Disney Launches First New Cruise Ship In a Decade, Takes a Trip Into the Metaverse

Bob Chapek, the Chief Executive, introduced Walt Disney Co’s first-ever new 4,000-passenger cruise vessel in about a decade on Wednesday. The introduction of Disney Wish is indeed Chapek’s bright spot.

Chapek was announced as Disney’s CEO in 2020 around February and secured a three-year-long contract extension on Tuesday following recent controversies that had sparked queries regarding his tenure.

It took over six years to get the 144,000-ton Wish to the market, Chapek declared to guests during a christening ceremony, which also featured fireworks and appearances by Chewbacca, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Ant-Man, and other such characters from Disney’s portfolio.

Chapek mentioned that we combine amazing stories and characters with next-gen technology to build new experiences on the vessel.

The cruise business is a part of Disney’s well-known theme parks, experiences, and products unit, which has rebounded from COVID-19-related closures. Operating income touched a whopping $4.2 billion in the first half of fiscal 2022, reversing a loss of about $535 million a year before.

Disney Cruise Ship
Image for representation purpose only

Disney does not discuss how much earnings cruises contribute. Still, Chapek mentioned in November that the business had received a double-digit return on its investments, given the price that Disney charges.

Josh D’Amaro, the chairman of Disney’s parks division, said that The Wish — the fifth vessel in Disney’s fleet- successfully kicked off the most remarkable expansion in the firm’s cruise line history. Two more will be delivered by 2025.

The new cruise ship sets sail as the industry strives to lure customers again after a 15-month closure during the ongoing pandemic.

The Cruise Lines International Association had estimated that it could take until 2023 for passenger volume to surpass the levels observed in 2019 when almost 29.7 million people boarded vessels worldwide.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that COVID-19 rapidly spreads between humans nearby on ships and that vaccinated passengers may also get infected.

D’Amaro said that he thought Disney’s cruise line would return to total capacity, noting significant booking gains. He also added that the ship complements all that the firm does. For instance, people who will come aboard the ship will spend three days at the Walt Disney World.

The firm is seeking vacationers to the Disney Wish with the first attraction at sea — the AquaMouse. The theme-park-like ride also includes short films that feature Mickey and other popular characters while guests float through the 760-feet coiled tubes that are suspended over the upper decks.

Dining experiences place families inside Marvel’s Avengers and “Frozen”. For adults, Disney launched a Star Wars-themed hyperspace lounge, which evokes the appearances of star cruisers featured in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

The ship gives an interactive and immersive experience that clubs the digital and physical worlds. A Disney Cruise Line app turns users’ phones into a virtual “spyglass” to peer at constellations during the night (which appear as Pixar and Disney characters) and embark on adventures.

The interactive game is a step toward Chapek’s dream of establishing its unique presence in the metaverse. The executive advocated virtual experiences to keep users connected to Disney’s characters and its stories in between park visits and movie releases.

The Disney Wish will embark on its first voyage on 14 July from Florida’s Port Canaveral.

Disney has been part of the controversy in the state after the firm opposed legislation restricting LGBTQ discussions in schools. That has, in turn, prompted state lawmakers to pass a measure that discards the firm’s self-governing status for Walt Disney World in Orlando, though it has not been implemented yet.

Disney employees had urged the firm to speak up against the LGBTQ legislation, which opponents call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

References: Reuters, The Points Guy

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