Cruises to the Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean are set to start Aug. 1 on eight ships sailing from Miami, Central Florida’s Port Canaveral and Galveston, Tex.
“We are committed to supporting all public health efforts to manage the covid-19 situation,” the company said in its initial statement. “We are taking a measured approach, focusing our return to service on a select number of homeports where we have more significant operations that are easily accessible by car for the majority of our guests."
The eight ships that are expected to start sailing again are Carnival Dream, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Visa from Galveston; Carnival Horizon, Carnival Magic and Carnival Sensation from Miami and Carnival Breeze and Carnival Elation from port Canaveral. The company’s website showed some trips for as little as about $30 a day for an inside room, not including fees and taxes; for a balcony room, the cost was about $58 a day on the same five-day sailing.
All other Carnival cruises in North America and Australia will be canceled through Aug. 31, according to the announcement, with some cancellations extending into the fall. The line operates 27 ships, with one more that was scheduled to launch this year.
“We will use this additional time to continue to engage experts, government officials and stakeholders on additional protocols and procedures to protect the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we serve,” the statement said.
Later Monday, the operator released an updated statement noting that its “current plan” was “contingent on a number of factors."
“Any resumption of cruise operations – whenever that may be – is fully dependent on our continued efforts in cooperation with federal, state, local and international government officials,” the update said.
Carnival’s announcement on Monday followed news that the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure had launched a probe into parent company Carnival Corporation’s handling of outbreaks on its ships. The committee requested a slew of records from Carnival, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Cruise lines across the world announced a temporary pause of operations in mid-March, the day before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order for cruises. Most have extended that halt into the summer without announcing specific plans for restarting.
Last month, the CDC extended the no-sail order into late July — though the agency could extend that order again. In the order, authorities directed cruise lines to submit comprehensive plans that would address how to prevent anyone with covid-19 from boarding, detecting it early on board, containing and responding to the virus and preventing further spread.
In an interview Saturday, Marty Cetron, director of the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, said the agency was reviewing plans from lines that operate most of the ships that sail in U.S. waters. He said the agency could potentially make the no-sail order last longer, but would not speculate on whether that would be necessary. He called cruise ships “uniquely vulnerable” to the virus and said authorities would do what was needed to protect the public.
“We don’t want this to be a place that people think of with horror as opposed to with joy and relaxation," Cetron said.