Wednesday, Carnival Cruise Lines announced it’s canceling all US voyages through January 2021, and through March in Tampa, amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s something once it’s out there, you’re out there you're in it. The ventilation, the food system… It is hard to be able to ensure that you've got complete control in the midst of a pandemic,” said University of South Florida public health professor Dr. Jay Wolfson.
In March, the CDC halted cruising all together after several outbreaks were reported on board. Late last month, it issued new 'conditional sailing order' that includes a phased-in return.
There’s a focus on testing, isolation and social distancing. Plans also call for “mock” voyages using volunteer passengers to prove it’s safe.
With all sailings from U.S. homeports canceled from Jan 1 through 31, the Carnival Corp. subsidiary has also delayed embarkations from Baltimore, Md.; Charleston, S.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Long Beach, Calif.; Mobile, Ala.; New Orleans and San Diego through Feb. 28. The cruise line has even bumped some sailings back even further, suspending Carnival Legend departures from Tampa through March 26.
With that being said, Carnival confirmed it’s now looking to slowly, ultimately resume guest operations in Miami and Port Canaveral, Fla., followed by Galveston, Texas.
"We are committed to meeting the CDC requirements and keeping our guests and business partners informed of our progress," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said of the update. "The entire Carnival team appreciates the great support of our guests, travel advisors and business partners, and local officials in our homeports and destinations."
In accordance with CDC processes, Carnival is currently prepping 16 ships for an eventual resumption of guest service in 2021.
In related headlines, SeaDream Yacht Club has also canceled operations for the remainder of 2020 after multiple passengers tested positive for COVID-19 after boarding a ship in Barbados earlier this month.
Nevertheless, the CEO of Royal Caribbean has claimed that over 100,000 cruising enthusiasts have come forward to volunteer for the company’s trial voyages, set to sail at an undetermined future date.
It’s a vital industry in Florida, accounting for 150,000 jobs and $8.5 billion in annual direct spending.
“Quite honestly we're doing ok. We’re not nearly where we normally are. We’re about 20% off on occupancy about 40 percent off on revenue, but we're missing a lot of the pieces of the pie,” said Santiago Corrada, CEO of Visit Tampa Bay.