The cruise industry continues to be on hold, with Carnival announcing an extension of its pause through June 30, 2021.
Previously, trips had been available in June — including the inaugural sailing of its hotly-anticipated new ship, Mardi Gras.
“We know that this is very disappointing to our guests who continue to be eager to sail, and we remain committed to working with the Administration and the CDC to find a workable solution that best serves the interest of public health,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “We are asking that the cruise industry be treated on par with the approach being taken with other travel and tourism sectors, as well as U.S. society at large.”
This statement echoes recent comments made from a number of cruise line executives, as well as the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).
Those groups point out that places like sports stadiums, theme parks, and casinos are allowed to operate, yet cruise lines are still stuck at the dock. This is despite cruise lines offering universal testing before boarding and the ability to require vaccines to sail.
As a result of the U.S. sailing ban, some cruise lines have looked outside of the United States to get back to cruising. Royal Caribbean has announced trips from Bermuda and Nassau. Norwegian Cruise Line has said it will sail from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
Now Carnival has hinted it may follow the same strategy.
“While we have not made plans to move Carnival Cruise Line ships outside of our U.S. homeports, we may have no choice but to do so in order to resume our operations which have been on ‘pause’ for over a year,” Duffy said. “We appreciate the continued patience and support from our loyal guests, travel advisors and business partners as we work on a return-to-service solution.”
If there is an announcement about possible future sailing dates, it might come soon. Carnival Corporation (the parent of Carnival Cruise Line) has a quarterly business update with investment analysts tomorrow morning. We expect several questions regarding the potential return to sailing, whether it be in the United States or elsewhere.
Carnival originally paused sailing back in March 2020 at the beginning of the health crisis. Since then, CLIA says that roughly 400,000 passengers have sailed under new protocols around the world, with only about 50 cases reported.
CLIA, cruise executives, and political leaders have called on the CDC to lift its framework announced in October 2020 and allow cruising to resume.
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