Carnival Cruises and Disney Cruise Line have canceled cruise departures scheduled from U.S. ports through June. This is a setback, in light of updates to the industry guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. A slowdown could, however, only mean a postponement of the restart of the cruise industry in one of its most flourishing markets.
Disney Cruise Line has announced that it will suspend departures from the United States until June 2021, namely those already scheduled for Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder. It is also skipping the European season on Disney Magic, at least until September 18, 2021, with the exception of UK sailings, where for a limited period “short voyages limited to UK residents will be offered, pending the issuance of UK government guidelines and approvals,” the company points out.
Stop also Disney itineraries in Canada, which are suspended until February 28, 2022, “in light of the Canadian government’s announcement that prohibits ships with more than 100 passengers from docking in domestic ports. Stalled, however, are trips to Alaska. Disney also canceled sailings longer than seven nights.
Carnival Cruise Line has also frozen all operations from U.S. ports through June 30. “We remain committed to working with the administration and the CDC to find a workable solution that best serves the interest of public health,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. We are asking that the cruise industry be treated on an equal footing with other travel and tourism sectors, as well as American society in general.” The senior executive also did not rule out the possibility of moving Carnival Cruise Line ships out of their home ports in the U.S. “to resume our operations that have been on ‘hiatus’ for over a year.”
According to Bloomberg’s report, the CDC would be in line with the desire to resume passenger operations in the U.S. expressed by many of the major cruise ship operators and travelers” and that this could happen “by mid-summer with departures with quota numbers.”
In particular, Clia, the main association of cruise lines, was the one to express its opinion. On March 24, it had pointed its finger at CDC, criticizing the lack of new guidelines, given that those issued the previous October were “obsolete”. “In doing so,” Clia said, “CDC has effectively banned the world’s largest cruise market.
The new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control includes increasing the reporting frequency from weekly to daily for Covid-19 cases and diseases and implementing routine testing of all crew based on the ship’s Covid-19 status and establishing a plan and timeline for vaccinating crew and port personnel.
“Vaccination efforts will be critical to the safe resumption of passenger operations,” the CDC said.
Also planned in a preparatory phase are simulated trips to allow crew and port personnel to practice the new operating procedures with volunteers before sailing with passengers.