Carnival Corp.'s outgoing CEO Arnold Donald called the CDC's decision to end the cruise ship Covid program an important milestone.
"It demonstrates that the world is starting to deal with this virus and learning to manage by living with it," he said. "Any positive progress is good."
Donald said that the decision means cruising will be treated the same as other forms of travel.
"The fact is we were being held, and we felt unfairly, to a different standard: a zero-risk standard relative to the rest of the travel and leisure sector and the rest of society," he said. "We finally got to a place that that brings us much closer to where the rest of society is in terms of freedom to operate responsibly."
Donald said the impact of any changes in protocols will not be as immediate as it would be for air travel or other forms of travel, because most cruises are booked further out.
"We'll get the benefit from it in future bookings," he said. "You're not going to see like an instant pop in demand or anything."
In addition, ship protocols are not likely to change immediately, Donald said, saying that they will look at modifying them "based on the additional freedom to operate that this represents," but keeping in mind passenger health and safety as well as the destinations the ships visit.
"You'll start to see us move into what society is doing at large," he said. "We will always have to be in compliance with the destinations. Keep in mind the world is one world but not one place. And every destination has its own thing. So if we're going to someplace we're going to honor whatever that destination's rules are.
"And there may be places around the world that still require certain things, certain testing, certain vaccinations, so if we choose to go to those places, then we're going to respect that and guests will be informed ahead of time and know what they have to do. But that's what travel in general is, and people are used to that."