Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald has noted how far cruising has come on the two-year anniversary of Carnival Cruise Line’s sailing restart, thanking guests for their loyalty and praising the dedication of the Carnival Cruise Line family for bringing cruising back with more fun than ever. Where does cruising stand today, and how does it look as travelers set sail even more?
Cruising Is Back! – Remembering the Restart
It was July 3, 2021 when Carnival Cruise Line first set sail from a US home port after more than 15 months without cruising due to the industry-wide pandemic shutdown, and crew members, corporate executives, and cruise lovers rejoiced at the return of oceangoing vacations. That very first cruise was aboard Carnival Vista, setting sail from Galveston for a 7-night Western Caribbean sailing.
“Seeing our guests board the ship for the first time in over 15 months was a welcome and emotional sight,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival Cruise Line president, when Carnival Vista first restarted. “The excitement our guests have for Carnival cruising knows no bounds and it’s great to be able to have them enjoy our unique vacation experience and of course see our amazing crew once again.”
That first, cautious sailing was quickly followed the next day by Carnival Horizon from PortMiami on July 4 for a 6-night Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean cruise, then ship after ship joined the restart, including the new and highly anticipated Mardi Gras on her first cruise from Port Canaveral on July 31, 2021, a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise.
Now two years after those first tense-but-momentous cruises, Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald has reflected on the dedication that made the resumption of cruising possible.
“We went through some challenging times during the past two years but thanks to you, thanks for the dedication of our brilliant President Christine [Duffy] and all of the beards, and of course, our incomparable crewmembers, we find ourselves sailing in a bright today and a brighter tomorrow,” Heald said.
In the summer of 2023, cruising most definitely is BACK with all capital letters, as skyrocketing bookings and larger-than-expected demand have filled Carnival ships beyond 100 percent capacity with more and more people eager to set sail.
In fact, second quarter 2023 financial performance has been better than expected across all cruise brands in the Carnival Corporation, including not only Carnival Cruise Line but also Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Costa Cruises, and more.
Bumps Along the Way
Each ship that set sail during the restart had strict health and safety precautions in place, including enhanced cleaning and air filtration onboard, greatly reduced capacities to facilitate social distancing, and simplified any necessary quarantining, mask-wearing, vaccination requirements, and pre-cruise testing.
The restart wasn’t without some bumps and setbacks as individual ships experienced COVID-19 outbreaks onboard and were denied entry into ports of call, the 2021 Alaska season was severely curtailed, and itineraries needed to be swapped and changed over and over to accommodate different destinations’ protocols.
Yet despite it all, cruisers kept on cruising, and by May 2022, all Carnival ships had restarted worldwide when Carnival Splendor set sail from Seattle on May 2, 2022 for an 8-night Alaska voyage.
Now, more than a year after the full complete restart, Carnival Cruise Line is stronger than ever, thanks in large part to cruise fans who never gave up on their favorite vacations.
“Thank you, thank you so very very much for your continuing loyalty and for making 2023 so very strong and 2024 looking like it will be even better,” Heald said.
With the newest Carnival ship, Carnival Venezia, surpassing expectations and delighting guests with cruises from New York and Carnival Jubilee slated to join the fleet from Galveston in December, more and more cruisers will soon have opportunities to discover just how FUN a Carnival cruise can be.