There will soon be four different ways to bid "bon voyage" on the high seas through Disney
It's about time, really.
"Bob Iger's main objective should be to plant new exclamation points in all of Disney's operating divisions," I wrote two years ago. "Even though the theme parks will get a boost from the chainwide Disneyland anniversary celebration this year, he needs to sprinkle around some pixie dust like it's brown sugar at a churro cart. Offer more e-tickets. Create more quality family attractions. Flesh out the two newest Disney domestic theme parks into full-day locations. Double the fleet of Disney's two cruise ships -- which are pure class -- and take advantage of the growing number of available ports."
I nailed it? Well, not exactly. Everyone knows that Disney was itching to add to its cruising business. It was already stretching its Disney Magic and Disney Wonder thin by keeping one in Florida while the other went off on West Coast and European itineraries. Earlier this month, Disney noted that it was simply waiting for it to become economical to order the boats.
However, with the perpetually tanking dollar making that an unlikely near-term possibility with European shipbuilders, it's great to see Disney finally smarten up and take the plunge.
Don't be waiting with a bottle of champagne to christen the new boats anytime soon. They won't be ready to set sail until 2011 and 2012. That will give Disney plenty of time to figure out where to position itself. Despite industry-thumping load factors, Disney doesn't really need more than two ships out of its Port Canaveral home port. One of the older ships will probably be sent to California, with the other heading off to serve the Mediterranean and Asian markets before heading south for the winter.
Disney's in a sweet spot here. Carnival's
This morning's press release claims that its cruises generate a 95% "excellent or very good" satisfaction rating, and I believe it. I try to take the family on a Disney cruise every other year and the prospect of even larger ships has me counting the days until 2011.
Yes, these new boats will be 47% larger than the original ships. With two more decks, one has to believe that Disney will start nibbling away at some of the latest features offered on RCL and NCL boats, like bowling alleys, skating rinks, and waterpark areas.
We'll see what Disney does with a bigger easel. Even if you're a landlubber, there must be some way to get you out there.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz can probably rattle off the daily activities on the Magic and Wonder down to the minute. He owns shares in Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.