While would-be cruise passengers in the U.S. remain on dry land amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some European cruise lines have been able to return to the seas.
Carnival Corporation said on Thursday that one of its European cruise brands has resumed limited operations and another is set to soon.
In Italy, the Costa Deliziosa and Costa Diadema have already carried guests on successful voyages after its coronavirus shutdown, and the German cruise line AIDA is set to return to sailing next week, according to Carnival.
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Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corp., said in a written statement that the company has “come full circle from initiating a suspension in the early days of the pandemic, to transitioning the fleet into a pause status, right sizing our organization and, now, embarking on the phased resumption of guest operations.”
The ships’ initial cruises have a reduced passenger capacity and added health protocols. The guidelines are based on rules from each brand’s respective home country, according to Carnival. Also, all passengers are being tested before embarking.
Carnival, which owns brands including Carnival Cruise Line, Princess and Holland America, among others, said it would return other brands and ships to service over time.
In the U.S., the CDC has extended its no-sail order through at least the end of the month. Many cruise lines have already canceled voyages through early next year.
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Data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center show that some European countries, including Italy and Germany, were able to more dramatically slow the number of new cases COVID-19 than the U.S. over the summer.
But with the average number of confirmed new cases rising again even in some of those same European countries, it remains to be seen just how soon other cruise lines will be able to begin sailing again – or even if lines like Costa and AIDA could be forced to cancel voyages again.
Still, Carnival touted its health protocols and said it was “encouraged” that the CDC opted to only extend its no-sail order for U.S. waters for one month until Oct. 31. The company said it hoped cruising could resume in the U.S. in 2020.
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More travelers appear to be booking their future travel again. Carnival said that about 60% of bookings it took during the first three weeks of September were new bookings, rather than customers using credits from canceled trips.