Carnival Cruise Line has chartered the Carnival Fascination to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a cruise line representative tells Travel Agent. As a result, the ship’s cruises for the duration of the charter will be canceled.
In response to a request for proposal from the U.S. government, Carnival finalized the charter agreement with FEMA October 11. The four-month charter period will extend from October 15, 2017, through February 3, 2018. During the charter period, the Carnival Fascination will be docked in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide housing and meals for relief workers.
As a result of the charter, Carnival has canceled cruises that were scheduled to operate on Carnival Fascination, which is normally homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Guests on these cancelled voyages will receive a full refund, along with a future cruise discount. The refunds will be automatically process to the original form of payment within three weeks, Carnival said, and the cruise line is also reaching out to its airline partners in order to request that they waive change fees. Carnival said it will also be working with guests on non-refundable airline change fees.
Carnival said the Carnival Fascination will return to its normal cruise service, sailing year-round from San Juan to the southern Caribbean, starting February 18, 2018, following a drydock in the Grand Bahama shipyard that will add a number of new features, including Guy’s Burger Joint and the Blue Iguana Cantina.
“Carnival Cruise Line’s history is deeply linked to the Caribbean and our ships have been sailing within the region for more than 45 years,” the cruise line said in a written statement. “We are pleased to be partnering with FEMA on this charter in support of the ongoing relief efforts in the Caribbean. Likewise, we sincerely apologize to our guests who were booked on impacted cruises over the next few months. We know this change in plans is going to cause some disappointment and inconvenience and we thank them for their understanding.”
The move is the latest example of cruise lines working to help destinations impacted by this year’s record hurricane season. Carnival has been working to deliver humanitarian supplies as part of its ongoing operations, while Norwegian Cruise Line deployed the Norwegian Sky to St. Thomas on a rescue mission. Royal Caribbean also aided in the evacuations of San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Croix.