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Disney to Expand Asian Cruises with Ship Built for Japanese Market

Disney Wish cruise ship
Disney Wish began sailing from Port Canaveral in 2022 (DCL)

Published Jul 9, 2024 4:22 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

As part of the ongoing expansion of Disney’s cruise and entertainment operations, a licensing deal was announced today with the operator of Tokyo Disneyland and the Tokyo Disney Resort to launch a new, year-round Disney-branded cruise ship in Japan. Oriental Land Co will build and operate the ninth Disney cruise ship under a licensing agreement.

The Oriental Land Company, which has a 20-plus year relationship with Disney having opened Tokyo Disneyland in 1983 reports it has decided to enter into the cruise business in Japan. It has concluded an agreement with Disney and contracted with Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany to build a cruise ship based on the Disney Wish class. The company expects to invest approximately $2 billion into the project and start cruise operations from the Tokyo area by early 2029.

"Disney Cruise Line has ambitious plans to bring family vacations and Disney storytelling to more guests around the world than ever before," said Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney Experiences. "We are thrilled to continue the success of this expansion as we collaborate with Oriental Land Co. to introduce another distinctly Disney vacation experience to families and fans in Japan."

The ship will be based on the Disney Wish (140,000 gross tons) which entered service in 2022 and the sisterships Disney Treasure, due to delivery later this year, and the Disney Destiny which recently began construction in Germany. Disney will be responsible for the designs created by Walt Disney Imagineering to feature many guest-favorite venues and experiences with select modifications specially designed for Japanese guests. Like the first three ships of the class, it will be powered by liquefied natural gas. 

The ship will have approximately 1,250 passenger cabins with accommodations for approximately 4,000 passengers. During a press briefing in Tokyo, Oriental Land said it expects to carry about 400,000 guests annually and reach sales of about 100 billion yen ($620 million) a year. The cruise ship will be registered in Japan, making it the largest-ever Japanese passenger ship. Initial plans call for two-to-four-night cruises. They will consider longer, international destination cruises for the future.

The order at the Meyer yard in Papenburg comes as the yard is seeking government support for a financial bailout. The yard, which has a solid orderbook, is facing a financial shortfall due to cost increases in materials and the financing structure of cruise ship construction orders. Last week, the company agreed to terms of a restructuring and job cuts with Germany's powerful labor unions as talks began with the federal government on loan guarantees. 

Disney reported that the expansion in Japan is part of a 10-year, $60 billion expansion of Disney's theme parks and cruise business. One of the key focuses is in Asia where Disney also plans to launch another cruise ship, Disney Adventure, sailing year-round from Singapore on three- and four-night cruises beginning in 2025. 

The Singapore-based cruise ship is being completed in Germany in a project also being overseen by Meyer Werft. Disney Cruise Line acquired from the bankruptcy of MV Werften the incomplete Global Dream cruise ship that was being built for Genting Hong Kong. The cruise line recently revealed the first design modifications to make the ship part of the Disney fleet. The ship will have seven uniquely themed areas including an open-air imagination garden. The Disney Adventure will be the company’s largest cruise ship at approximately 208,000 gross tons with accommodations for approximately 6,700 passengers and around 2,500 crewmembers.

The other two cruise ships currently under construction in Germany will both be deployed for the U.S.-based portion of the cruise line.