As many countries in Asia continue to uphold strict pandemic-related travel restrictions, Costa Cruises has decided to cancel all sailings from East Asian homeports for the time being.
While the cruise line still intends to operate in the future, this restructuring focuses on options that are currently more open for international travel.
Asian Homeports Canceled
Italian-based Costa Cruises is restructuring its operations in East Asia and, as a result, has canceled all upcoming sailings from those regional homeports.
The cruise line responded to an inquiry from Cruise Hive with a statement about the reorganization:
“As a result of continuing uncertainties regarding the full restart of international cruises in East Asia, Costa Cruises has decided to reorganize its structure in the region. Asia remains as a strategic area for the Company, and we will focus our operations on outbound sales through our local sales representatives.
They will have a direct reporting to the Company headquarters in Genoa. Costa is informing its employees, partners and local stakeholders in Asia affected by the reorganization and the cancellation of our future Asian home ports cruise programs.“
Local Travel Restrictions Impacting Cruises
Asian nations, particularly China, still maintain very strict, even zero-tolerance, international travel protocols with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, and protocols have changed very quickly in response to local case counts.
This can make it very difficult for any prospective cruisers to travel to Asian homeports before or after a cruise, as different testing and quarantine protocols must be met.
While every nation must take whatever precautions it feels are necessary to protect the health and well-being of its citizens, there is no indication that Asian nations might relax travel protocols in the near future. This makes it less appealing, if not impossible, for international travelers to reach homeports.
Similarly, such travel restrictions make it impractical for cruise ships to schedule Asian ports of call while still providing passengers with enjoyable travel experiences. Furthermore, restrictions while in those ports of call dramatically limit what passengers may be able to do while visiting.
Costa Cruises’ upcoming World Cruise aboard Costa Deliziosa, for example, is an epic 127-night itinerary that will bypass Asia altogether, instead following a route that circumnavigates Africa and South America, including ports of call in the Caribbean, North America, India, and the Mediterranean as well.
Recent political changes in China have indicated that travel limitations will not be easing anytime soon. This makes it more feasible, and ultimately more profitable, for international cruise lines to avoid travel to the region.
Costa Ships Pursuing Other Operations
Rather than follow through with previously planned Asian operations, Costa Cruises is adjusting itineraries and deployments to maximize exposure and travel opportunities in other regions.
For example, Costa Firenze, which was purpose-built for the Asian market and entered service in 2020, has not only been pulled from the region, but has been designated part of the “Costa by Carnival” program to bring Italian influence to North America when the ship will begin sailing as Carnival Firenze from Long Beach in 2024.
Costa Venezia has also been redeployed with the “Costa by Carnival” program, and instead of sailing in Asia, will begin homeporting from New York as Carnival Venezia in early 2023.
Other Cruise Lines Canceling Asia Sailings
Costa Cruises is not the only cruise line withdrawing from operations in Asia. In May, Norwegian Cruise Line announced the cancelation of all upcoming fall and winter 2022-2023 sailings in Asia, repositioning Norwegian Sun to European itineraries instead.
Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, and Windstar Cruises similarly canceled months of sailings in the region due to travel restrictions and complicated regional travel protocols.