As Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) announces another sailing pause extension, this time to July, the company’s president is contemplating the possibility of home porting outside of the US, after recently taking a hard stance that it would not begin its cruises from anywhere other than American ports.
In a statement released yesterday, CCL President Christine Duffy said while the cruise line remains committed to working with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it has been unable to do business for more than a year due to the CDC’s hesitation to allow sailings from US ports.
“While we have not made plans to move Carnival Cruise Line ships outside of our US home ports, we may have no choice but to do so in order to resume our operations, which have been on ‘pause’ for over a year,” she said.
“We appreciate the continued patience and support from our loyal guests, travel advisors and business partners as we work on a return-to-service solution.”
She continued, “We know that this is very disappointing to our guests who continue to be eager to sail and we remain committed to working with the administration and the CDC to find a workable solution that best serves the interest of public health. We are asking that the cruise industry be treated on par with the approach being taken with other travel and tourism sectors, as well as US society at large.”
Should CCL change its position on departing its ships from ports outside of the US, it would be joining the likes of Royal Caribbean International and Crystal Cruises, which have already begun to sell cabins for cruises beginning at Nassau’s cruise port.
Two weeks ago, Duffy declared in a video that CCL is “America’s cruise line”, but conceded in yesterday’s statement that the company cannot go on much longer awaiting the CDC’s green light.
The statement added, “Booked guests and travel advisors are being notified directly of the cancellations and the options for a future cruise credit plus onboard credit package, or a full refund. To provide flexibility for guests booked on July itineraries that remain in the schedule, Carnival is extending final payment deadlines for all July sailings to May 31, 2021, with the ability to cancel without penalty.”
On Monday, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Del Rio wrote to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, requesting that the CDC’s conditional sailing order (CSO) be lifted by July 4, which is when Del Rio said Norwegian will begin sailing once again.
He insists in his letter that the cruise line has developed protocols that exceed those that are in place for other tourism industry sectors that have already returned to business and asks that the CDC accept those protocols and allow sailing.
“By requiring full and complete vaccinations of guests and crew, we believe our extensive health and safety standards share in the spirit and exceed the intent of the CDC’s existing conditional sailing order to advance public health goals and to protect guests, crew and the communities we visit,” Del Rio said.
“Therefore, we respectfully request the CDC lift the CSO for all NCLH cruise vessels departing from US ports effective July 4, 2021.
“We trust that you will agree that our protocols extend well beyond the protocols of other travel, leisure and hospitality sectors, all of which have already reopened, including hotels and resorts, casinos, restaurants, sporting venues, theme parks and airlines. We believe that a cruise ship with a fully vaccinated population when combined with the virus protection defenses provided by the HSP protocols is one of the safest vacation options available.
“With vaccine mandates and strict health and safety protocols in place, we are confident in our ability to provide a uniquely safe and healthy vacation environment. These mitigation protocols will minimize, to the greatest extent possible, further infection and spread of COVID-19. With our vessels back in operation, we will not only reinstate tens of thousands of American jobs and meet the significant American consumer’s demand for cruising, but also re-contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to the US economy as the industry resumes cruise operations.
“We look forward to continued partnership with the CDC in recommencing operations with 100 percent vaccinated guests and crew aboard.”
The CDC made some updates to its CSO on April 2, though that update reveals nothing about when cruise travel could begin.
Instead, the CDC’s addition to its conditional sail order seeks to ensure ports and health authorities where those ports are located within the US are on the same page and opens the door for simulated voyages to begin.