Carnival Cancels Most 2020 U.S. Cruises As CDC Extends Ban

Oct 2, 2020

Carnival Cruise Line is canceling most U.S. sailings through the end of this year. It's the latest sign that the cruise industry’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic could still be many months away.

The company says it's canceling sailings from all ports except its home ports of Miami and Port Canaveral, but it stressed that it still might not sail from those ports in November and December.

Carnival’s announcement came the day after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended a ban on large cruises in U.S. waters through Oct. 31.

The CDC suspended cruises from U.S. ports in March after there were coronavirus outbreaks on a number of ships, with at least 41 deaths. The order was set to expire Wednesday.

In this extension, the federal agency said: "Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas provide current evidence that cruise ship travel continues to transmit and amplify the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19."

The CDC said the outbreaks have occurred, despite health and safety protocols adopted by the cruise lines. And the agency said the need for additional testing, isolation and contact tracing "significantly burdened public health authorities."

Axios and The New York Times reported that CDC Director Robert Redfield wanted to extend the "no sail" order to next February, but was overruled by the White House.

Political leaders in Florida, including the state's two senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, have been pushing for cruises to be allowed to resume.

In Miami, the busiest U.S. cruise port, the industry employs tens of thousands of workers.

This week, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez said he believes the industry was implementing "extraordinary" health and safety measures. "I'm in favor of lifting the 'no sail' order and letting them operate hopefully by November," he said.

When cruises first resumed in Europe over the summer there were problems, including an outbreak on a Norwegian Hurtigruten line ship in which 71 passengers and crew tested positive for the coronavirus. The outbreak sparked a government investigation and forced the cruise line to cancel sailings until next year.

Since then, other lines have resumed limited cruises in Europe, using health and safety protocols that require all passengers and crew to be tested before embarking.

The cruise industry said similar protocols will be in place when sailings resume in the U.S. In a statement, the Cruise Lines International Association said it is confident it can resume sailing safely from U.S. ports, building on what it hails as its "success" in Europe.