Disney reflags Friendship boats, requiring foreign port call |

Disney reflags Friendship boats, requiring foreign port call

A newly Bahamian-registered Friendship boat at Epcot. Photo via DepositPhotos.

Docking at the Morocco and Germany Pavilions may not satisfy the “non-U.S. port of call” requirement, though.

WALT DISNEY WORLD, FL — In what is being called a cost-saving measure, the Walt Disney World Resort and Spa has reflagged its fleet of “Friendship boats.” The boats now are officially registered in the Bahamas.

Having foreign-flagged vessels operating in U.S. waters is not unusual. Most cruise lines, including Disney’s, have non-U.S. flagged ships, so that U.S. labor laws will not apply to their crew.

Foreign ports

The downside to giving the Friendship boats a non-U.S. registry, of course, is that the vessels will be required to dock in a non-U.S. port on every journey. Disney hopes to satisfy this requirement by rotating the entire fleet of boats through the World Showcase Lagoon itinerary each day. That way each boat will dock at the Morocco Pavilion or the Germany Pavilion at least once daily.

Maritime law experts say that may not be enough. If the practice is challenged, Disney could be required to sail the Friendship boats to the Bahamas at least weekly, which would undercut their cost savings. It is rumored, though, that if necessary Epcot will add a dock at the New Jersey Pavilion, which the scholars all agree will satisfy the foreign port requirement.

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Cover photo: A newly Bahamian-registered Friendship boat at Epcot. Photo via DepositPhotos.