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Carnival cruises won’t return to Baltimore until at least March as coronavirus cases continue to rise

Carnival cruises won’t be returning to the Port of Baltimore until at least March as coronavirus cases continue to climb across the country.

The company announced Wednesday that it made the decision to cancel all cruises out of Baltimore so it can best comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended phased-in approach to resume guest operations.

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Last month the CDC lifted its no-sail order on cruises and replaced it with a “conditional sailing order” that is the beginning of a phased return to cruises. The new protocol begins with crew members only and outlines the need for extensive coronavirus testing and strict capacity restrictions to ensure social distancing.

William P. Doyle, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, said in an email at that time that the industry is focusing on opening cruise ports in Florida before expanding elsewhere.

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“Throughout this time, the Maryland Port Administration has been communicating with both Carnival and Royal Caribbean about their return to service in Baltimore,” Doyle said. “There is nothing more important to the MPA than making sure shoreside operations personnel, crew, and passengers are healthy and safe.”

Doyle said the administration is “looking forward” to the return of cruises and that in anticipation of the eventual return, plexiglass partitions have been added throughout the port along with distancing signage and plenty of hand sanitizing stations.

Before passengers can embark on travels again, the CDC said, the ships must “demonstrate adherence” to testing, quarantine, isolation and social distancing for crew. The ships also must build enough capacity to test crew and future passengers.

Eventually, the CDC said, other phases will include mock voyages with volunteers or crew playing the role of passengers to test the ship’s ability to mitigate COVID-19.

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