Carnival cruise line has clarified where it stands on the resumption of cruising and the various problems and issues it faces to ramp up all of its vessels as soon as possible. Carnival Cruise Line will start cruising with four vessels in July and ramp up further in the rest of the year.
The line cites various issues that have been holding back the cruise line. However, a restart will now include not three but four vessels. Along with news on the much anticipated Mardi Gras.
Alaska Back on The Program, Four Ships Will Sail in July
Carnival Vista will be the first Carnival Cruise ship to sail from the United States in over a year. Vista will sail from Galveston, where it arrived last week to start preparations. The ship will sail on July 3. The next vessel to sail will be Carnival Horizon.
Carnival Horizon will sail out of Miami on July 4; however, this does depend on whether cruises of seven days and longer will be permitted. If not, Carnival Horizon’s six and eight-day itineraries, after and including July 10, will be changed to seven-day cruises. The cruise departing on July 4 will be hosted by everyone’s favorite cruise director, John Heald.
Carnival Breeze will sail from Galveston on July 15 on a 4-day cruise to Cozumel with a day at sea before and after the call in Mexico’s famous beach resort island. The surprising addition to the three original vessels to sail in July is Carnival Miracle, out of Seattle, beginning July 27, assuming Carnival Freedom’s itineraries to Alaska.
Cruises to Alaska became a real possibility recently after the Senate passed a bill that allows cruise ships to bypass the Passenger Vessel Services Act and sail between US ports without incurring penalties. It does mean that Carnival Miracle’s cruises from Long Beach have been canceled until September 20.
We will not see Mardi Gras sail just yet, the vessel still sits at its dock in Barcelona, Spain, where she has been since January of this year. However, there is finally some good news with the new vessel departing the port on May 21 and arrival in Port Canaveral on June 4.
The crew will join the Mardi Gras ship once in Florida where they will be trained to prepare her for service. The ship also changed the registry from Panama to the Bahamas which was a business decision.
Constructive discussions but questions remain
Although Carnival always said it would be starting up ships in a staggered manner, in an email sent to guests and travel agents, Carnival cites the ongoing discussions with the CDC as one reason why the resumption is not moving faster. The cruise line is still uncertain how Carnival can implement the CDC’s procedures onboard the ships.
With the constant changes the CDC has been making to its requirements, this does not come as a surprise. The last two updates the CDC provided to the Conditional sail order(2A followed by 2B and 3) were quickly followed by amendments.
While the updates were undoubtedly positive for the industry, they do not provide the cruise lines with much certainty about which procedures should be followed on board the ships.
Carnival is also in the process of securing vaccines for the thousands of crew members that will need to embark on the ships, while much uncertainty remains about the vaccination requirements from the CDC, in particular regarding children. Something Carnival President Christine Duffy commented on during an interview with NBC, Duffy said:
we don’t want to be treated differently than any other part of travel tourism, entertainment or society. And so I think that’s where we have the challenge of working through the details. For our cruise line, children under 12 and a big part of the cruise experience is summer, you know, a family vacation.
Much uncertainty remains on the mask issue, whether or not vaccinations will be mandatory on board the ships, whether excursions will be possible, and what happens with individual shore leave.
Questions on other procedures such as what social distancing measures the cruise lines will need to include also remain—the reason why Carnival has decided to cancel more trips once again.
Resumption Brings Along List of Cancellations
Mardi Gras has now been officially canceled through July of this year, while other cruises from the most anticipated cruise ship of 2021 are unavailable until October of this year; this could be due to cruises fully booked after July.
Although the four vessels sailing is a positive note and one long-anticipated, Carnival does recognize these trips are not 100% guaranteed. Guests booked on cruises in July may cancel without penalty by May 31, 2021, and receive a full refund. Guests will not be eligible for any retroactive compensations if the July cruises are canceled.
With that comes the fact that the ramp-up of the crew is a massive operation that does not enable Carnival to man the ships fast enough. Therefore the following cruises have been canceled:
July 1 through and including July 10
- Carnival Breeze from Galveston
July 1 through and including July 30
- Carnival Conquest and Sunrise from Miami
- Dream from Galveston
- Ecstasy from Jacksonville
- Glory from New Orleans
- Elation, Liberty, and Mardi Gras from Port Canaveral
- Panorama from Long Beach
- Pride from Baltimore
- Sensation from Mobile
- Sunshine from Charleston
For those guests whose cruise has been canceled and have yet to receive Carnival’s bonus incentive package, you are eligible for our future cruise credit (FCC) and onboard credit (OBC) as noted below, or a full refund.
All in all, it seems Carnival Cruise Line is trying to restart cruises from the US as soon as possible. However, where other cruise lines can start up multiple ships in countries and ports with less restrictive measures, Carnival is bound entirely by the CDC’s procedures despite active discussions. Something which is causing the company to move slower than it will want to.