CEO Donald Dampens Hopes for August 1 return to cruising

Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald has dampened expectations that the world’s largest cruise operator will resume sailing on August 1. 

In an interview with the UK daily, The Telegraph, Donald said that despite having announced last month that Carnival Cruise Line would commence a phased return to sailing on August 1, it would only go ahead with its plans once conditions enabled it to sail with “no greater risk, or even lower risk, then other forms of social gathering.”

His comments came as health officials in Florida, where the company is headquartered, warned that a spike in cases in the state was a red flag. 

The spike has already seen cruise stocks in general take a beating after a rally with analyst Boris Schlossberg of BK Asset Management warning on CNBC: “We’re starting to see a rise in Covid cases, especially in places like Florida, up to about … 1,000 per day at this point,” he said. “By the time they open up the cruise ship offers, which will be August, if we’re running at 2[,000]-3,000 Covid infections per day in Florida, I think you’re going to see a much greater dampening of enthusiasm towards that trade. So, I am not at all a buyer of this rebound in travel.”

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CEO Donald Dampens Hopes for August 1 return to cruising
CEO Donald Dampens Hopes for August 1 return to cruising

Is return to cruising the best interest of public health?

Meanwhile, in a wide-ranging interview, Donald told The Telegraph: 

“We’re not trying to predict when we’ll open up but we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to. But it’s obviously dependent on what’s in the best interest of public health, not about cruise but about broad social gathering… if people are in restaurants, hotels, airport terminals and subway stations, if a social gathering is happening, then it’s a condition for cruise.

“But if we’re still in a state of highly constrained social gathering then it’s not the right situation. So we’ll see where society is at that point. We’re aware that people are anxious to get their economies going again, people are definitely anxious to cruise. We continue to get bookings and so on. So we’re anxious to go, too. But we only want to do it when the time is right so I think that there is a broader societal metric that we have to look  at – we can’t just look wholly at cruise.”

Earlier Carnival’s statement of return to cruising

Carnival had originally said that beginning August 1, cruises would be resumed on the following ships:

    • Galveston: Carnival Dream, Carnival Freedom, and Carnival Vista
    • Miami: Carnival Horizon, Carnival Magic and Carnival Sensation
    • Port Canaveral: Carnival Breeze and Carnival Elation.
  • All other North American and Australian homeport cruises have been cancelled through August 31.
  • All Carnival Spirit Alaskan cruises from Seattle will be cancelled, as well as the Carnival Spirit Vancouver-Honolulu cruise on September 25 and the Honolulu-Brisbane transpacific cruise on October 6.

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Royal Caribbean has also said that subject to developments, it plans to resume cruise operations as of August 1 and in China from July 1.

“Given ongoing global public health circumstances, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has decided to extend the suspension of most sailings through July 31, 2020, with the exception of sailings from China, which will be suspended through the end of June… We expect to return to service on August 1.” the company said in a statement at the beginning of the month.  

The other of the big three cruise operators, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has also announced its road map for a phased return to sailing and has revealed plans to place a public health officer on all of its ships and upgrade onboard medical centers with COVID-19 testing kits and medications as part of new health protocols.  

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