Disney Cruise Line will soon own one of the world’s biggest cruise ships after surprise purchase

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Disney Cruise Line will soon own one of the world’s largest cruise ships — in what could be a play at breaking into the fast-growing Asian travel market.

The Florida-based cruising arm of tourism giant Disney announced late Wednesday that it was buying a massive, half-finished ship that was until recently under construction for Asia-based Dream Cruises.

Construction of the vessel, which was to be called Global Dream, was halted earlier this year after Dream Cruises collapsed along with sister brands Star Cruises and Crystal Cruises.

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The three cruise lines were owned by Asia-based Genting Hong Kong, which went out of business.

Disney said it would work with Germany’s Meyer Werft shipyard to complete the vessel, which was being built with specific venues designed to appeal to Asian families.

The line didn’t say where it would deploy the ship, but it said in a press release that the vessel would bring Disney’s style of cruise vacations to “new global destinations.”

It also said the vessel, which will be renamed, would be based outside of the United States.

“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 of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, in a statement accompanying the announcement.

Designed to be 208,000 tons, Global Dream would be the world’s seventh-biggest cruise ship if it debuted today. But it was being built to hold a record-breaking 9,000 passengers.

Related: The 5 best destinations you can visit on a Disney cruise

The large passenger count was being made possible by packing in a lot of cabins on the ship that could hold families of four.

In its announcement, Disney said the vessel would hold just 6,000 passengers, implying that the ship’s cabin configurations would be redesigned.

Both the size of the vessel and its projected passenger count are far bigger than what is typical for a Disney ship. The line’s five vessels range in size from 83,969 tons to 144,000 tons. They hold at most around 4,000 passengers.

Related: The ultimate guide to Disney Cruise Line  

Among the vessel features of Global Dream that were being specifically designed for the Asian market was a massive one-and-a-half-deck casino. Until now, Disney has not had casinos on any of its five vessels.

In its announcement, Disney said its designers, known as Imagineers, would work with Meyer Werft to add Disney-themed features to the ship. Once completed, the vessel will have “innovative Disney experiences along with the dazzling entertainment, world-class dining and legendary guest service that set Disney Cruise Line apart,” the line said.

Disney also said the exterior of the ship would be adorned in the iconic Mickey Mouse-inspired colors of the fleet, complete with the line’s signature red funnels.

The purchase of a half-finished ship originally slated for another cruise brand is a notably unusual move for Disney. The company likes to control the design and construction process of its resorts both on land and sea from the moment of their conception.

That said, Disney Cruise Line is in expansion mode. The brand already has two more new vessels on order for delivery in 2024 and 2025. The ships will be sisters to the line’s recently unveiled Disney Wish.

Disney noted that the revamped Global Dream wouldn’t be ready to sail until 2025.

The ship will be completed at the former MV Werften shipyard in Wismar, Germany, where it originally was under construction, under the management of Meyer Werft. Meyer Werft has built three of Disney’s five existing vessels.

The line said more details about the ship’s itineraries and onboard experiences would be announced at a later date.

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