Carnival Cruise Line on Monday released a video from its president Christine Duffy. In the video, which included a number of updates, Duffy talks about the efforts that Carnival is making with its travel advisors partners, including what it is doing to help speed-along the refund and commission payment processes.
“First let me apologize for those who have had challenges with refunds and commissions,” she said.
Duffy added the refunds for FIT bookings are “working pretty smoothly at this point” and a lot of that process has been automated to get refunds within two-weeks. Group bookings are taking a little longer, some taking as long as 60 to 90 days.
For commissions, Duffy said that Carnival remains committed to honoring commissions both on bookings cancelled by Carnival and on the final fully paid rebooking when a FCC is redeemed on an active sailing.
Duffy admitted that the process to do that requires “a lot of work and manual intervention” because of the volume and because of some mistakes made by advisors who are submitted commission requests that aren’t eligible (over-one third of the volume, Duffy said).
“The commission payments are taking time to process…we understand that commission is your lifeblood and we are very focused on ensuring that 100% of commission protection are completed,” she said.
Duffy said Carnival now has a team of experts reviewing “every booking” impacted by the pandemic, to double-check that commission-protection was accurately applied and that Carnival pays any missing commission.
“I want to say thank you again for your partnership, for your feedback, and your collaboration, as we have worked through the processes,” she said.
Duffy also provided an update on the Carnival fleet, which has also been changed during the COVID-19 shutdown. Four Fantasy-class ships have left the Carnival fleet and the cruise line has finished scheduling dry-dock periods for a number of others that had been postponed because of COVID-19.
That dry-dock rescheduling means that Carnival Magic, Carnival Valor, Carnival Paradise, and Carnival Spirit will return to the fleet in the first half of 2021.
Carnival Mardi Gras, one of the most anticipated ships of 2020 and one of Carnival’s most anticipated ships ever, is set to arrive by the end of 2020 still, Duffy said. The plan right now is to have Mardi Gras make its debut sailing out of Port Canaveral in February 2021 after Carnival receives delivery in 2020.
“I can assure you she is going to be a fabulous, new ship.”
Carnival Celebration, the sister-ship to Mardi Gras that was announced in June, will be based in Miami when it debuts in 2022 in time for Carnival’s 50th birthday.
As to when Carnival will resume cruising, Duffy said that “I wish I had a crystal ball, but I don’t.”
“All I can say is that we are working very hard with great urgency, with government and public health officials so that we can resume cruising whenever the time is right. The increasing availability of testing with faster results and greater accessibility are all critical in order for us to be able to operate at scale.”
Duffy said news of a possible vaccine, and more insights into how COVID-19 is transmitted and more, will allow Carnival to build those protocols and procedures it needs to be able to return.
Duffy also said to expect Carnival to resume sailing with a gradual, phased-in approach, to optimize demand and performance.
“Remember, even after the no-sail order is lifted and even after we begin cruising, it will take time for a full recovery back to our 2019 levels.”