Cruise giant Carnival extends cancellations for most ships by another month

May 11, 2021

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Cruise giant Carnival Cruise Line is throwing in the towel on a July restart for most of its ships.

The world’s second-biggest cruise line on Tuesday canceled July sailings for all but four of its 24 vessels, citing uncertainty about whether it would get approval to restart operations from government regulators.

Until Tuesday, the line only had canceled sailings on most of its vessels through the end of June.

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In making the announcement, Carnival on Tuesday said it still hoped to restart Caribbean cruises in July in a small way with up to three vessels sailing out of Florida and Texas ports.

As a result, the line has not canceled July sailings out of Miami scheduled to be operated by its 3,960-passenger Carnival Horizon and sailings out of Galveston, Texas, scheduled to be operated by its 3,934-passenger Carnival Vista and 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze.

In addition, the line said it had yet to cancel a handful of July sailings to Alaska out of Seattle on the hopes those could take place, too.

The sailings out of Alaska had been scheduled to take place on the line’s 2,980-passenger Carnival Freedom. But Carnival on Tuesday said that the trips, should they happen, would take place on its smaller, 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle.

Given the uncertainty that the trips will happen, Carnival is allowing passengers who wish to make alternate summer vacation plans to cancel them without penalty through May 31 for a full refund.

Like many lines, Carnival hasn’t operated a single departure since March 2020, when the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic.

The line specializes in affordable cruises out of U.S. ports such as PortMiami and Port Canaveral, which currently are completely shut down as cruise hubs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been blocking cruise ships from sailing out of U.S. ports for more than a year in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Last week, the CDC issued new guidelines for a cruising restart in U.S. waters that left many cruise executives flummoxed.

“We continue to have constructive discussions with the CDC but still have many questions that remain unanswered,” Carnival president Christine Duffy said in a statement accompanying Tuesday’s announcement. “We are working diligently to resume sailing in the U.S. and meet the CDC guidelines.”

Duffy said the company appreciated the continued patience of customers while it worked to resume sailings and would “share additional information as quickly as [it] can.”

Carnival’s announcement comes as the prospects for a July restart for cruising out of U.S. ports become dimmer. In recent days, executives at Carnival rival Norwegian Cruise Line have said there’s now no chance they could restart in July, given the time it will take to prepare vessels for service once regulators approve of a cruising restart.

Still, while a restart of cruising in the coming months out of U.S. ports appears increasingly iffy, many lines are moving ahead with plans to restart sailings in the coming months in other parts of the globe — most notably, the Mediterranean.

In recent weeks, nearly half a dozen major cruise brands including Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises have announced plans to resume Mediterranean sailings out of Piraeus over the next three months.

The restarts include the first Silversea sailings in 15 months, starting on June 18, and the first Seabourn sailings in 16 months, starting on July 3.

Norwegian Cruise Line is resuming Mediterranean sailings out of Piraeus on July 25 in what also will likely be its first voyages in 16 months. Celebrity Cruises is scheduled to begin cruises out of Piraeus on June 19.

The restarts are happening as Greece moves forward aggressively with a plan to reopen widely to tourists in advance of the summer travel season, and other countries around the Mediterranean get closer to broader reopenings to tourists, too.

Several lines including Crystal Cruises, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean also have announced plans to restart Caribbean sailings in the coming months with trips out of non-U.S. ports such as Nassau in the Bahamas.

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Featured image courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.

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