As Carnival Splendor welcomes her first guests in over two years today, the full Carnival Cruise Line fleet has now returned to service for the first time since the industry-wide shutdown began in March 2020.
This is a momentous day for cruising, and marks the successful and safe return of vacation options loved by millions of cruise travelers worldwide.
Carnival Splendor Starts Alaska Season
The Concordia-class Carnival Splendor is beginning its Alaska season on May 2 from Smith Cove Cruise Terminal 91 in Seattle, Washington.
This initial cruise is an 8-day roundtrip sailing that will visit top Alaskan ports of call – Skagway, Juneau, Icy Strait Point, and Ketchikan – as well as Victoria, British Columbia.
The itinerary also includes two at sea cruising days, one of which will be in Tracy Arm Fjord near Juneau, where guests will have spectacular opportunities to see glaciers and wildlife, including sea otters, seals, and whales.
“With Carnival Splendor beginning operations today from Seattle, Carnival Cruise Line is thrilled to have our entire fleet of 23 ships back in service, providing more opportunities for our guests to enjoy our signature fun while traveling to beautiful vacation destinations,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.
“We are especially excited to expand our Alaska program this season with three ships bringing more than 100,000 guests – including more than 6,000 this week – from Seattle and San Francisco to awe-inspiring Alaska ports.“
Carnival Splendor will continue offering Alaska sailings from Seattle through the end of August, though only this first sailing is an 8-night itinerary. The rest of the ship’s itineraries will be 7-night sailings.
Depending on the sailing date, Carnival Splendor will visit either Skagway or Sitka as well as Juneau, Ketchikan, and Victoria, and all sailings will include cruising the Tracy Arm Fjord. No other itinerary aboard Carnival Splendor will visit Icy Strait Point.
After the Alaska season, Carnival Splendor is scheduled to reposition to Australia for the southern hemisphere’s summer season. The 113,300-gross-ton cruise ship can accommodate 3,012 passengers at double occupancy, with 1,150 international crew members providing fantastic service.
Full Fun Ship Fleet in Service
With Carnival Splendor‘s official restart today, the full Carnival fleet is back in service. This has been a long time coming, since the first Fun Ship restarted after the global pandemic shutdown of cruising.
Carnival Vista was the very first Carnival cruise ship to restart passenger operations when she set sail on July 3, 2021, from Galveston, Texas.
Over the past 10 months, Carnival Cruise Line has operated a gradual, phased restart, bringing ships back into service one at a time as various ports of call have reopened for travelers.
While there have been challenges along the way with different COVID-19 variants and shifting travel guidelines, the cruise line has worked closely with different destinations to restart safely not only for passengers, but also to keep crew members and port communities safe.
Onboard protocols and policies have been continually updated to meet current guidance, and the cruise line continues to monitor health and safety policies and recommendations to set sail safely.
Guests booked aboard any Carnival ship in the coming weeks and months should keep in touch with the cruise line to stay updated on any changes that may impact their sailing.
Ships Gone But Not Forgotten
While today is a day to celebrate the full return of Carnival Cruise Line, there are ships that will be missed. During the pandemic, the cruise line retired several older, more outdated vessels, and today’s fleet is smaller than the one that initially ceased operations in March 2020.
Five Fantasy-class vessels – Fantasy, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, and Sensation – were sold or scrapped during the pandemic, both as a measure to modernize the fleet as well as to cut operational costs at a time when revenue was at a standstill.
A sixth Fantasy-class vessel, Carnival Ecstasy, is scheduled to be retired in October 2022.
At the same time, Carnival Cruise Line has also welcomed new vessels during the pandemic. The award-winning Mardi Gras debuted as the fleet’s new flagship in July 2021, and her sister ship, Carnival Celebration, will join the fleet in November 2022.