Carnival Cruise Line is adding more ships to its restart plans, this time for the first two months of 2022.
Carnival on Wednesday announced that Carnival Sunshine will restart out of Charleston, S.C. on Jan. 13 and Carnival Liberty will do the same out of Port Canaveral, Fla. on Feb. 11.
Both of the ships could feature more families onboard as Carnival president Christine Duffy said that the team is “optimistic that vaccines will be approved for children between the ages of 45-11 before the end of the year and we look forward to welcoming more families on board.”
The plan for Carnival is still to have its entire fleet in the water by spring of next year. With both Liberty and Sunshine sailing, Carnival now only has three remaining U.S.-based ships to restart—Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Paradis, and Carnival Sensation.
It also has some international ships that haven’t yet hit the water—Carnival Splendor and Carnival Spirit, both of which are scheduled to sail out of Australia when they do restart.
Speaking a couple of weeks ago, Carnival Corp. president Arnold Donald spoke about how Carnival Cruise Line was outpacing the other Carnival brands when it came to the post-COVID restart. Carnival Cruise Line has achieved occupancy above 70%, with a vaccination mandate in place since Aug. 28, and has restarted more ships out of the United States than any other cruise brand. That includes news last month that Carnival was once again sailing out of New Orleans.
And, even with the uncertainty surrounding the full restart, and limitations on the guest experience onboard, Carnival Corp. is seeing strong demand.
Bookings for cruises at the beginning of 2023 have already been opened up “with strong demand and good prices,” Donald said, and 2024 sailings have already started to open.
Deposits on bookings beyond 12 months are three times what they typically are. That high demand is the most encouraging thing for Carnival Corp., and for the cruise industry, Donald said, and it’s not just coming from past guests.
“The most important thing is that there is pent-up demand. People are very interested in the cruise experience, not just repeat cruise-goers, but we're seeing lots of new to brand and new cruisers booking. And so that's a very positive sign,” Donald said.