On Thursday, February 3, 2022, Disney Cruise Line announced that the completion of its latest and largest ship yet, the Disney Wish, would be delayed once again. And the news got this reporter wondering: could Disney be making design alterations for a permanent pandemic-era cruising experience?
The first of three new “Triton-Class” cruise ships planned for the fleet, construction of the Disney Wish already faced delay once due to the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, and it appears that the omicron variant is to blame for the further delay.
According to the Orlando Sentinel,
Disney Wish was originally supposed to be handed over to the line in December 2021 and make a January debut this year, but that was before the onset of the worldwide pandemic. The latest delay falls partly on how the omicron variant hit the shipyard in the last couple of months during what the cruise line stated was a “critical point in the production process.”
Read More: Disney Cruise Line Delays Launch of the ‘Disney Wish’
Corporate and government reactionary measures to the spread of the coronavirus have taken a toll on production in general, especially in terms of the available labor force at the shipyard, and Disney revealed that a majority of the Wish‘s experiences still require a lot of Disney Imagineering.
The Sentinel states:
Disney’s timeline including the completion of many planned high-tech features cooked up by Disney Imagineering on board may mean a longer period before the ship will be ready for customers… Still in the works, though, are the installation of the ship’s signature water ride attraction on the top deck, the AquaMouse…Two more spaces that require intense behind-the-scenes work are the Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge and the the Worlds of Marvel restaurant with interactive show “Avengers: Quantum Encounter.”
The Wish is also set to feature unique restaurants and an interactive kids’ space called The Oceaneer Club.
But all of these fun interactive experiences were finalized before the pandemic caused Disney and much of the world to shut down and limit interactions and experiences. Could Disney Cruise Line be electing to spend extra time on all of its onboard experiences to add permanent pandemic-era protocol?
It should be noted that neither the Disney Cruise Line nor The Walt Disney Company has made any sort of intentional statement to confirm or deny such a decision. However, looking at the decisions both entities have made based on lingering “health and safety protocols,” this reporter can’t help but wonder if that is the case.
As we get closer to the second anniversary of the worldwide Disney Parks closure, scores of Disney’s “normal” experiences are still missing, and despite the CDC no longer enforcing its conditional sailing order, Disney Cruise Line remains hard-nosed on COVID policies. Disney Cruise Line began 2022 by requiring passengers as young as five years old to be vaccinated in order to board the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Fantasy, and Disney Dream. Face coverings are still required, Hong Kong Disneyland has shuttered once again, and Disneyland Paris might soon adopt a “vaccine pass” policy.
In this reporter’s humble opinion, no return to normal seems to be in sight. Only time will tell if these suspicions were correct, but it would make sense for a company with no intention of returning to pre-pandemic life to solidify its “new normal” restrictions into the very Imagineering of this new ship.