also held out hope that the big May 5 announcements might include word of a new Disney ship (or ships), but that was not to be. For now, Disney Cruise Line will continue to be a two-ship operation.

The West Coast schedule includes 12 seven-night, Saturday-to-Saturday itineraries featuring visits to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas (plus three glorious days at sea), and two, 14-night “repositioning” cruises between Port Canaveral and California, via the Panama Canal.

We asked the cruise line’s director of marketing, Jim Alessandro, why Disney chose seven-night sailings, rather than the Land/Sea itineraries offered to Walt Disney World guests. He told us that the decision was guest-driven – seven-night itineraries were preferred by the guests they polled, in order to visit their desired ports. The Land/Sea option is still available, though. Guests can add a Disneyland Resort stay to the front and/or back of their cruise, with ground transfers included. Disney ground transportation will also be available between Los Angeles International Airport and the cruise terminal.

We also tried to pin Mr. Alessandro down on specifics for the cruises. Would the Magic visit some sort of private island, like Castaway Cay? “No.” Might there be a special “private beach” available at one or more of the ports for Disney cruisers? He couldn’t comment. What shore excursions may be offered? “That information will be released in the spring,” (presumably 60 days prior to sailing). He did hint that there could be special shows and other surprises, but again, he couldn’t say more about what they might be. What we can count on is Disney Cruise Lines’ familiar rotation dining and top-flight entertainment. Finally, might the Most Magical Celebration on Earth theme be incorporated into DCL’s regular Caribbean sailings? “That’s still to be determined, but it is likely.”

Between West Coast Disney fans awaiting their first chance to sail, and veteran Disney cruisers hungry for new ports, pre-announcement “buzz” for the West Coast itineraries was deafening. While travel agents were prohibited from making actual reservations until the grand announcement on May 5, many had assembled waiting lists of customers. The rush for reservations on May 5 resembled “rope drop” at Magic Kingdom on a holiday weekend. We heard reports of six-hour waits to reach a reservation agent. Further, cruise rates, which are set by the level of customer demand, quickly skyrocketed as staterooms were booked. The gradually-rising rates we usually see on a typical sailing were telescoped into a few days of frenzied, Wall Street-style bidding. Reportedly, reservations on many of the sailings are already hard to get, or fully-booked. Don’t lose hope, though. It’s likely that many people grabbed reservations “on spec,” and that some staterooms will become available as some of these folks cancel. Some travel agents are undoubtedly holding some reservations, too (although even these pros had trouble getting a hold of them).

Now, some of you may be curious as to the specifics of the cruise itineraries. Here goes:

Seven-night sailings depart Los Angeles every Saturday from May 28 to August 20, 2005
Saturday – Depart Los Angeles
Sunday & Monday – At Sea
Tuesday – Puerto Vallarta
Wednesday – Mazatlán
Thursday Cabo San Lucas
Friday – At Sea
Saturday – Return to Los Angeles

14-Night Panama Canal Itineraries
Saturday May 14 – Depart Port Canaveral Florida
Sunday – Castaway Cay
Monday & Tuesday – At Sea
Wednesday – Curacao
Thursday – At Sea
Friday – Panama Canal
Saturday – At Sea
Sunday – Puerto Quetzal
Monday – At Sea
Tuesday – Acapulco
Wednesday – At Sea
Thursday – Cabo San Lucas
Friday – At Sea
Saturday May 28 – Arrive Port of Los Angeles

Saturday August 20 – Depart Port of Los Angeles
Sunday – At Sea
Monday – Cabo San Lucas
Tuesday – At Sea
Wednesday – Acapulco
Thursday – At Sea
Friday – Puerto Quetzal
Saturday – At Sea
Sunday – Panama Canal
Monday – At Sea
Tuesday – Curacao
Wednesday & Thursday – At Sea
Friday – Castaway Cay
Saturday September 3 – Arrive Port Canaveral

Wow! Each of those 14-night sailings includes seven days at sea. That’s what we call a vacation!

Well, that’s all the cruise news we have for now, but hang in there, and watch for update pages for our Disney Cruise Line guide in the weeks and months to come.
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Old 05-14-2004, 04:59 PM   #2
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Re: DCL West Coast Cruises

I am so upset that this is happening. We planned on our Cruise to take place in 2005. An Eastern 7-day so we could enjoy it again! We wouldn't dream doing it from the West Coast, without a stop at Castaway Cay. HOpefully since Disneyland is celebrating their birthday until December 2006, they won't put THE MAGIC back out West in the Summer of 2006.
Thanks for listening to me vent!
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Old 05-15-2004, 01:16 PM   #3
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Re: DCL West Coast Cruises

Maybe if they do pull the Magic or Wonder back over to CA for sumemr 2006, the remaining ship out of FL will be able to do 3, 4 and 7 day alternating itineraries.
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