Carnival Cruise Line threatens to remove its ships from US home ports to sail elsewhere
Carnival Cruise Line threatened to move its ships out of U.S. waters Tuesday after canceling all cruises departing from U.S. ports through June 30.
“While we have not made plans to move Carnival Cruise Line ships outside of our U.S. homeports, we may have no choice but to do so in order to resume our operations which have been on ‘pause’ for over a year," Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement provided by spokesperson Vance Gulliksen.
Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp., the parent company to Carnival Cruise Line, called Carnival "America's original cruise line" on a company earnings call Wednesday. He said that while the cruise company would prefer to port stateside. "But if we're unable to sail obviously, we will consider home porting elsewhere."
Carnival has 14 home ports along the east and west coasts and the Gulf of Mexico, Gulliksen said.
"We remain committed to working with the Administration and the CDC to find a workable solution that best serves the interest of public health," Duffy said in the release, adding that Carnival is asking that the "cruise industry be treated on par" with other sectors of the travel industry "as well as U.S. society at large."
The threat comes on the heels of new guidance published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detailing the second phase of its Conditional Sailing Order – which the cruise industry had pushed the agency to lift
Although there was new information on the benchmarks that cruise lines need to hit before carrying paying passengers once more, there was no word on when cruising will be able to restart in U.S. waters.
The CDC said in a statement Tuesday that the agency is committed to working with the cruise industry to resume sailing by staying the course of a phased approach, following the steps outlined in its order.
"This goal aligns with the desire for resumption of passenger operations in the United States expressed by many major cruise ship operators and travelers, hopefully by mid-summer," the CDC said in the statement provided by spokesperson Caitlin Shockey .
That doesn't mean cruises will restart this summer, however.
It "is dependent on cruise lines working through the phases of the CSO," Shockey told USA TODAY Wednesday
A year without cruising: No ‘crystal ball’ to tell when sailing could restart amid COVID-19
The cruise industry has been shuttered in U.S. waters since last March while other sectors have been allowed to continue to operate or reopen with health and safety modifications, including airlines and theme parks.
But more than a year later, there is no "crystal ball" that can tell when sailing might restart, said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association, leading trade group for the industry.
"I couldn't begin to speculate as to why the cruise industry is being held out in ways that other industries are not," Craighead told USA TODAY in February.
Other cruise lines have already taken action to move their ships to other parts of the world so they could resume operations.
On Tuesday, Norwegian Cruise Line announced its official return to service would begin in July in Europe and the Caribbean. And last month, Royal Caribbean International announced that sailings in Israel, Bermuda and the Bahamas, and its sibling line, Celebrity Cruises, added itineraries for St. Maarten – all with specific vaccine requirements.
Carnival said it was notifying guests whose cruises have been canceled and is providing options for a future cruise credit with added onboard credits or a full refund.