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Nobody knows when cruises will restart anywhere, but their resumption is not likely to be uniform, Arnold Donald said

China could be one of first places cruising restarts: Carnival's Donald

China could be one of the first markets where cruises restart, Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corp. & plc, said Thursday.

That's because social gathering is resuming in China following containment of COVID-19.

Though some internal travel is still restricted, Shanghai is open. That city is the leading cruise gateway.

Where would ships go?

However, the challenge remains where ships could go. 'The Chinese government would need to feel comfortable having their citizens exposed to other places' and other countries would need to be open to taking ships, Donald said during a media briefing.

Genting Cruise Lines has suggested it could begin sailing from China at mid-year, provided ports are opened. Should destinations such as Japan remain closed then, Genting has urged the Chinese government to allow domestic cruises and cruises-to-nowhere.

Donald said Carnival has no indication if China is considering an easing of cabotage.

Resumption of operations won't be uniform

Nobody knows when cruises will restart anywhere, Donald told reporters, adding that the resumption of operations is probably not going to be uniform. Initially, itineraries are likely to be different, perhaps shorter and closer to home.

And nobody can say how the cruise experience itself may be different. Donald said Carnival awaits the protocols medical experts decide and will then adapt to those: 'The world has not yet aligned around the epidemiology of this.' Once there's a better understanding of COVID-19, 'you can begin to engineer steps and actions.'

No-sail extension didn't change anything 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recently extended 'no sail' order didn't really change cruise line plans since the important thing now is that there's no social gathering. And 'a cruise by definition is social gathering,' as Donald put it.

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