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Carnival Considers Shifting Home Ports if US Sailing Ban Not Lifted

© Tamme / Adobe Stock

By Uday Sampath Kumar

Carnival Corp may shift home ports of its cruise ships to other parts of the world if a ban on sailing from the United States is not lifted, Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald said on Wednesday.

Cruise ships in the United States remain under a "no-sail order", and Carnival has said recent guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on resuming voyages, including ensuring all passengers are vaccinated, are "largely unworkable".

Donald said on Wednesday that Carnival was still working with the CDC on a "practical" approach to resume voyages, but reiterated that the company has not taken a position on mandating vaccines for passengers.

"If we're unable to sail, then obviously we will consider home porting elsewhere," Donald said on a call with analysts.

His comments came after the world's largest cruise operator said booking volumes accelerated during the first quarter due to pent-up demand, sending its shares 3% higher.

Rivals Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd and Royal Caribbean Group have said they would restart sailing directly from the Caribbean later this year with vaccinated passengers. Most Caribbean cruises have generally set sail from Florida.

Carnival, which operates out of 14 ports in the United States, reported a first-quarter loss of nearly $2 billion, but said bookings during the period were about 90% higher than volumes during the fourth quarter of 2020.

Advance bookings for 2022 are stronger than they had been for 2019, the company said.

"Carnival's 2022 bookings are currently ahead of pre-pandemic levels - proving that demand for cruising isn't completely dead," Hargreaves Lansdown equity analyst Laura Hoy wrote in a note.

"Now the group just has to stay afloat long enough to capture it."

(Reporting by Uday Sampath; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Sriraj Kalluvila)

Apr 7, 2021


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