ORLANDO, Florida – Port Canaveral, the cruise terminal serving Orlando and the world's second busiest after PortMiami, will temporarily lose one of its major cruise lines after the coronavirus pandemic prompted Disney Cruise Lines to announce that it will suspend all sailings beginning Saturday and effective through the end of March. Eight cruises will be canceled as a result.
But one last Disney cruise will launch from Cruise Terminal 8 before the cruise line halts operations: According to the cruise ship-tracking site CruiseMapper.com, the Disney Dream is set to depart Friday for a 3-day sailing to Castaway Cay, the company's private island in the Bahamas.
The Disney Fantasy, which is also based out of Port Canaveral, is due back on Saturday morning, but its next cruise, scheduled to leave Saturday afternoon, will not sail.
Disney Cruise Line said it was suspending service "in an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our guests and employees."
Coronavirus cruise cancellations: Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line suspend operations
"While we know this decision may be disappointing, the health and well-being of our guests is of the greatest importance," the cruise line said in its statement. "We are equally committed to the well-being of our incredible crew members who live and work aboard our ships and on Castaway Cay," Disney Cruise Line's private island in the Bahamas.
Disney said it would continue to pay its to crew members and shoreside employees during the suspended operations.
Disney Dream will lose at least five sailings out of Port Canaveral: March 16-20, March 20-23, March 23-27, March 27-30 and March 30 to April 3.
Disney Fantasy will lose at least three sailings out of Port Canaveral: March 14-21, March 21-29 and March 29 to April 4.
Disney Cruise Line said it will offer passengers affected by this decision a future cruise credit or a full refund, the details of which will be provided directly to them.
Disney Dream was one of four cruise ships preparing to sail out of Port Canaveral on Friday, along with the Carnival Liberty, the Norwegian Sun and the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas.
As of Friday, Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean had not announced plans to halt sailings of their cruise ships. However, the German line AIDA, which is owned by Carnival, said it will cancel all sailings through the end of March. One of its ships, AIDAvita, was barred from making a port call to Vietnam in February, as the virus began to ravage southeast Asia.
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Dave Berman is government editor at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Berman at 321-242-3649 or email@example.com. Twitter: @bydaveberman
Rick Neale is the South Brevard Watchdog Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Neale at 321-242-3638 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @RickNeale1.
Contributing: Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Coronavirus: Last Disney cruise set to sail before operations cease