Carnival Cruise Line said it reached an agreement with the Canaveral Port Authority to build a new terminal for the 5,286-passenger ship Carnival plans to deploy in 2020.
The 180,000-gross ton ship is 34% larger than Carnival’s most recent vessel, the 134,000-ton Carnival Horizon.
Carnival noted that the vessel will offer “an array of groundbreaking, never-before-seen features and attractions,” while also being the first North American-based cruise ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas.
Further ship details, along with itineraries from Port Canaveral, are expected to be announced in 2019.
The ship is the second recent newbuild set to debut outside of Miami, where Carnival’s newest ships are typically based. Next year, the Carnival Panorama will debut in Long Beach, Calif., which will be its year-round homeport.
Carnival said it currently has three year-round ships based in Port Canaveral carrying upwards of 650,000 passengers a year. In October, the six-year-old Carnival Breeze will be repositioned from Galveston to homeport at Port Canaveral as well.
The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) inspects cruise ships that visit U.S. ports to check their sanitation and hygiene conditions and grades them on a scale of 1 to 100. Most ships get a passing grade of 86 or higher, which was why it was so surprising that four ships from Carnival Cruise Line received unsatisfactory grades in a two-month period from Nov. 11 to Jan. 4. Two of the four, the Carnival Breeze and the Vista, are Carnival’s two newest ships. The others were the Carnival Triumph and the Liberty. The three ships that were graded under 86 in 2017 represent nearly 20% of all the ships that failed in 2017, out of a total of 256 inspections. Cruise editor Tom Stieghorst spoke with cruise line president Christine Duffy about the run of failures.
Q: How do you account for it? I can’t think of a year in which four ships from a single line were graded unsatisfactory, much less four in two months.
A: Neither can we. Obviously, it was very concerning to all of us. We have a dedicated shoreside team that manages the work with USPHS and then teams onboard the ships. We’ve always been very proud of the scores that we’ve gotten.
Q: What do you say to passengers?
A: I think the most important thing to say is that the findings have really not compromised public health.
Q: Are there specific issues that produced those low scores?
A: While there’s a lot of retraining, and refocus and re-emphasise that we are taking care of, based on some of the scores, a lot of it has been administrative inconsistencies, and also issues where we have been asked to replace certain equipment. So there’s different standards and different equipment that we are replacing. But it takes some time from that point to the time when we’ll be able to get it onboard the ships. That is all in process. Some of it may be coffee pots, … salad bowls.
Q: Were all the Carnival ships inspected during November and December graded unsatisfactory?
A: Carnival Glory and Carnival Pride were also inspected during this time and got scores of 99 and 95, [respectively].
Q: How alarmed should people be about the “unsatisfactory” label?
A: I think some of this is reminding people that a passing score is 86, which is a pretty high bar. Failure doesn’t actually indicate any unsanitary or public health concern. Obviously, if there were, we wouldn’t be able to sail. There’s been no disruption to any of our guests.
As you know, we are the only industry in hospitality that is in a program where it’s voluntary. We pay for all the services that USPHS provides. I think when the program began, it was with the idea that setting the pass/fail at 86 would make sure that all the cruise lines and cruise ships would get information before there was ever a problem, to be able to address it.
Q: One problem that seemed to occur on several ships was the crew working while they were ill. What can you do to discourage sick crew members from working?
A: Some of that was actually people who were not filling out the forms before they were coming back to work. That became a deduction in points. We have reiterated to all of our crew members, to the medical team onboard, to our department managers, that if someone is sick we don’t want them working. The last thing we want is to have any issues that would create a public health concern or an outbreak. Fortunately, we have not had those, so clearly, again, I think some of this is we need to do a tighter job on the documentation when someone was writing in and signing out, and so those were part of the administrative inconsistencies that have caused these failures.
Carnival Cruise Line has now canceled two cruises from Galveston that it had hoped to offer in a shortened format.
Based on the uncertainty of the port reopening, Carnival said the Aug. 26 sailing of Carnival Freedom and the Aug. 27 departure of Carnival Breeze have been canceled.
Carnival, which had previously canceled the five-day Carnival Valor sailing from Galveston departing Aug. 26, also canceled the next Carnival Valor cruise leaving Aug. 31.
Guests will have a full refund processed to the original form of payment within three weeks, and will receive a 25% future cruise credit if a reservation is made in the next 60 days.
Coast Guard and port officials can’t say with any certainty when the port will reopen, Carnival added, but suggested it won’t be until late this week at the earliest.
The three Carnival ships will make stops in New Orleans during the next two days to let guests disembark if they want to make independent arrangements to return home. They can also wait and sail back to Galveston, Carnival said.