Carnival Cruise Line is canceling most US sailings through the end of this year, the latest sign that the cruise industry's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic could still be many months away.
The company said Thursday it is cancelling sailings from all ports except its home ports of Miami and Port Canaveral, Florida. Carnival said it will focus its initial return to operations on those two ports, but it stressed that it still might not sail from those ports in November and December.
"As we have said throughout this pause, our return to operations will be gradual and phased in," Carnival President Christine Duffy said in a statement.
Carnival's announcement came a day after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended a ban on large cruises in US waters through Oct. 31. The no-sail order, initially issued in March, had been set to expire on Sept. 30.
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"Recent passenger voyages in foreign countries continue to have outbreaks, despite cruise ship operators having extensive health and safety protocols," the CDC said. It noted cruise ships force people to share spaces that are more crowded than typical urban settings.
The CDC said it knows of 3,689 reported coronavirus cases and 41 deaths linked to cruises in US waters between March and September. The agency said that is likely an undercount.
Even before the CDC announced its decision, the cruise industry had voluntarily suspended US sailings through Oct. 31. Last week, the industry announced new safety plans, including COVID testing for all passengers and crew before boarding.
Carnival rival Norwegian Cruise Line said Thursday that it hasn't canceled any scheduled cruises and remains optimistic it can resume US operations soon. Norwegian is listing November cruises from Florida to the Bahamas and New York to Bermuda on its website.
Most countries which have made a cautious return to domestic cruising have banned foreign nationals from ships. Most of these vessels are below 100 passengers, like the Cairns Coral Explorer.
For these new sailings in Australia, and most of European vessels are tightly resricted by wider travel bans. The one notable exception is French Polynesia where itineraries have welcomed other nationalities on ships - including Americans.