Carnival Cruise Line is planning to set sail again on August 1, floating the promise of steeply discounted travel ($28 per night!) to lure people back to its ships. It will be the first major operator to resume cruising in the age of COVID-19, and it will set sail from Miami; Galveston, Texas; and Port Canaveral, Florida.
This despite the fact that the number of coronavirus cases shows no sign of abating in the U.S. About half the states are now in some stage of reopening, which is music to the ears of many organizations that were shuttered or slowed due to shelter-in-place orders, including cruise ships. The sector was among the hardest hit—particularly in Florida—when the State Department issued a stern warning that U.S. travelers, especially those with underlying health conditions, should refrain from taking cruises. That was after nightmare scenarios in which ships from major cruise lines were either denied docking or found to have sick passengers.
So are travelers actually itching to get on an ocean liner, even later in the summer? A Harris Poll that tracked Americans’ attitudes about the pandemic suggests that plenty are ready to take the risk. Right now, 85% of respondents said they would stop traveling domestically. However, the data indicated that a surprising number of consumers would consider taking a cruise in the near future once the government provides information that the spread of the virus is flattening, and many wouldn’t wait that long:
- 33% would wait up to 6 months
- 22% would wait up to 3 months
- 12% would take one immediately or within the first 30 days
At the same time, more than 1 in 10 of those surveyed has lost income entirely and a majority (65%) say that the economic crisis will have a greater impact on them personally than the virus itself. Carnival may have to discount those tickets even more to entice the newly unemployed to set sail.