A surge in cruise bookings on the day after Carnival Cruise Line announced that it was relaxing its COVID-19 testing requirements proves there’s a “pent-up demand” for cruising that has not yet been satisfied, the cruise line said Tuesday.
On Friday, Carnival announced it would no longer require vaccinated passengers to take a COVID-19 test within three days of boarding cruises less than 16 days long, except on trips to Canada, Bermuda, Greece and Australia.
Unvaccinated passengers will no longer be required to submit to an “exemption request process” and will be allowed to board by simply presenting the results of a negative PCR or antigen test taken within three days of boarding, except on trips to Australia or trips 16 nights or longer. Children younger than 5 are exempt from all testing and vaccination requirements.
The new rules take effect on Sept. 6. On Monday, the first full business day after the announcement, bookings for Carnival cruises were twice as high as on the same date in 2019, the company said in a news release on Tuesday.
Aug. 15 fell on a Thursday in 2019, so the company compared two weekdays.
“Mid-August is typically not a busy month for cruise bookings, but it’s clear that pent-up demand for Carnival has not been satisfied and guests are responding very favorably to our updated protocols,” Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy said in a statement.
Prior to the announcement, bookings through the end of 2022 “have also been very solid,” she said, adding, “With the further alignment of protocols to other vacation choices, our guests are booking the remaining 2022 inventory, and are getting a head start planning for 2023.”
Most other major cruise lines have announced similar moves since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped monitoring cruise ships for COVID-19 cases last month.
Beginning Aug. 8, Royal Caribbean dropped its testing requirement for vaccinated passengers sailing less than six nights, but kept the requirement for unvaccinated passengers on all trips.
In an earnings report released on July 28, Royal Caribbean said that booking volumes in the second quarter for 2022 sailings were 30% higher than bookings during the comparable period in 2019.