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Carnival cruises: No more ships in Progreso until (maybe) November

Optimistic April itineraries bypass Yucatan state

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Cruise ships dock at Puerto Progreso. Photo: Yucatan Ministry of Tourism

Progreso’s most frequently spotted cruise line isn’t planning to return to the Yucatán port until November.

An updated list of Carnival’s 2021 ports of call named Costa Maya and Cozumel on the Caribbean side of the Peninsula, but it won’t dock in Progreso until Nov. 1 — if at all.

The pandemic halted cruise-ship travel in April, leaving Yucatán’s tourist sector without a huge chunk of its revenue. Cruise lines had planned for a busy 2020 until coronavirus made such travel problematic.

A tentative schedule issued by Carnival Cruise Line has as many as 17 ships back in service as soon as April 1 when the Ecstasy takes a four-night trip from Florida to Nassau and Freeport. On April 3, the Carnival Sensation leaves Mobile, Alabama for a five-night cruise with stops in Cozumel and Costa Maya.

Carnival would send back an old friend — the Valor — if conditions warrant this fall. Its sister ship, the Fantasy, was the last to pull into port last March.

The Valor made headlines at the time when a passenger who had passed through Yucatán returned home to Ohio and tested positive for coronavirus a week later. Fellow passengers were urged to get tested.

If all these itineraries are eventually ditched, it won’t be the first time.

The cruise industry was filled with optimism in November. Not only did the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention lift its no-sail order, but test cruises were planned for a January restart of seafaring travel.

More than 150,000 people signed up for the test cruises onboard Royal Caribbean ships, while a related Facebook page quickly gained 63,000 followers.

But as of mid-January, there was no sign of any ships even preparing to sail on test cruises.

Carnival CEO Arnold Donald told investors this week that the company has weekly calls with the CDC. But the agency has not provided cruise operators with guidelines on the test sailings has so far delayed proceedings.

The second wave of COVID-19 infections further puts the 2021 cruises in doubt. Even ships sailing for many months have stopped operating in Europe and are not expected to start again until the end of January, according to Cruise Hive.

The trade site speculated that the CDC is waiting to see what President-elect Joe Biden does after already stating that he will be extremely tough on how he will deal with the virus, especially for the first 100 days of his presidency.

“Why would the CDC allow test cruises now, if they might just be canceled again later?” Cruise Hive wrote.

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