Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald on Wednesday reiterated comments made this week by Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy, saying that although the line would prefer to relaunch from its U.S. homeports, it would not rule out a Caribbean restart.
"We want to share the optimism that we can be sailing in July, and I think we can," Donald said during the line's first-quarter earnings call. "Carnival is America's original cruise line. We sail more people than anyone from America, and more kids. Part of that is the drive-to market: we have 14 homeports, nobody else has anything like that."
But Donald added that although Carnival's priority is to resume from the U.S. and for "people who depend on the industry for their livelihood, to have those jobs here," he said that "If we're unable to sail, we'll obviously consider homeporting elsewhere."
He said the company was hoping not to have to make that decision but has to do what's best for its shareholders.
"It's sooner rather than later that we might have to announce some additional homeporting outside of the U.S.," Donald said. "We're trying to hold back on that. I continue to be very much focused on working with the CDC and the administration to come up with a solution that works for American workers and the American public."
Duffy had said Tuesday that while the line still has no plans to restart outside of U.S. borders, as both Royal Caribbean Group brands and Norwegian Cruise Line plan to do this summer, it may have no choice.
Donald also reminded the analysts and investors on the call that the majority of Carnival's nine brands are already sailing or have cruises planned for this summer -- something that has not gotten as much U.S. press because most are not open to North America guests. Carnival's Aida brand is already sailings from the Canary Islands; Costa Cruises will resume sailings from Italy in May; and P&O, Princess and Cunard will all launch domestic cruises for U.K. residents in June.
Seabourn is the one U.S. based line with scheduled sailings for North Americans this summer; it plans cruises from Greece in July.
In fact, 59 of the company's 90 ships operate outside the jurisdiction of the CDC's Conditional Sailing Order, Donald said.
"Our portfolio of brands has clearly been an asset, as we have announced resuming operations with nine ships, representing 12% of our fleet," Donald said.