Carnival announces layoffs, furloughs as coronavirus keeps cruises on pause

Carnival Cruise Corp. announced a combination of layoffs, furloughs, reduced work weeks and salary reductions across the company, including senior management, as the world's largest cruise company deals with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

"Taking these extremely difficult employee actions involving our highly dedicated workforce is a very tough thing to do. Unfortunately, it's necessary, given the current low level of guest operations and to further endure this pause," said Carnival Corp. President and CEO Arnold Donald.

Princess Cruises had already announced cancellations for most of its cruises through the end of the summer season.

According to Carnival, the majority of its affected employees in the U.S. are in Florida, California and Washington state.

As the pause on cruise travel enters a third month, the company said it is eliminating 820 positions and furloughing 537 employees for up to six months in Florida out of a workforce of about 3,000 employees. 

Carnival did not disclose layoff numbers for California or Washington or elsewhere around the world.

"We care deeply about all our employees and understanding the impact
this is having on so many strengthens our resolve to do everything we can to
return to operations when the time is right,'' Donald said.

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"We look forward to the day when many of those impacted are returning to work with us and we look forward to the day, when appropriate, that once again our ships and crew are delighting millions of people at sea and we can be there for the many nations and millions of people who depend on the cruise industry for their livelihood."

Donald said "the majority of guests affected by our schedule changes want to sail with us at a later date, with fewer than 38% requesting refunds to date.''

"Our booking trends for the first half of 2021, which remain within historical ranges, demonstrate the resilience of our brands and the strength of our loyal recurring customer base, of which 66% are repeat cruisers,'' he said.

"In addition, we plan to stagger fleet reentry to optimize demand and operating performance over time."

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In March, several cruise ships with outbreaks of COVID-19 cases were stranded at sea after being rejected by port authorities worried they would import more cases.

Scores of crew members remain on cruise ships in or near U.S. waters due to increased restrictions imposed by health authorities in the U.S. and abroad.