The Miami-based cruise giant on Wednesday said it would extend its 10-month-long halt to cruise operations through at least March 31 for all vessels.
In addition, the 24-ship line canceled sailings on its Galveston, Texas-based Carnival Freedom through April 10 and the West Coast-based Carnival Miracle through Sept. 16.
The line also announced intermittent cancellations for three other ships — Carnival Liberty, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Spirit — as far out as November.
Until Wednesday, Carnival only had canceled voyages fleetwide through the end of February.
The announcement comes as COVID-19 case counts continue to rise in the United States and the rollout of coronavirus vaccines in the country appears to be going slower than hoped.
The U.S. in recent days has been recording well over 200,000 new coronavirus cases per day.
Carnival and the rest of the cruise industry also are grappling with a roadmap for a return to cruising in U.S. waters issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that lays out a long period of testing and approvals before cruising can resume.
Nearly all Carnival ships operate in U.S. waters.
The CDC road map for a resumption of cruising in U.S. waters, issued in October as a “framework for conditional sailing” order, includes a testing period for new anti-COVID protocols on ships that have yet to begin and could extend well into February or March. After that, cruise operators can apply for what the CDC is calling a Conditional Sailing Certificate in a process that could take an additional 60 days.
Assuming the CDC sticks to the guidelines that it has laid out in the order, it could be April or May, at the earliest, before cruising resumes out of U.S. ports.
“We are sorry to disappoint our guests, as we can see from our booking activity that there is clearly a pent-up demand for cruising on Carnival,” Carnival president Christine Duffy said Wednesday in a statement accompanying the line’s announcement. “We appreciate their patience and support as we continue to work on our plans to resume operations in 2021 with a gradual, phased-in approach.”
In addition to the extended cancellations announced Wednesday, Carnival had previously announced long-term cancellations for sailings on three vessels that require maintenance in a dry dock — Carnival Paradise, Carnival Valor and Carnival Magic. Voyages on the three ships have been canceled through May 31, Sept. 11 and Sept. 24, respectively.
All cruise lines around the world halted departures in March of last year as the coronavirus outbreak grew and many have yet to restart operations. Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises and Holland America are among the major lines that haven’t operated a single departure since March.