Carnival Ecstasy to sail out of Jacksonville in November for the first time in over a year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Carnival Cruise Line announced plans to resume more cruises in September and October, with more than half its fleet to be sailing in the coming months.

The company says it plans to continue operating vaccinated cruises through October.

For friends Gracie Jordan and Jessica Coursey, this is great news.

“Definitely everything that everybody should do,” Jordan said.

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The pandemic hasn’t been so easy on the cruise lines. For weeks, cruise lines and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have gone head-to-head over concerns of thousands of guests on board ships during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Over the last month there’s been a lot of changes going on in the cruise industry. A recent court ruling really hurt the cruise industry and it helped the CDC,” travel advisor Scott Lara, also known as “The Cruise Genius,” said.

Lara says the cruise industry is bouncing back, though. On Monday, Carnival announced it’s rolling out even more cruises through October — all vaccinated.

“I’m excited to see everything get back to normal and people going on cruises again, I’ll go on another one,” Coursey said.

Carnival plans to allow unvaccinated guests on board, but they’ll have to be tested for COVID-19 prior to hopping on the ship.

Here’s what unvaccinated guests, including children under 12, can expect:

  • Pre-cruise testing
  • Pre-embarkation testing
  • Pre-debarkation testing (for cruises of 4+ days)
  • $150 per-person charge for testing and screenings

“The reason the Carnival Ecstasy got pushed back, along with several of the other Carnival ships, is that Carnival is doing everything they can to make sure that cruising is safe and fun, so they had a gentle rollout,” Lara said.

Lara adds that if you’re unvaccinated, you should consider getting travel insurance through the cruise line.

Carnival’s booking page shows Ecstasy will set sail on November 11. Action News Jax asked Carnival why Jacksonville is not part of the September and October rollout.

“As we’ve stated all along, we are taking a phased approach to our return, so some home ports will restart at the back end of our timeline,” Vance Gullisken with Carnival said.

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To Coursey and Jordan, cruises coming back is a sign that things are one step closer to normal.

“Still get back to that normalcy in the industry, and for people to be able to experience new things and take those cruises while feeling safe,” Jordan said.

Both agree the rollout is a good idea.