Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, joins editor-in-chief of Porthole Cruise Magazine, Bill Panoff, to discuss the latest news in cruise and Carnival Corporation's response to COVID-19, including what's ahead for the company and cruise industry overall. Donald spoke to the resilience of an industry that was in the midst of unprecedented growth for the past 10 years before the unexpected spread of COVID-19 sent cruise lines into a holding pattern.
"One reason this lockdown has been hard on everybody is [it is] also taking them away from the people and the experiences they value the most, and cruising is such a big part of that for so many people. We live, in cruise, in the hearts of millions of people."
When asked if he was surprised by the eagerness of cruisers to get back on board, Donald spoke to the value many people place on the relationships and experiences in their lives.
"I think that this whole experience with shelter in place, stay-at-home, has helped a lot of people to slow down and focus on what's important in their lives: family, friends, having experiences," he said.
Valuable Cruise Partnerships
Donald noted that partnerships with travel professionals will be an important part of returning the industry to normal. A collaborative effort will help Carnival Corporation and its nine cruise line brands reach their goal of coming out of this situation stronger than ever before. Partnerships with cruise and travel professionals around the world can strengthen the knowledge and understanding of the many health protocols already in place to keep cruise passengers safe while enjoying their vacation, and also inform cruisers of what the cruise lines will be doing to further enhance procedures and protocols to provide a healthy and safe experience.
A pause in operation hasn't just affected cruise lines. Ports all over the world rely on revenue brought in by cruise ships, particularly in the Caribbean. Donald explained that speaking with officials from ports and local governments in recent months makes it clear the region is anxious for a return to normalcy. Communication between ports and cruise lines will be key for a safe and effective industry restart.
Donald acknowledged that the upcoming release of Mardi Gras from the corporation's Carnival Cruise Line brand would come later than scheduled, but he said that once the ship is delivered, cruisers would love the new and improved version of the Carnival brand's classic ship.
He also touched on the corporation's investment in a new cruise terminal in Dubai and why cruisers unfamiliar with the region should be excited for the chance to experience a place full of unique culture, exquisite cuisine and a rich history with plenty of places to explore.
Donald also discussed how the current pandemic is a once-in-a-generation event, and that people around the world are doing their best to navigate through the global health crisis as the situation evolves, using the best information available at any given time.
The discussion also touched on whether Carnival Corporation had received cash bailout from the government, with Donald noting that the company "received no bailout from the U.S. government in any shape, form or fashion" and instead raised funding on its own in the event of an extended pause.
Regarding the timing of the company's and industry's decision to pause cruise operations on March 13, Donald said it was a move made "to stand with everyone in trying to mitigate the spread of this virus."
Explained Donald: "Before virtually anyone else in the travel and hospitality industry, we made the decision, voluntarily, to stop all our cruises. ... Never before in the history of our company, of our industry, have we stopped all our ships like that. It was an enormously consequential decision that we knew would be difficult."
Added Donald: "There will be a lot of analyzing of how everybody handled their COVID-19 response. Countries, cities, businesses, transportation in general and I know we're going to look at ourselves to look at everything we did, to learn from it, to develop best practices going forward so hopefully it'll never happen again. But in the unlikely event we have to deal with something like this again, we would have learned from this one and be able to handle it even better the next time."
Part 1 of the interview can be found here: https://youtu.be/FNxgDEpinJs
Part 2 of the interview can be found here: https://youtu.be/VdsxqVAECOI
About Porthole Cruise MagazinePorthole Cruise Magazine the world's leading cruise travel magazine, now in its 24th year, is published bimonthly and is available worldwide on newsstands as well as by both print and digital subscriptions. Featuring a wide range of cruise content for both first-time and experienced cruisers, each issue includes ship reviews, destination features, and stories about cruise trends, food and wine, spa and well-being, entertainment, kids' activities, and other onboard amenities. To learn more, visit Porthole.com and connect with @PortholeCruise on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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SOURCE Porthole Magazine