Disney Cruise Line Buys Partially Built Ship

Disney Cruise Line announced the acquisition of a partially completed new ship that will join the DCL fleet and sail to new global destinations. Disney will work with Meyer Werft to complete the cruise ship previously known as the Global Dream in Wismar, Germany. In this post, we share details and brief commentary about DCL adding yet another ship to its growing roster.

According to Disney Cruise Line, the Global Dream ship will be renamed with certain features reimagined under the expertise of Walt Disney Imagineers. The reimagined Global Dream is expected to set sail in 2025.

“Our cruise ships give us the unique opportunity to bring Disney magic to fans no matter where they are, and the addition of this ship will make a Disney Cruise Line vacation accessible to more families than ever before,” said Josh D’Amaro, chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.

The new ship will be based outside the United States, according to Disney Cruise Line. The reimagined Global Dream will feature typical DCL experiences including themed-entertainment, dining, and guest service that set Disney Cruise Line apart. The exterior will be adorned in the iconic, Mickey Mouse-inspired colors of the fleet, complete with signature red funnels.

The 208,000-gross-ton ship is expected to be among the first in the cruise industry to be fueled by green methanol, one of the lowest emission fuels available. Disney Cruise Line expects the passenger capacity to be approximately 6,000 plus around 2,300 crew members.

Construction on reimagining the Global Dream will be completed at the former MV Werften shipyard in Wismar, Germany, under the management of Meyer Werft, the Papenburg-based company that built the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wish. The Global Dream’s previous owner filed for bankruptcy before completing the vessel, and rumors have been swirling since then that Disney was in negotiations to purchase the partially-completed ship.

According to the company’s press release, this enabled Disney Cruise Line to secure it at a favorable price and within the capital expenditure guidance the Walt Disney Company provided on its recent earnings call. (This detail is actually in DCL’s press release–I’ve never seen something like this from Disney directed towards a consumer-facing audience.) The project also secures employment for hundreds of former MV Werften employees and will provide opportunities for numerous maritime industry suppliers in the region.

More details about the maiden voyage, itineraries and onboard experiences will be announced at a later date. Currently, the Disney Cruise Line fleet sails to destinations in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, Mexico, Canada, Hawaii and the South Pacific. Disney Cruise Line recently announced first-ever vacations for guests in Australia and New Zealand beginning in late 2023.

When the construction on the Global Dream stopped in early 2022, the 208,000 GT Global Dream was approximately 75% finished, with intentions of setting sail this year. The cruise ship measures 342 meters (1,122 feet) in length, and is to be the 6th largest cruise ship in the world when finished. (Suffice to say, the Global Dream is significantly larger than the existing DCL fleet.)

The Global Dream cruise ship was designed to carry up to 9,000 passengers in certain configurations. According to German media, the ship was to have 2,500 cabins, allowing it to sail with approximately 5,000 passengers with the industry standard of two per cabin. However, its total capacity could accommodate almost double that number. It’s unclear how DCL will reconfigure rooms to reach its 6,000 passenger number in the press release.

The ship was originally intended for the Asian market, and was intended for Genting Hong Kong before that company went bankrupt in January of this year. That’s the largest Asian cruise operator, and meant the end of operations for Dream Cruises, Star Cruises, and Crystal Cruises. Since then, both Dream and Crystal Cruises have resumed operations under new ownership.

As the Global Dream was originally intended for the Asian market, and was specifically built to sail within Asia, it was slated to have a number of features and amenities aimed at that audience. It’s unclear what, if anything, Disney Cruise Line will change about the Global Dream’s layout or lineup of amenities. The most notable of these is the world’s longest roller coaster at sea.

The Global Dream is the largest cruise ship to ever be constructed by passenger volume, but it has sat untouched in the shipyard in Germany since January of this year. Originally, it was expected to have difficulty finding a buyer outside the Asia market and there were rumors that it would be sold for scrap metal. (Seriously–a local politician said this to German media: “It is a very different picture psychologically if this large ship is finished in Wismar than if it were towed out there and scrapped somewhere in the world.”)

