Throughout the entire pandemic, Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald has remained stout in his belief that cruising will be back and better than ever before. Their have been plenty of developments since the last time he joined Porthole Cruise Founder and Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff for an interview. For one, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have now lifted their no-sail order and we’re much closer to the release of an effective vaccine for COVID-19 which many think will be a cure-all for not just the cruise industry, but travel all over the world.
We asked Mr. Donald his thoughts on getting the many Carnival brands back in action, how Costa and AIDA are faring in their restarts over in Europe and whether or not COVID-19 related expenses would be passed on to passengers.
His knowledge and position in the industry is what makes Arnold Donald one of the most important figures in cruising. It’s always an informative experience when he joins us for a discussion. Check out the full interview below!
Interview with Arnold Donald, CEO Carnival Corporation
With cruising’s return in Europe, Carnival has a few months head start on other brands on how to sail safely during the era of COVID-19. Both Costa and AIDA have completed successful cruises in the Mediterranean and through the fjords of Norway without issue and we asked Arnold Donald what passenger feedback has been like.
“The guests on board really appreciated the measures we took, but also felt that even with those measures in place, they were having a great cruise experience. In the end, it’s not just about being safe, that’s foundational, you have to be safe, but it’s also about having a great experience. Luckily for us, thanks to the hard work of our people and the open-mindedness of our guests, people followed the protocols, everything was managed well and the guest experience scores were really high,” he said.
Part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s requirements for conditional sailing include a plan in place for a scenario in which COVID-19 is found on board a ship. However, some are hesitant to book a cruise because they’re afraid of getting stuck on board in the event someone does test positive. Donald assured us that Carnival brands are preparing for all scenarios and that’s a concern they are taking seriously.
“We are not going to have people stuck sailing around for days at a time looking for a port. That’s not going to happen. We’re going to make sure, number one we don’t think we’re going to have the incidents on board because we’ll manage it, but in the event that something happens, there will be predetermined ways to make sure everyone is taken care of,” he said.
Will the cost of cruising go up in 2021?
You can find a great deal on a future cruise right now, but Porthole Cruise readers have been curious if the costs of cruising will go up as cruise lines become COVID-compliant per the CDC’s guidelines. Since there is such a demand from cruisers but a limited number of ships and itineraries to start, Donald doesn’t expect the great deals to last. Supply and demand means cruise lines won’t have to offer discounted sailings to get people on board.
“For the first time in who knows how long, we’re going to have very few ships initially sailing. Why? Because all the destinations won’t open at once. So there will be a limited number of itineraries that will probably open up regionally,” Donald said.
There will be plenty of looking back on the year 2020 and how we could have done things differently, but we asked Donald to look ahead ten years and discuss what his cruise conglomerate did for the industry. His answer revealed a lot about the priorities of the company.
“Doing the right thing. Our people repatriated over 80,000 crew members. We chartered flights, we moved our ships into waters that they normally wouldn’t be in to get people home. We had to do that not only in the face of cancelled airline schedules, but closed borders and immigration routes that were changing by the hour, let alone by the day.”
Check out the full interview with Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald below!