Carnival Cruise Line Could Sail Before End of 2020

Carnival Horizon aft deck.

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Despite the seemingly endless woes being experienced by the cruise industry, Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald says there is still a chance that ships could sail from U.S. ports before the end of 2020.

Carnival Horizon Arrival Miami 239
Everyone at Carnival — from Donald to Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy and the line’s Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal hope to soon be sailing again. (Photos by Carnival Cruise Line)

“It’s Definitely Possible”

During a recent chat with Seatrade Cruise News, the executive looked at what’s been happening in overseas ports as a harbinger of hope that things might not be as bad as they seem. “If you go back just two or three months, who would have thought there would be any possibility of cruising in Italy?” he said. “Now, Italy is cruising again! They’ve mitigated the spread. Society is starting to move about. Is it too soon? Is it premature? Is it perfect timing? We’ll all know that a month or two from now.”

Of course, the situation in Italy is far different from the state of affairs in the United States, where the crisis which shut down the industry in March shows little sign of abating. Despite this, Donald holds firm in his believe that “It’s definitely possible we could sail again in 2020 from the U.S.”

Having said that, it’s important to remember that, as Donald told Cruise Radio during an exclusive chat last month, the lines over which he holds sway will not rush into a return. “I want the public to be assured that we’re not going to sail until we know that we’re acting in the best interest of public health. When society has determined the level of risk they’re willing to live with, then we’ll begin considering cruising. But until that’s happening in a consistent way, we’ll continue to focus on what we will do once we resume.”

“We’re Preparing For All Possibilities”

At the moment, there are more questions than answers. While Donald understands how frustrating that is for the vast community of cruisers, he admits that it’s equally vexing for his team. With no clue as to what protocols will be required — whether by government agencies or to meet the comfort level of guests — he told Cruise Radio, “We’re preparing for any and all possibilities. We want to both make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect our guests while at the same time giving them the experience they expect when they cruise with us.”

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Photo via Carnival Cruise Line

One thing he assured Seatrade was that Carnival was working hard to make sure that should a health situation develop on board, passengers will not have to worry about being trapped on board. “It’s important we’re prepared [for a possible outbreak],” he acknowledged. “The guests need to be comfortable that we’ve worked out with every destination we visit how that will be handled.”

The Thing He Finds “Very Inspiring and Very Emotional”

Asked by Cruise Radio what’s been the biggest surprise during this crisis, Donald said that while it’s been a learning experience on many levels, one thing in particular has buoyed him up. “The most endearing thing for me is the outpouring of support, affection and love for our crew, our brands and even individual ships.”

He says that they have received “countless E-mails, letters, text messages, voicemails and support” from cruisers. “I can’t thank our guests enough for that. It’s been an incredible thing, very inspiring and very emotional.”

To every past and future guest sailing on any ship in the Carnival fleet, he extends a heartfelt message: “Thank you for that support. And know that we will be back!”

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