Micky Arison's Carnival Cruise Lines has another Mickey with a cruise empire about to encroach on its turf. Mickey Mouse that is. Disney Cruise Line has announced that beginning later this year, it will be sail ships out of the Port of Miami for the first time.
Disney will move its 1,754-passenger Wonder from her current port in Los Angeles to the Port of Miami in December. Disney cruise ships have long exclusively sailed out of Florida from Port Canaveral, and while the company says it's happy with Canaveral, it's looking to expand. Miami not only puts cruise ships closer to several destinations in the Caribbean but also gives Disney a better foothold in the Latin American market, particularly among Brazilian tourists.
"The proximity of Miami to a number of destinations gives you a cruise product that has a lot of richness in a four- or five-day itinerary," Disney President Karl Holz tells USA Today. "It's that much closer to Grand Cayman and Cozumel."
Another possible reason for the move: The violence in western Mexico, a popular destination for California-based cruises, has turned some tourists away. The new Disney cruises out of Miami will instead visit Mexico's eastern coast.
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USA Today reports that the Wonder will take the following trips in its first Miami season:
--The Disney Wonder's new sailings out of Miami will kick off on Dec. 23 with one six-night and one seven-night trip to the Caribbean. The ship then will operate two dozen four- and five-night Bahamas and Western Caribbean cruises in early 2012 on three different routes:
-- A five-night itinerary with stops in Cozumel, Mexico and Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas (Departure dates: Jan. 5 and 19; Feb. 2 and 16; March 2, 16 and 30; April 13 and 27).
-- A five-night itinerary with stops in Grand Cayman and Cozumel (Departure dates: Jan. 14 and 28; Feb. 11 and 25; March 11 and 25; April 8 and 22).
-- A four-night itinerary with stops in Key West, Fla.; Nassau, Bahamas; and Castaway Cay (Departure dates: Jan. 10 and 24; Feb. 7 and 21; March 7 and 21; April 4 and 18; and May 2).
Disney Cruise Line had been rumored to announce an expansion to South Florida, and several observers thought Mickey might dock in Port Everglades, but it appears the mouse is ready to move in on the port dominated by Carnival and Royal Caribbean.