Woman Waiting for Cruise Ship
Woman Waiting for Cruise Ship. (photo via Lisa-Blue / E+)

Carnival Corporation & plc chief executive officer Arnold Donald said during a recent interview that he believes the cruise industry won’t return to pre-COVID-19 levels until at least 2023.

According to, Donald said the cruise line is hoping its full fleet of ships will be sailing by the end of 2021, but the industry as a whole is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic revenue levels for at least two more years.

In February, Donald cited advances in coronavirus treatment, available low-cost and accurate testing and multiple vaccines as the reason for his optimism that Carnival’s fleet could return to service this year.

“The combination of all that bodes really well and puts us in a good position,” Donald said. “You do see the light here. The conversation is changing. The knowledge about COVID has changed. The ability to manage COVID has changed.”

“All these things have moved in a positive direction,” Donald continued. “It’s a bad storm that the world finds itself in, but we will weather this storm, and that’s the trick. We just have to weather it and come out on the other end and hope for those bright cheery days that we’re all looking for.”

Carnival announced last month that cruise operations from U.S. ports had been canceled through May 31, with all impacted passengers having the choice of a future cruise credit plus onboard credit package or a full refund.

While a date for the return of guest cruises from U.S. ports has not been determined, the cruise line began providing more flexible options for guests booked into early summer so they could cancel their reservation without penalty if they needed or wanted to make other plans.