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Carnival Begins Restaffing Ships in Hope of December Return

Bruce Parkinson

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Carnival Cruise Line is beginning the process of restaffing its ships as part of their plan for a phased relaunch that could begin as early as December. 

Another Good Sign For the Cruise Industry

Crew members in Indonesia prepare to fly to St. Maarten to join Carnival cruise ships. (Photo courtesy of CTI)

Indonesian maritime staffing agency CTI announced on its Facebook page yesterday that several Carnival team members had departed Jakarta en route to St. Maarten, where they will join ships including Carnival Horizon, Carnival Pride and Mardi Gras.

“Hopefully you will be the next joiners and (there will be) more good news soon,” the company said to crew members anxiously awaiting word of their own returns to work. Indonesia has long been a major source country for cruise ship employees.

READ: Florida Governor: ‘We Want To See Cruise Ships Sail Again’

As crew members are brought aboard ships, they will be required to quarantine for 14 days before they can begin their actual duties. 

In the months following the global cruise shutdown, Carnival — like many other cruise lines — repatriated thousands of crew members to their homes around the world. The company then pulled all of its ships out of US waters in June.

(Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

Now the process is beginning again, in reverse. But even as this takes place, more questions than answers remain. Which ships will sail from what ports, and at what capacity levels? How long will the voyages be, and which destinations will allow cruise ships to dock and disembark passengers, even with the new restricted shore leave rules which are expected to be in place? 

The current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) no-sail order, which bans ships from departing US ports, is scheduled to expire on October 31, unless an extension is announced.

PHOTOS: 6 Carnival Ships That Are Scheduled To Sail in 2020

However, on October 21, the CDC renewed its existing Level 3 warning — the organization’s highest — recommending that “travelers defer all cruise travel worldwide.” Many found this move puzzling as it came less than two weeks before the no-sail order’s hoped for expiration.

The rationale for the CDC advice states: “Widespread ongoing spread of coronavirus disease has been reported in some countries. Other countries have reported sustained community spread.”

(Photo courtesy of CDC)

Media reports have suggested that CDC Director Robert Redfield wanted to extend the no-sail order through February 2021 but was overruled by an administration in Washington that is keen to reopen the US economy. If those reports are correct, it could be that reinforcing its Level 3 warning is the CDC’s way of making its intentions clear.

Whether the ban is lifted or not, Carnival has canceled all sailings for the month of November. But beginning in December, in time for the normally busy holiday season, the cruise giant is hoping to sail six ships from Florida’s PortMiami and Port Canaveral.

Bruce Parkinson has written about cruising and the broader international travel industry for more than 25 years.

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