If you’ve ever wondered just how many cruises were impacted by the suspension back in March 2020, Carnival Cruise Line has given us an idea. The number of trips halted for that single cruise line alone measures in the thousands, and the number of passengers who had a trip cancelled measures into the millions.
Those figures come according to Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy.
Speaking at a recent rally in Galveston, Duffy spoke of the positive news concerning new developments with the CDC, the fondness for Galveston that Carnival has, and the impact of the cruise suspension on both the cruise line and those who work in the industry.
Within her comments she also referenced the massive number of cruises that Carnival has had to cancel since trips were stopped back in March 2020.
“Across Carnival Cruise Line — just to give you some perspective of what 14 months out of the U.S. has meant — we have cancelled over 2,600 cruises,” Duffy said. “That impacted 4 million people who were booked on cruises that we have had to cancel.”
Simple arithmetic shows that comes out to roughly 185 cruises per month since trips were first suspended, or about six cruises per day averaged over the entire 14 months.
$10.24 Billion in Losses in 2020 Due to the Pause
When it comes to the cruise lines most impacted by the stoppage, it could be argued that Carnival is at the top of the list.
While every line has been hit hard, Carnival is among the largest lines in the world. In addition, it sails almost exclusively from the United States. For instance, while rival Royal Caribbean restarted cruising in Asia and has plans to restart from the Caribbean, Carnival has yet to start back. It’s first scheduled cruise isn’t until July.
That’s one reason why Carnival Cruise Line’s parent company — Carnival Corporation — registered a loss of $10.24 billion in 2020. Keep in mind this figure does encompass several different lines, including Carnival, Princess, and others.
Still, that loss means the company lost more in 2020 than it profited for the previous three years combined. To stay afloat during the pause, the cruise giant has issued billions in equity and debt.
As well, Carnival Cruise Line’s parent company has shed nearly 20 ships across its fleets, as older, less-efficient vessels were removed. Ships like Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Fascination were sold or scrapped during the cruise suspension.
“Devil Is Always in the Details” for a July Return
While it has been a rough year, there are now signs that cruising may return in July. Recent comments from the CDC and modifications to the Conditional Sail Order make a restart of cruising look more viable.
“The good news is CDC has begun to provide the industry with more specific guidance that does give us a path where we could resume sailing by July,” said Duffy.
However, she did warn that date is not set in stone.
“There are still a lot of details to be worked out, and as they say, the devil is always in the details.”
One detail that needs to be worked out is vaccination requirements. To date Carnival has yet to announce a decision one way or another regarding requiring the shot. New CDC modifications to the Conditional Sail Order allow a line to skip simulated cruises, however, if the vast majority of crew and passengers are vaccinated. This would drastically speed up any return.
Already the cruise line has started to give shots to its crew. Meanwhile, more than half of American adults have at least one shot, but the CDC requires 95% of cruise passengers be vaccinated for trips to see the accelerated timeline.
Rival Royal Caribbean has hinted at the possibility of two pathways to return, whereby vaccinated cruises return before trips for everyone else. There is no word yet on what Carnival plans to do.
One thing the cruise line is certainly looking forward to is not just a return, but the inaugural of its newest ship, Mardi Gras. Originally set to begin sailing months ago, the new ship — which is a sharp change in size and style from other Carnival ships — is set to sail from Port Canaveral whenever cruises do resume.
While Mardi Gras has had its share of cruises within the 2,600 that have already been cancelled, the hope is that its day is on the horizon, along with the rest of the fleet.