Today Carnival announced that the handful of sailings the cruise line had scheduled for November 2020 are now canceled.
“Carnival Cruise Line has notified guests and travel agents that it is cancelling the remaining cruises for the six total ships operating from PortMiami and Port Canaveral for November 2020,” the cruise line said in a press release.
Last week, Carnival CEO Arnold Donald spoke multiple times about his confidence that his company will return to cruising from the U.S. in 2020.
In one instance he said, “At this time, we have every reason to be optimistic that we will be sailing in the U.S. before the year end.”
In his comments, however, it was noticeable that sailing in November — when Carnival cruises were scheduled to begin sailing from Miami and Port Canaveral — was not specifically mentioned. All references were to sailing by the end of 2020.
Those words seem to have been selected carefully. With so much uncertainty in the return to cruises from the United States, it’s difficult to say exactly when the first ships will sail until they actually leave the dock with passengers.
In fact, even when Carnival announced its plans to return to only Miami and Port Canaveral in November, the cruise line made it clear these trips were not a sure thing.
On October 1 — when the plan was announced — the cruise line stated, “While operations from Miami and Port Canaveral in November and December are still not certain, Carnival is focusing its initial return to service from those two homeports, whenever that might occur.”
Carnival Set to Return in December, Along With Others
Carnival says that cruises in December from Miami and Port Canaveral are still scheduled, but passengers can cancel on their own and receive the same refund benefits as passengers on trips that were canceled by the cruise lines. That means the option of either their money back or the ability to receive a cruise credit plus bonus onboard credit for their next cruise.
With this schedule change, Carnival is now in line with many others in the industry, including Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean, who plan to resume sailing in December.
Those lines recently announced extensions from the start of November to the start of December. That’s despite the CDC “No Sail Order” and the industry’s voluntary suspensions both scheduled to end October 31.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio pointed to the challenges of getting ships ready for passengers after such a long layup as the reason for his company’s delay.
In addition, there are also the challenges of crewing ships, working with U.S. and foreign governments to get approval for sailing, and implementing the new protocols that will be in place to keep passengers healthy.
With the most recent CDC suspension being extended just a month until the end of October, that is definitely a tall order to have a ship ready to sail again in just a few weeks.
Reasons to Be Optimistic About a Return This Year
Whether or not Carnival — or its rivals — are able to start back to sailing from the United States in December remains to be seen. As we mentioned, Carnival Corporation’s CEO appears confident that his company will resume sailing before the end of 2020.
There seem to be valid reasons for that optimism.
Not only was the CDC extension just 30 days longer (past extensions were upwards of 100 days in length), but trips have started back in Europe. Thus far, the cruises have gone well, giving cruise lines practice — and confidence — in their new procedures on board to battle the virus.
As well, the cruise industry as a whole announced it will commit to 100% COVID testing of passengers and crew before boarding. This is a major step in sailing healthy, and something not currently seen in other forms of travel such as taking a flight or staying at a hotel.
At this point it certainly seems there’s reason for optimism that cruises will return sometime soon, but Carnival’s most recent cancellation of cruises from Miami and Port Canaveral show that we aren’t there just yet.
The line also cancelled five cruises scheduled from Sydney, Australia in 2021.