Carnival Cruise Line launches first ship from US port since onset of COVID-19 pandemic

Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Corp.'s flagship line, is once again launching ships with paying passengers from U.S. ports.

Carnival Vista departed the Port of Galveston in Texas Saturday afternoon for a weeklong cruise with stops in Mahogany Bay, Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico; and Belize City, Belize. It’s the first ship from the cruise line to sail from a U.S. port in more than 15 months. 

“Having our guests on board again is something we’ve been looking forward to for a very long time," Carnival Vista Captain Andrea Catalani said in a statement Saturday. "Our crew is very excited and will provide them with the incredible Carnival vacation they’ve been so patiently waiting for.”

Carnival executives said last month that the company lost more than $2 billion in its latest quarter, but bookings for next year are running ahead of 2019's pace.

What Carnival ships are sailing this summer?

More Carnival cruises are set to take off soon, according to the statement:

  • Carnival Horizon, is set to depart from PortMiami on Sunday.
  • Carnival Breeze is set to sail from Galveston on July 15.
  • Carnival Miracle is set to sail from Seattle for Alaska on July 27.
  • Mardi Gras, the cruise line's newest ship, is set to begin seven-day cruises from Florida's Port Canaveral on July 31.

Additional Carnival ships will resume service in August. 

While the cruise industry was an early victim in the pandemic, things are starting to turn around. Carnival Corp. executives said last month that the company lost more than $2 billion in its latest quarter, but bookings for next year are running ahead of 2019's pace.

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Vaccinated passengers on board

Carnival Vista is sailing with vaccinated passengers.

Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement last month that the company chose to operate with vaccinated guests during July in U.S. waters because of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention constraints.

To bypass test cruises and move straight into sailings with paying passengers, 95% of passengers and 95% of crew must be vaccinated, according to the CDC. The rules do not apply in Florida, which has a state law banning businesses from requiring proof of vaccination.

Carnival Cruise Line passengers must complete the final dose of their COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days ahead of sailing, according to the cruise line's website.

Vaccinated guests are not required to wear a face mask on board a vaccinated Carnival cruise, but masks are required in certain events, such as embarkation and debarkation.