Members & Travel Agents As you know many cruise companies have been promoting and announcing ‘vaccinated cruises.’ We have not really heard Carnival taking a stand on vaccinated cruises. What are your thoughts on a vaccinated-only cruise approach? Our thoughts are very simple: this is all evolving. If you went back six months ago and established protocols, that was a completely different environment. Vaccines have just been introduced. Distribution is still uneven. Today children aren’t even eligible, which will hopefully change soon. So, we’re letting it evolve. We’ve announced some selected sailings, but not a brand policy for any brand, where all guests are vaccinated by choice for some sailings, like in the U.K. and with Seabourn’s sailings in Greece and Barbados. We also have cruises that started before the vaccine where nobody was vaccinated, and they’ve gone safely with a different set of protocols. We’ll see how it all plays out, but today we as companies don’t have direct access to vaccines. A number of islands in the Caribbean have been gracious to suggest they would help us to vaccinate crew, but the vaccines are not available to us. Hopefully that will change; everybody thinks there will be plenty of vaccines available soon, we hope so because we encourage everyone to get vaccinated. But we’re not at a point yet to declare anything to be mandatory. Everyone keeps asking exactly what the onboard and excursion protocols will be once cruising resumes, especially with vaccinated guests possibly on board with non-vaccinated guests and further complicated by crew that may or may not be fully vaccinated. What will these protocols look like? I can share what exists today, but it’s going to change. Hopefully whatever protocols the destinations are establishing, they’re going to do it in a manner where it can adapt to the realities as society moves forward. But today, where we have no vaccinated people on board a few months back, we had universal testing prior to or 28 SECOND QUARTER 2021 | TRAVEL & CRUISE
of the flu, but if we learn to live with it and manage it, then we’ll be okay.
“WE BELIEVE THAT IF YOU FOLLOW THE SCIENCE, THEN CRUISE WILL BE FINE…” at embarkation. We had testing capability on board, additional medical screening, physical distancing, mask wearing and enhanced air handling and sanitization protocols. Then of course protocols for handling any incidents, with isolation protocols and a quick exit from the ship to a facility where people could be treated. We’ve had things for excursions where similarly to all of our crew needing testing, the tour providers all need to be tested along with our protocols of mask wearing, physical distancing, etc., as well as following a certain route to stay in the ‘bubble.’ That’s today – tomorrow, if people have vaccines, how much of that will be required remains to be seen and will be informed by the medical experts and in compliance of what the rules are wherever we go. What will occupancy look like? Initially, occupancy on sailings will be lower so that the crew can get used to handling everything. Then thereafter it will ramp up, assuming that community spread is low in the places we’re going and we have some decent proportion of the guests and crew vaccinated. In the near term we also need to consider physical distancing, so it may be a little while, maybe next year, before we see 115-120% occupancy. It all depends on how this virus migrates around the world and to what extent it has been contained and people are not at risk to serious effects. The fewer we see deaths, long-term effects and hospitalizations, the more we can feel comfortable. I don’t think COVID-19 is going away, with it likely becoming like a variant
What message do you have our destination partners, and what can they be doing as they prepare for the return of cruising? Thank you for weathering the storm to this point – I know it has been extremely challenging. Economies have been devastated. We had to repatriate 90,000 crew members back home. It’s been painful for us to have furloughs and workforce reductions – so the first thing is that we’re all in this together because we are partners. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we have to get to it. So, thank you for weathering to this point, and please continue to work with us so we get through it together. The second thing is to please pay attention to the science, not just the emotions and fears, while knowing you have to deal with public sentiment as well. But please be grounded in what the science and facts are and then do your best to stay as close to that as possible because that’s the best path forward for all of us. And tell us what you need from us and what you expect from us so we can be prepared to try to honor that. Last question. We used to ask you what keeps you up at night. Now, has that changed? I would always give a flip answer in the past, like a Netflix show or replay of a game, before the serious answer that used to be the only thing that really bothers me is if people are afraid to travel or can’t travel. Well, what happened? Bottomline is now what keeps me up at night are only positive things because I’m never having another negative thought. What keeps me up is being excited about the joy, the exuberance, bringing people together, of them learning what they have in common and celebrating their differences – the human spirit and elevating experience of travel. The excitement of that is what keeps me up at night, especially having those experiences on a cruise.