Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp., the parent company to Carnival Cruise Line, on a company earnings call Wednesday said that while the cruise company would prefer to port stateside, “if we're unable to sail obviously, we will consider home porting elsewhere."
His comment came after Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy's said the line may be forced to pull the line's vessels from their U.S. homeports if the agency continues to prevent the restart of domestic cruising and is extending the suspension of U.S. operations through the end of June.
“In terms of whether we would consider sailing or homeporting out of the Caribbean, Carnival is really America’s original cruise line,” Donald said. “Part of that is the drive-to market capability is access for people. We have 14 homeports in the U.S. and nobody else has anything that.”
"It's sooner rather than later that we might have to announce some additional homeporting outside of the U.S.," Donald said. "We're trying to hold back on that. I continue to be very much focused on working with the CDC and the administration to come up with a solution that works for American workers and the American public."
"We want to share the optimism that we can be sailing in July, and I think we can," Donald said.
Donald said he expects the fleet to come back staggered, with a few ships of a brand brought back at a time. “Hopefully, if we we’re good to go and destinations were all up and running, and we have all the various itineraries, ideally we’d like to be able to have the fleet fully going by the end of this year and early next year. That’s our aspiration.”
The company said bookings for future cruises rose 90% in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the final quarter 2020, " reflecting both the significant pent-up demand and long-term potential for cruising," Donald said.
Cumulative advanced bookings for the full-year 2022 “are ahead of a very strong 2019, despite minimal advertising or marketing.”
Donald noted that the six of the corporation’s brands have already resumed operations or announced plans to restart this summer with nine ships, including Carnival's Aida brand in the Canary Islands; Costa Cruises from Italy in May; and P&O, Princess and Cunard sailing domestic cruises for U.K. residents in June.