Cruise expectations continue to change as different countries adapt to shifts in the COVID-19 pandemic, and Carnival Cruise Line has shared a slightly amended update to booked passengers, alerting them to possible cruise disruptions and what that means for travelers.
Carnival Cruise Line Shares Update
In the pre-cruise update from president Christine Duffy sent to guests on January 6, 2022, Carnival Cruise Line has shared some changed expectations for upcoming cruises. The letter outlines the most popular parts of the cruise line’s Have Fun. Be Safe. health and safety protocols, including the updated mask policy and encouraging guests to obtain COVID-19 booster shots when they become eligible.
This information is no different than the previous update sent to guests on December 23, 2021.
This update also reminds guests that “even with these measures and other stringent COVID-19 protocols we have in place, it is possible we will have some positive cases during your cruise given the prevalence of the Omicron Variant. Should that happen, we are prepared to actively manage the situation, protect guest and crew health, and operate your cruise.”
The letter goes on to reveal details from December cruises. More than 217,000 guests sailed with Carnival during December, and the cruise line “did not encounter any serious guest cases onboard that required medical attention.”
This information will undoubtedly be a relief to guests booked on upcoming cruises, as there have been many headlines in recent weeks about “outbreaks” on cruise ships but without details as to the severity of positive cases detected on board ships.
The letter continues to remind guests that different ports of call may have different guidelines for determining whether or not to admit cruise ships, based on local resources and the determination of local authorities. If a cruise port must be canceled because a ship is denied, the letter states that “there will be no compensation for a missed port, beyond a refund of any pre-purchased Carnival shore excursions.”
This policy is not new and has been part of cruise ticketing contracts for years. Section 8(b) of Carnival Cruise Line’s cruise ticket contract reads:
“Carnival shall have no liability for any compensation or other damages in such circumstances for any change in itinerary, ports of call, ports of embarkation and debarkation, and/or duration of the cruise.”
While cruise lines have often opted to offer onboard credit or other compensation to guests if a port is canceled during the voyage, they are under no obligation to do so. As cruise lines continue to recover from massive losses during the 16-month complete industry shutdown, it is not surprising that extra compensation will no longer be offered.
If guests are on a ship and the itinerary is changed or a port is canceled, they should take care to note that the decision is not the crew’s, but is based on local guidance and port authorities, as well as the authority of the vessel’s master. While guests will understandably be disappointed or frustrated about last-minute changes, they should not take out any frustrations on crew members.
Options to Change Travel Plans
Carnival continues to provide flexibility to guests who want to change their travel plans, allowing rebooking as well as full refunds if requested. Booked guests can contact Carnival directly or work through their travel agent to make those changes.
The updated letter is also making guests aware that “if you have tested positive or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive within 14 days of your cruise, you will not be permitted to sail.” This is also part of Carnival’s cruise ticket contract.
Guests are advised that “we are experiencing heavy call volume and you may have difficulty contacting us.” Cancelations and refund requests can be handled directly on Carnival’s website, with no need to call.
Overall, this clarification of policies can be reassuring to passengers that Carnival Cruise Line is committed to safe sailing and good customer service. The clear communication from the cruise line is helpful at a time when policies and expectations can change rapidly, and passengers can continue to count on Carnival for fun and safe cruise vacations.