The Disney Cruise Line fleet currently consists of the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, and Disney Wish (which debuted this year). The sixth ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, the Disney Treasure, will set sail in 2024. Disney Cruise Line’s fleet will eventually grow to 8 cruise ships with the acquisition of the Global Dream and another Triton Class cruise ship on the way, which does not appear to be impacted by the acquisition of the Global Dream (presumably because it’s already been contracted-for?).

In terms of commentary, I don’t have much to add. My expertise is much more limited when it comes to the cruise industry, so I don’t really want to step outside my comfort zone and opine in ways that could be “wrong.” I will say that this seems like a lot of expansion for Disney Cruise Line all at once, and without seeing the actual market appetite for more of its ships. (It’s one thing to have surveys and internal projections about consumer demand and brand power–it’s another entirely to commit to building ships.)

From that perspective, the approach to DCL fleet expansion doesn’t seem consistent with Disney’s normal methodical decision-making process. I thought that before with the announcement of the three new ships all at once, and this only reinforces that in a very large way. Perceptions of cruising could change with younger generations, and there seems to be a tremendous amount of industry-wide expansion occurring in response to Baby Boomer demand–but that audience won’t be the primary demographic for cruising much longer.

This is not the normal conversation about pent-up demand or a potential recession. I also don’t think it’s particularly relevant that the Disney Wish has already been offering discounts, as the current climate is still very far from normal for cruising. What’s happening right now or even in the next 2-3 years doesn’t really matter. These ships are coming online a few years from now and are being built for decades. It’s long term trends, demographics, and industry-wide competition (and perception of cruising) that truly matters. Near-term circumstances are nothing more than noise.

But again, I don’t know much about the cruise business and its future. This could be totally off-base, and cruising could become more popular than ever with Millennials and younger generations. Regardless, it seems the industry has entered a phase of less-than measured growth without a high degree of certainty what the landscape (or seascape?) will look like a decade from now.

As for the ship itself, it is quite large and seems at odds with the existing Disney Cruise Line product. However, if it’s intended to sail exclusively in Asia and have little-to-no overlap with the current DCL ships, that might not really matter. While we fans tend to fixate on this stuff, the practical reality is that the vast majority of consumers never see what’s outside of their home market.

To that point, Shanghai Disneyland is very different from the typical castle park, but it’s uncommon to see comparisons between Walt Disney World and Shanghai Disneyland (unlike the Disneyland v. WDW debate, which is neverending) because few fans have experienced both. In the real world, they simply aren’t competing–or even complementary–products.

Outside of the .0001% of super fans, most consumers will not experience both. The same logic likely applies to the Global Dream as compared to the Disney Wish and other current cruise ships. Then again, I think the Disney Wish is already the Shanghai Disneyland of DCL, so it’ll be interesting to see just how much the reimagined Global Dream deviates from the familiar formula of Disney Cruise Line.

Regardless of all this, Disney’s acquisition of the Global Dream is incredibly fascinating to me. It seems like a move that is atypical of the company, and much more aggressive than what we’ve seen in recent years from the Parks & Resorts segment. That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing on its own–it all depends upon the underlying rationale of the decision and execution thereof. It’ll be really fascinating to watch how this plays out, both in the next few years with the reimagining of the Global Dream, and in the long-term with Disney Cruise Line as a whole. We’ll keep you posted!

Planning to set sail aboard one of the DCL ships? Read our comprehensive Disney Cruise Line Guide to prepare for your voyage, plus plan entertainment, activities & excursions, and learn what to expect from your Disney cruise! For personalized planning & recommendations, click here to get a cruise quote from a no-fee Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. They can find you all of the current discounts, and help you plan the details of your cruise!


What do you think about Disney Cruise Line acquiring the partially-completed Global Dream ship? Think this is a good addition to the fleet or at-odds with the existing ships? Confident that Imagineering can transform this into a ‘Distinctly Disney’ (Cruise Line) ship, or think it’ll stick out from the rest? Thoughts on DCL’s plans for growth and expansion? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

13 Responses to “Disney Cruise Line Buys Partially Built Ship”
  1. Adam November 17, 2022
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