Disney Wonder tries out cruise line’s potential new home at Port Everglades

·3 min read

An unusual sight is greeting locals and tourists at Port Everglades: The familiar Mickey Mouse ears and Disney signature logos grace the side of the cruise ship Disney Wonder in the port’s southern section.

What’s it doing here?

It’s not establishing squatters rights ahead of Disney Cruise Line’s hoped-for plan to use Port Everglades as a home base beginning in 2023.

It’s not part of a return-to-cruising marketing strategy by the global entertainment giant Walt Disney Company.

And Disney isn’t using our port as a backdrop for the lamest Pirates of the Caribbean sequel yet.

Port Everglades spokeswoman Ellen Kennedy says the ship moved here recently from PortMiami, where it had been waiting out the pandemic-induced cruise-industry shutdown.

It was moved here temporarily because its normal spot at PortMiami was needed for a Royal Caribbean ship that’s housing first responders working at the Surfside condominium collapse site, Kennedy said.

Nevertheless, the ship is unintentionally serving as an 83,000-ton, 11-deck billboard for Disney Cruise Line’s possible year-round presence in the Fort Lauderdale area.

Disney Wonder is now docked at Terminal 26, across from the Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park. On Saturday it will move north to Terminal 4.

Its current visit won’t last long, Kennedy says.

The ship is scheduled to head to San Diego for a two-night cruise to Baja California on Sept. 24 to 26, according to the cruise line’s website. After that, it’s off to Galveston, Texas, for twice-weekly voyages to Cozumel, Mexico.

Which Disney ship will call Fort Lauderdale home is not yet known.

In an April 26 letter seeking authorization to negotiate a berth and terminal agreement with Broward County and Port Everglades, the cruise line said it was looking for a new homeport for a 3,500-passenger ship as three new ships, powered by liquified natural gas, enter the company’s fleet by 2025.

Port Canaveral, 60 miles east of Disney’s famous Central Florida theme parks, has been home to Disney Cruise Line since 1998. Two ships — Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy — currently operate at that port, southeast of Kennedy Space Center. This year, Port Canaveral became the first U.S. port capable of fueling docked ships with liquified natural gas, which is more environmentally friendly than the heavy fuel oil and marine gas oil that power most cruise ships operating today.

PortMiami has hosted Disney ships on a seasonal basis, while they’ve only docked with passengers at Port Everglades when Port Canaveral has been shut down during hurricanes.

In June, the Broward County Commission voted to allow Disney Cruise Line to negotiate a home port contract with Port Everglades for use of Terminal 4 and its adjacent berth, which had been used by Carnival Cruise Line prior to the pandemic. A deal has been negotiated but is under review by attorneys from both sides, Kennedy said. Final approval is expected after the commission returns from its summer break.

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