Carnival Liberty will remain in Miami to operate year-round Caribbean cruises beginning in April 2009, scrapping original plans to reposition to Europe. The ship will continue to offer its existing schedule of seven-day Caribbean cruises through next spring and then introduce a new seven-day program from Miami beginning in April 2009.
In turn, Carnival Pride, currently based in Long Beach, CA, and originally scheduled to position to Miami for a five-month Caribbean deployment from April through August, will instead launch its Baltimore-based program on April 27, 2009.
Prior to its Baltimore deployment, Carnival Pride will operate its previously scheduled Panama Canal cruise from Long Beach, CA, to Miami March 22–April 5, 2009, as well as a six-day cruise departing April 5 and two seven-day Caribbean cruises departing April 11 and 18, 2009, all operating from Miami.
Carnival Liberty's shift could signal a change in the cruise industry's direction, one which up to now has been greatly concentrated on international markets, specifically Europe and the Mediterranean. "Based on current market conditions, continued economic uncertainty and high air costs to Europe, we are shifting our focus to an even greater extent toward our core, close-to-home cruise options which are clearly the preference of the vast majority of the mainstream vacation market right now," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.
Carnival will still offer many European cruises next year when it welcomes the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream, which will debut with a series of three 12-day Grand Mediterranean cruises from Rome in September and October 2009.
Cahill said that the company will be offering assistance in finding alternatives to Carnival Liberty guests who were scheduled to sail in Europe, including European cruises on Carnival’s sister companies that have a strong presence in the region such as Holland America and Princess.
Guests booked on the Carnival Liberty Europe cruises will be provided special onboard credit offers toward other 2009 Carnival cruises, including the Carnival Dream European departures. In addition, Carnival will assist guests with the cost of changes/cancellations for non-refundable air transportation. Guests who were booked on the Carnival Pride’s Caribbean cruises from April 25, 2009 to August 29, 2009 from Miami will be automatically shifted to the same accommodations on Carnival Liberty. Carnival Liberty will also operate the same itineraries as previously scheduled on the Carnival Pride.