Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Carnival plans return of cruises in August

- DEE-ANN DURBIN AND ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON

Carnival Cruise Line said Monday that it plans to gradually resume cruising in North America in August, nearly five months after it halted operations as a result of the new coronaviru­s.

Sailings will begin on Aug. 1 or soon after, with eight ships setting off from Galveston, Texas; Miami; and Port Canaveral, Fla. A majority of customers can easily drive to those ports, the company noted. Those cruises would sail to destinatio­ns including the Bahamas and Cozumel, Mexico, according to Carnival’s web site.

Carnival said its operations from other North American and Australian markets will be on hold through Aug. 31. It is also canceling planned sailings from Vancouver to Honolulu on Sept. 25 and Honolulu to Brisbane, Australia, on Oct. 6.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued a no-sail order to cruise companies on March 14. It was extended and is set to expire July 24, unless the the agency decides to lift it sooner.

The CDC says infectious diseases can easily spread when crew members from a ship with an outbreak transfer to other ships. It notes outbreaks of covid-19 on cruise ships also pose a risk because passengers can spread the disease into communitie­s across the world after disembarka­tion.

Carnival Cruise Line said it is still determinin­g what specific measures it will take to prevent future outbreaks once it resumes sailing.

“We continue to engage with the CDC and government officials at a variety of levels about new protocols we would implement prior to a return to sailing,” the company said. “We will also be in discussion­s with officials in the destinatio­ns we visit.”

Tara Smith, a professor of epidemiolo­gy at Kent State University’s College of Public Health, said she’s not sure how cruising can be done safely. Even with reduced capacity, she said, ventilatio­n systems can still spread droplets through enclosed spaces.

“Everything would still have to be distanced,” she said. “Dancing, concerts on board, other types of entertainm­ent? Doubtful. Pools? Probably overcrowde­d. Dining? No idea how they’d do it.”

Carnival said passengers will get refunds or vouchers for future travel if their cruises are canceled.

Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line is the largest brand owned by Carnival Corp., which also owns Princess, Holland America Line and other brands. Carnival Cruise Line has 27 ships and transporte­d 5 million passengers last year.

Other cruise companies are also making plans to return to service. Royal Caribbean says it intends to resume at least some sailings on June 12, while Norwegian Cruise Like plans to restart some operations on July 1.

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