History of Disney Cruise Line

Hmm ever heard of Magical Cruise Company Limited?   This is the legal name of the Disney Cruise Line, it is incorporated in the UK and cruise ships are registered in the Bahamas. Operational Headquarters for DCL are in Celebration, FL.

Honeymoon Cruise 3

Disney Magic and The Big Red Boat

In the 1980’s Disney started paying attention to the cruise industry, but wasn’t ready for the expense of building their own ships.   So in 1985, Disney partnered with Premier Cruise Line to provide seven night land and sea vacations on the Big Red Boat.   This was a happy partnership for 8 years until 1993 when Premier announced that it would be removing the Disney characters and would start a new license agreement with Warner Brothers.   Disney quickly contacted both Carnival and Royal Caribbean to replace the exclusive land and sea deal; these talks did not prove to be successful.   This was a blessing in disguise, and in 1994 Disney announced that it would create its own cruise line.

After the announcement Disney commissioned two ships to be built at Fincantieri in Italy.   These ships would go on to become the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.

Disney cruise line was officially born in 1998 with the launch of the Disney Magic.   July 30th 1998 a day I will remember well as my wife and I would board the ship for our honeymoon on the maiden voyage of the Disney Magic.   Stepping on board was breathtaking for both of us.   Disney quality showed through with a beautiful ship that was so clean you could eat off the floors.  It was a bit ironic as we pulled into Nassau, Bahamas and docked alongside the Big Red Boat (picture earlier in this article).

Honeymoon Cruise 2

Our Amazing Servers

As with any industry that Disney enters, they re-Imagineered family cruising, one change was the introduction of rotating dining.  This allows the guest to visit each of the ships restaurants while maintaining the same serving staff.   This was an innovative concept at the time and we loved it as we still do today.   To top it off, Disney also added its own island to the cruises.   Disney purchased a 99-year land lease of a Bahamian Island called Gorda Cay which they renamed Castaway Cay.   Find a bit of history on the island landing strip here.

Today Disney Cruise Line has now grown to 4 Ships with destinations all around the world including Alaska, Bahamas, Caribbean, Europe, and the Pacific Coast.

  • Disney Magic – July 1998
  • Disney Wonder – August 1999
  • Disney Dream – January 2011
  • Disney Fantasy – March 2012

What is your favorite ship and destination?


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  • You were on the maiden voyage of the Disney Magic?! How cool! And I love that photo of the Magic next to the Big Red Boat! Thanks for sharing this great history with us!