Carnival wants to resume cruising in August
Cruise shipping giant Carnival Corporation has revealed plans to resume sailing at the beginning of August.
The phase-in sailings would be introduced in the company’s North America service with a total of eight ships from Miami, Port Canaveral, and Galveston.
The ships in question involve Carnival Dream, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Vista sailing from the Port of Galveston, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Magic and Carnival Sensation homeported in Miami, and Carnival Breeze and Carnival Elation homeported in Port Canaveral.
The company said it would extend the suspension of sailings in all other North American and Australian markets through August 31, meaning that all other cruises on these services would be cancelled in the meantime.
“We are committed to supporting all public health efforts to manage the COVID-19 situation. We are taking a measured approach, focusing our return to service on a select number of homeports where we have more significant operations that are easily accessible by car for the majority of our guests,” Carnival said announcing the plan.
“We will use this additional time to continue to engage experts, government officials and stakeholders on additional protocols and procedures to protect the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we serve.”
Carnival is eager to resume sailing as costs from the maintenance of ships, sailing cancellations, salary and other payments keep piling up.
However, it is yet unclear whether people would feel confident in taking a cruise any time soon, especially since lockdown measures and stay at home orders across the world remain in force.
Uphill battle for the cruise industry
The pandemic has had a major impact on the reputational image of the cruise industry especially in the wake of rampant outbreaks of the virus on multiple cruise ships that even resulted in deaths.
Infection reports continue emerging, the most recent one involving a crew member on board TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 3 who tested positive for the virus on April 30. Even though all other crew members on board the vessel tested negative, the incident shows that the pandemic is far from being over.
What is more, ship quarantines and the inability of cruise ships to find ports to dock and disembark passengers amid lockdown measures have not aided the sentiment among potential passengers.
As such, the way of doing business would have to change in order to reassure cruise takers they would be safe.
According to a recent poll conducted fro SAGA, 62% of over-50s are reluctant to take a cruise due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Furthermore, 44% of respondents are delaying booking future travel, whilst 25% have already cancelled travel plans.
“ The figures released by SAGA will likely be skewed, due to the fact that more respondents are within the high-risk age range compared with the general public (for COVID-19), however, cruise companies should take this as a warning that many others will feel the same way,” Ben Cordwell, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, commented.
“It is essential that cruise companies address the concerns of the public and have contingency plans in place to stop a repeat of what has been seen during this outbreak. If companies do not respond sufficiently, they risk experiencing severe public backlash that could take the industry years to recover from.”
The plans on the resumption of sailings are being revealed at a time when the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission is launching a fact-finding investigation on cruise line issues.
The investigation aims to determine the economic stability of the cruise lines and identify “commercial solutions to COVID-19 related issues interfering with the operations of the industry.
“When we talk about the ‘cruise industry’ we tend to think of the ship and vessel operator, but there is an exhaustive list of American citizens and businesses who rely on the work they do for the cruise lines. The sooner cruise companies are able to resume operations and provide certainty to the public about the lines’ financial security, the sooner we can bring stability to enterprises and communities that rely on the cruise industry for their livelihoods. I am confident that the fact-finding will identify useful commercial measures industry can take to achieve those goals,” said FMC Commissioner Louis E. Sola.