When Carnival Cruise Line announced they would be canceling all cruises from the home ports of Miami and Port Canaveral, many people’s thoughts went to their December cruises. What will happen to cruises booked from the homeports in December, and is it even reasonable to think that Carnival will be cruising this year?
We look at the complexity that Carnival Cruise Line has to navigate to offer a cruise in December, what measures are needed, how much depends on the CDC and White House decisions, and what efforts will be needed to get the crew to the vessels.
One thing we can tell you already; Even if there is a Carnival Cruise this year, it won’t be as we knew it before.
Implementing Procedures On Board The Ships
While it might seem easy enough to implement the procedures and protocols necessary onboard the vessels, this is the most challenging part.
The embarkation procedures, setting up online check-in systems, ensuring that these are thoroughly tested to ensure they work will take a lot of time and effort. There need to be luggage sanitation stations, where everyone’s luggage can be disinfected.
Most importantly, cruise lines will need to train hundreds of people in conducting COVID-19 tests for thousands of cruise passengers, and ensure these tests are back within the hour.
Onboard the implementation ranges from setting up social distancing throughout the vessel, measuring how far tables are apart, setting up sunbeds with social distancing in mind, and setting up a digital restaurant system that will work on everyone’s smartphone. The list is endless.
Yes, there is a structure that is in place in Europe that seems to be working just fine. However, this works in Europe. There is no-one that knows for sure that the U.S. authorities and the CDC will approve these procedures.
Carnival will need to take the European procedures under advisement but start from scratch and under the CDC’s advisement. Potentially the Healthy Sail Panel’s recommendation will be fully approved, but that remains to be seen.
The Decisions Of The CDC Will Decide Everything
All the talk about the CDC is not for nothing. While they have received their fair share of criticism, the fact remains that the final say on whether cruising in the United States resumes lies solely with the CDC and Director Robert Redfield.
The cruise lines have been making plans to resume cruising for many months now. And each time they have been stopped by the CDC. It has been made very clear by Director Redfield that he would rather see a No Sail Order until February.
If it wasn’t for the White House’s veto on the matter, the No Sail Order until February would be in place.
So what if the White House orders the CDC to open? The possibility is there that the White House could ask the CDC to do so, whether the White House has any legal standing in this regard remains to be seen.
Getting Crew To The Ship Is Not As Easy As It Seems
Hypothetically, if the CDC announces tomorrow that cruising is allowed immediately, how long would it take Carnival to have ships crewed and ready to go?
Most Carnival ships have crew members that come from such countries as the Philippines, India, South Africa, and countries in Middle and South America. These are precisely the countries which have strict measures in place.
Let’s take the Philippines as an example: A crew member living in a province outside of Metro Manila would need to travel to Manila to have all documents arranged. They will need permits from the government to travel, this alone takes several days to a week to arrange.
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Once in Manila, it will take another week or so for COVID testing and quarantine, and add another week to arrange all documents.
From the moment the crew member gets the call to travel, it will be at least two weeks to the moment they fly. If crew members are allowed onboard, another Quarantine and COVID test awaits them. Only then will the crew be allowed to go to work and start training for all the new procedures.
This means a minimum of one month, but most likely much longer, to get the crew ready. The one month does not account for the possibility of infection amongst crew members.
So, Will I Be Able To Take A Carnival Cruise In December?
Like we said at the beginning of this article, it won’t be the same. Yes, you might be able to take a cruise. However, this depends on so many factors, which all need to have people willing to make the decisions needed, that it seems unlikely at best.
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