Carnival Cruise Line Likely Won't See Full Passenger Capacity Until 2022

The company will also be removing 13 ships from its fleet.

cruise ship in Venice
Photo: Carnival Corporation

Carnival Cruise Line likely won’t sail at full capacity until 2022 — at the earliest — according to the company’s CEO.

Carnival, which has extended its cancellation of future sailings and pushed back the inaugural journeys of new and renovated ships, is planning a phased restart over the coming months.

"[The] nature of restart is going to be almost country by country and destination by destination," Carnival’s CEO Arnold Donald said on a media call on Friday, according to USA Today, adding the company likely won’t see a return to full capacity for passengers until 2022.

In fact, Donald said he expects ships to “start at less than 50% occupancy.”

Carnival — voted one of Travel + Leisure’s best cruise lines for families for 2020 — has also planned to expedite the removal of several ships from its fleet during the 2020 fiscal year, according to the company. This affects 13 ships, which were previously expected to be sold over several years, creating a nearly 9 percent reduction in capacity.

Carnival pushed back the inaugural sailing of its new ship, the Mardi Gras, to 2021 after it was originally scheduled to sail in November. In general, the cruise line has extended its monthslong suspension until September 30. Carnival initially suspended its service for 30 days on March 13.

In a statement, Donald said the company was “working hard to resume operations while serving the best interests of public health with our way forward informed through consultation with medical experts and scientists from around the world."

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended its “No-Sail Order,” advising U.S. citizens to avoid cruising, some people can’t wait to get back on a ship. For Carnival, that has translated to continued demand with new bookings accounting for nearly 60 percent of the 2021 bookings made in the first three weeks of June, USA Today noted.

Cruisers appear to be opting for shorter cruises over longer ones, especially those lasting longer than 21 days.

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