We had been hopeful that dreams of summer sailings hadn’t been entirely dashed when Carnival Cruise Line, the largest cruise line in the world, announced that it was planning to restart cruises from 1 August.
However, in an interview with The Telegraph this week, the head of Carnival Cruise Line, Arnold Donald, said that the line will only set sail when “it will be no greater risk, or even lower risk, then other forms of social gathering”.
His words come days after P&O Cruises announced that it had cancelled cruises until mid-October its and just before sister brand Cunard revealed it would be extending its suspension of sailings until November.
He said: “Those we didn’t cancel [was] in hope that we would be able to cruise at that time and the ships would be positioned properly to honour the cruise, so on and so forth.
“We’re not trying to predict when we’ll open up but we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to. But it’s obviously dependent on what’s in the best interest of public health, not about cruise but about broad social gathering… if people are in restaurants, hotels, airport terminals and subway stations, if a social gathering is happening, then it’s a condition for cruise.
“But if we’re still in a state of highly constrained social gathering then it’s not the right situation. So we’ll see where society is at that point.
“We’re aware that people are anxious to get their economies going again, people are definitely anxious to cruise.
“We continue to get bookings and so on. So we’re anxious to go, too. But we only want to do it when the time is right so I think that there is a broader societal metric that we have to look at – we can’t just look wholly at cruise.”
Donald added: “Our highest responsibility and our top priorities are, and they remain, compliance, environmental protection and the health and safety and wellbeing of our guests, our crew and the people and the places we go,” he said.
“So I want people to know that we will do everything to make certain that they are not taking far greater risk by being on a cruise than other forms of social gathering – we don’t want that, we’re not going to let that happen. It will be no greater risk, or even lower risk than other forms of social gathering.”
In spite of the potential delay, Donald seemed confident that the cruise line will have no problem getting passengers back on board when they do finally set sail.
However, in order to attract new-to-cruisers, they will need to think long term about how they can dispel “whatever myth” they hold about cruising.
He said: “I don’t think there will be any issue filling the ships initially because the reality is that there’s not going to be that many ships and that many itineraries, [and] there will be plenty of people wanting to cruise.
“Over time, we’re going to eventually need to get back to where we were which was attracting people who haven’t cruised before.
“That job has been made, short-term, more difficult because people who haven’t cruised are hearing lots of stories and read stuff in the news, and now in their mind they have another reason not to cruise.
“We’re going to have to, over time, chip away at whatever myth they happen to hold about cruise, and help them see that that’s not the case.”
Visit carnival.com for more information.