AIDA Delays Restart Until September in Setback for Carnival Corp.

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Germany’s AIDA Cruises announced further cruise cancelations delaying its planned resumption of service. This is the latest setback for the Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, which had targeted an early August start for AIDA as its first cruise line to resume service.

According to AIDA, they are now planning to resume service sailing from Kiel, German on September 6. In an unexplained development, the company is also substituting its cruise ship the AIDAblu for the AIDAbella on these planned cruises. The two cruise ships are largely sister ship although the AIDAblu with 70 more cabins accommodates approximately 140 more passengers. AIDA had planned to restart operations from Kiel on August 16 with short sea cruises aboard the AIDAbella.

AIDA had originally scheduled its cruise ship the AIDAPerla to be the first to resume service sailing from Hamburg on August 5. According to today’s announcement cruises from Hamburg are now planned to resume on September 12, and instead of short sea cruises AIDA is planning 7-night cruises to Norway but at current, due to the restrictions, it will only be Norwegian fjord cruising and the passengers will not be permitted to go on shore. AIDA said that it plans to repeat the Norwegian Fjord cruises on September 19 and 26.

“As the current development shows, the conditions for safe travel are unfortunately not yet in place in all travel destinations in Europe,” AIDA said in its announcement. As a consequence, the company canceled all of its other scheduled cruises until September 30. They said they would be working with the various authorities to set the protocols for the resumption of cruising.

In early July, Carnival’s brand focused on the German-speaking markets said it would resume service with three ships in August. The current plan makes no mention of planned cruises aboard the AIDAmar planned to sail from Rostock-Warnemünde as of mid-August.

AIDA has faced several hurdles in its plan to resume cruises. With its ships registered in Italy, it required Italian approval as its flag state. In early August, AIDA canceled cruises saying that it had not received the needed approvals. Ten crew members traveling from the Philippines to rejoin the cruise ships in Germany had also tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Germany in early July. At the time, AIDA said that those crew members had been isolated and it had no reason to believe they had exposed the broader crew population on the ships. The company said it planned to proceed with its resumption, but some of its first test cruises without passengers were later postponed.

Carnival Corporation had cited AIDA as one of its brands as likely to have an early re-start as its market is focused locally in Germany where it expected people would drive to the ships. With the continuing delays to resuming its German cruise operation, Carnival Corporation is also reported to be exploring resuming limited operations from Italy with Costa Cruises now that Italy announced that it would permit cruise ships to sail as of August 15. No dates have yet been announced for Costa to resume service and according to reports in the Italian media, several of the crew members Costa flew in to staff its cruise ships have also tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently isolated aboard the company’s ships.

While AIDA has faced delays resuming its cruise operations, TUI Cruises in Germany successfully restarted operations in mid-July with its Mein Schiff cruises. TUI also announced as of August that it would be adding 7-day cruises to the Norwegian Fjords.

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