Carnival Cruise Line is officially back. More than two years after the pandemic shut down the world — and paused cruising — Carnival announced it has returned its entire fleet of nearly two dozen ships to service.
The last ship to return was Carnival Splendor, which set sail from Seattle on a trip to Alaska.
“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.
The full comeback of the Carnival fleet has taken roughly 10 months. Carnival began its return with Carnival Vista sailing from Galveston on July 3, 2021 (a cruise we were aboard) as its official first cruise after the restart. Today, the cruise line is back to operating from a dozen U.S. homeports, ranging from Miami to Long Beach.
Of course, the exciting comeback of Carnival has not been without challenges. While cruising returned right at a lull in cases, the rise of Delta and Omicron variants led to a sharp increase in Covid cases on land and at sea.
Even today, when cases are lower on land, cruise ships continue to see a rise in cases. The number of ‘green’ cruise ships as reported by the CDC (indicating no possible virus cases onboard) has fallen from 58 to 15 in the past six weeks.
Despite the challenges, the return of cruising has shown no signs of slowing. Cases that are found on ships appear to be mostly mild, vaccines are required for the vast majority of passengers, and testing is also required before boarding.
Meanwhile, the public is also eager to cruise again. Carnival announced recently that it saw its highest booking week ever just a few weeks ago, setting a record that was a “double-digit increase” over its previous weekly booking total.
And with the return of the entire current fleet, Carnival Cruise Line is also looking forward to new ships in the future. Adding to its lineup will be Carnival Celebration — a sister to the popular Mardi Gas — that’s set to join Carnival in November 2022 with trips from Miami.
Carnival Jubilee will also join Carnival, but not until late 2023. It will be homeported in Galveston.
In other words, Carnival’s fleet is back as it looks to get even more ships in the water.