Carnival Corporation is ready to restart cruise operations but remains unable to announce a start date for most markets or give guidance on possible timing.
However, Carnival Corporation chief executive Arnold Donald promised “great days of growth whether we start in April or June or whenever”.
Speaking as Carnival reported a net loss of $2.2 billion for the three months to November, Donald said: “We hope to have all our ships operating by the end of 2021, but we’re still navigating through this thing.”
Carnival lines Costa Cruises in Italy and Aida Cruises in Germany resumed limited operations last summer and Donald said: “We are working towards resuming operations in the US, Asia, the UK and other markets.
“We intend to resume operations with a limited fleet and lower occupancy levels. But our aim is to have our whole fleet back operating by the end of this year.”
Donald said: We’ve done a good job in Europe with Costa and Aida. We’re well positioned with nine brands.”
He noted many of the brands source most of their guests from the region in which they operate and said: “We have national fleets and that is a benefit. Each international brand can be started independently.”
In the US, Donald said: “The Centers for Disease Control [CDC] will make their determinations. We’ll have to see what evolves with vaccines and the acceleration of testing.
“Things change all the time. It’s the CDC’s call to make. We’ll have to see. We don’t have a date from the CDC on timing or further guidance.”
He added: “We expect protocols to continue to evolve.”
Donald insisted: “We want to resume cruising as soon as possible. [But] we’re in this for the long-term. We want to do it in the right way, in compliance with whatever the rules are.
“Whether we start cruising in April or June or whenever, we will back to great days of growth. A month here or there won’t determine the value of our business.”
Carnival chief financial officer David Bernstein said: “We’re working on the timing of test cruises. We brought 30 ships back to US waters to be in position to operate test cruises, and one more is expected.
“Those are the ships we expect to sail in US waters. But on timing we’re waiting for guidance from the CDC.”
The CDC published a Framework for Conditional Sailing at the end of October which sets out initial requirements for cruise operators.
However, in its results statement, Carnival said: “Many uncertainties remain as to the specifics, timing and cost of implementing the requirements.”
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