Carnival Corp. has announced its lines will take a phased approach as they make their return to the high seas, meaning its vessels and brands will return to sailing over time rather than all at once.

“We are going to be patient in our approach and learn from best available information we are going to have before we sail,” Roger Frizzell, spokesman for Carnival Corp., told USA TODAY Thursday. 

“There is no formal schedule for return at this point,” Frizzell said, noting dates are not set for the phased returns to start despite the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s no-sail order’s expiration date approaching on July 24. 

Eight Carnival Cruise Line ships are scheduled to sail in August, but Frizzell noted “there has been no formal decision that those eight will sail, but they are not canceled at this point.”

The cruise world giant, which is parent to Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Seabourn, Cunard and of course, its flagship, Carnival Cruise Line, shared the news in their 2020 second quarter summary. Carnival Corp.’s full fleet contains well over 100 ships.

The company expects that initial sailings will depart from a number of “easily accessible” home ports.

No decisions have been made regarding how many people will be on board when the first ships set sail as the cruise giant is still working with health authorities, including the CDC, and experts to determine a return date, proper health protocols and ship capacity levels.

Some areas that may be subject to change include medical care, screening and testing, terminal protocol for arrival and departure, sanitization, boarding and disembarkation, onboard experiences and more. 

“There is certainly some time to finalize that while we are at a pause,” Frizzell said.

While it plans a slow resumption of previous operations, Carnival Corp. also expects delays to new ship deliveries, of which 16 are scheduled into 2025, according to its website.

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The company also intends to accelerate the removal of ships during 2020 that had been expected to be sold later and remove additional ships from its fleet. Six ships are set to be removed from Carnival Corp.’s fleet in the next 90 days. Frizzell did not identify which vessels would be leaving the fleet but said they are some of the oldest. 

Carnival is under investigation by the United States Congress for its handling of multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 on its ships, the governing body announced on May 1.

In addition to the Diamond Princess, which led to more than 700 coronavirus cases and 13 deaths, and Grand Princess, which had more than 100 cases and at at least 3 deaths, Carnival subsidiary Princess Cruises also had cases on the Ruby Princess and Coral Princess; Additionally, USA TODAY confirmed cases on Costa Cruises’ Costa Favolosa, Costa Luminosa; and on Holland America’s MS Zaandam, which are also owned by Carnival.

Carnival isn’t the only cruise company looking to make a phased return

In May, Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., said during an earnings call that Norwegian has been planning a phased relaunch.

He had estimated, at the time, that full resumption of operations could take up to six months across Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ 28 ships, which are spread across its three brands. But he expressed that it will take time and require cooperation with government and health authorities.

And Royal Caribbean’s CEO, Richard Fain, said getting ships back to sea will likely be a gradual process on an earnings call May 20.

“We don’t expect that this is going to be that someday somebody blows a horn and all the ships start operating right away,” Fain said. “We think that it will be a gradual start … a little like how society is opening up.”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Carnival cruises will return in phased approach with unclear timeline



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