Many eyes are on the cruise line industry as it reels from the impacts of coronavirus. And, as The Winglest reports here, too, things are starting to look up because last week, Carnival Cruise Lines announced it was scheduling its return to the sea for August 1, just a few days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to lift their "do not sail" order.
And in a stunning twist, according to American Express travel franchise Cruise Planners, cruise bookings skyrocketed 600% over 3 days after the announcement. That was in comparison to the 3 days prior to the announcement. And in the latest confirmation that fears about the coronavirus are rapidly receding, Carnival said bookings saw a 200% year over year increase.
Of course, this is largely dependent on the CDC lifting its current sailing restriction currently in place until July 24. Carnival said earlier this week that cruises "could potentially operate if it was determined that cruising can resume." The cruise company announced possible cruises departing from Miami, Galveston, and Port Canaveral. All other North American and Australian homeport cruises are cancelled through August 31.
One reason for the demand surge is that Carnival is offering cruises at incredibly reduced rates. As an example, Passengers can book a cruise from Miami in August for as low as $119 for a four-day cruise. The cruise line is even offering an eight-day cruise for $519. Those rates are likely a significant draw for people looking to book a cruise.
While the number is a small sampling, but it may show a ray of light for the industry in an otherwise tumultuous time. Cruises are considered Petri dishes of infection, given the close contact between customers for extended periods of time.
As the Winglet notes, Carnival is already facing a Congressional investigation for its handling of coronavirus outbreaks on its ships. Congress also criticized the cruise line for its advertising during the pandemic. At one point Diamond Princess had the highest cluster of COVID-19 cases outside of China. That ship is owned by Carnival subsidiary Princess Cruises.
Carnival said earlier this week it is focusing operations on homeports that are largely accessible by car. But the cruise line cautioned, "We continue to work with various government agencies, including the CDC, as we introduce new onboard protocols, but there is no assurance of a return on August 1.” Therefore, this is clearly a book-at-your-own-risk scenario.
This means that those who can't wait to book a cruise, should become intimiately familiar with the cruise line’s cancellation policy, should the August 1 departure date be scuttled. Carnival has different cancellation options based on the length of your cruise:
Cruises six or more days:
- Option 1: 100% future cruise credit and $600 onboard credit per stateroom.
- Option 2: 100% refund
Cruises five days or less:
- Option 1: 100% future cruise credit and $300 onboard credit per stateroom.
- Option 2: 100% refund
One must book a cruise by 12/31/2020 to get the onboard credit, and the cruise departure date must be by 12/31/2022. Keep in mind, cruise lines change these policies frequently and you will want to make sure you understand any updated policy before booking.