MIAMI — Multiple consumer media outlets are reporting input from the CDC that could indicate a possible, though with limited capacity, return to cruise ship sailing out of U.S. ports for summer 2021.
Yesterday Carnival posted its latest cancellation update on its website, alerting passengers and the trade that it is extending its pause in all operations from U.S. ports to June 30, 2021.
The cancellations came with what amounted to a veiled threat from the company to potentially restart with sailings out of non-U.S. ports as the months waiting for the CDC to lift its Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) drag on. The CSO was updated with new measures on April 2, prompting pushback from the industry and CLIA.
Carnival is of course part of Carnival Corp., by far the largest cruise company in the U.S.
“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 U.S. society at large,” said Carnival president Christine Duffy in the cruise line’s April 6 update on its site.
“While we have not made plans to move Carnival Cruise Line ships outside of our U.S. homeports, we may have no choice but to do so in order to resume our operations which have been on ‘pause’ for over a year. 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.”
In response, consumer news outlets including Bloomberg, quote CDC spokesperson Jade Fulce as saying: “CDC is committed to working with the cruise industry and seaport partners to resume cruising following the phased approach outlined in the Conditional Sailing Order.”
Adds Fulce: “The goal aligns with the desire to resume passengers operations in the United States expressed by many major cruise ship operators and travellers; hopefully, by mid-summer with restricted revenue sailings.”
In recent days and weeks several major U.S.-based cruise lines including NCL, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Crystal Cruises have announced returns-to-service in 2021 with cruises out of non-U.S. ports, which are not under CDC jurisdiction. So far all of the cruise lines are requiring passengers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.