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Carnival Cruise Line Set Sail for First Time Since COVID-19 Pandemic – Here’s What They Got Wrong and Tips to Get it Right.

Carnival Cruise Line

A Carnival cruise ship recently departed from California – it was the first time in 17 months.

Last March, the Carnival Panorama was stranded and docked in Long Beach, California’s harbor. Nearly 4,000 passengers were held on board until the guest could test for the novel coronavirus. The cruise line canceled travel – until this past weekend, that is.

On Saturday, August 21, Carnival Cruise announced the Panorama would be the “first cruise operator to resume sailing from California since the industry-wide pause in operations.” It’s a seven-day cruise where passengers will visit  Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.

The ship returned with more than a few hiccups from passengers and the press…

A rough return

Carnival’s most recent sail has faced criticism for safety concerns and delayed travel.

Before the ship set sail, the company touted its “Have Fun. Be Safe. COVID-19 Guest Protocols.” The document states guests must provide proof of an “approved COVID-19 vaccine administered 14 days before,” and a negative PCR test three days before travel.

Carnival also publicly announced 95 percent of its crew has been fully vaccinated prior to sail. Although it’s unclear how it happened, multiple guests tested positive for COVID-19, according to Cruise Law News, a news site run by Miami-based maritime attorney Jim Walker.

To complicate matters further, the Long Beach Post reported the ship was “slowed by technical issues,” and arrived a day later than expected.

Carnival contributes millions of dollars to the California state economy in passenger fees and other travel expenses. The issues encountered on this first sail may create further issues for the cruise industry to return to normal operations.

Tips to ensure a “safe travel”

Carnival capped guest occupancy at 75 percent, according to news reports. The ship can house 4,000 passengers but only allowed 3,500 on board.

The evidence reveals Carnival certainly made an attempt at safety precautions. Cruising during the COVID era is still new and far from flawless.

Dr. Luis Ostrosky, infectious disease professor at the University of Texas, Houston recently told CNBC “Even on a good day outside of the pandemic, cruises are challenging environments from an infection-control.”

To further the problem, cruise lines are fighting with politicians to make their planned safety precautions legal. CNBC also reported Florida Governor Ron Desantis banned vaccine passports throughout the state.

That makes it tougher for companies like Norweigian and Disney fighting for a long-term safety plan.

Dr. Preeti Malani, a different health expert, and professor at Michigan University gave CNBC tips on cruise travel. The NBCUniversal-owned business publication reported getting fully vaccinated before travel is a place to start.

Malani recommended sticking to cruise lines – like Carnival – mandating vaccine requirements, CNBC reported. Malani does conclude to CNBC guests are “traveling at their own risk.” That means you need to go above and beyond to ease the stress and think of you and your staff as what the GEM Journal calls “hospitality heroes.”

Apply all CDC-recommended travel precautions. Clean to the highest standards, ensure your guests’ comfort and safety are key to lowering stress during this tough time.

Smile, be patient and go above all expectations to bring the best experience to your guests. Now is the time to reinforce humanity in hospitality.